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Inflamed Eyelid (Blepharitis)

What is an inflamed eyelid?

An inflamed eyelid, called blepharitis, is redness and swelling of the edges of the eyelids. It does not usually affect your child’s eyesight but can cause mild blurring that comes and goes.

What is the cause?

Causes of an inflamed eyelid include:

  • Bacteria
  • A skin condition called rosacea, which causes the oil glands of the skin of the face, nose, and eyelids to get clogged

Children who have dandruff or oily skin are more likely to have an inflamed eyelid.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • Redness, irritation, itching, or burning of the skin at the edge of your child’s eyelid
  • Matted eyelashes or crusty buildup on the edge of your child’s eyelid, especially in the morning
  • Lashes that fall out
  • Dry eyes or watery eyes

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and activities, and examine your child’s eyes. A sample of the buildup from your child’s eyelids may be sent to a lab to check for bacteria.

How is it treated?

Treatment involves careful washing of your child’s eyelids and lashes. Your provider will tell you how often you should clean your child’s eyelids.

Your provider may prescribe ointment to help relieve your child’s symptoms. After washing your child’s lids and lashes, rub the ointment along the edges of your child’s eyelids. Follow your provider's instructions carefully.

In some cases, your child may need to take antibiotic pills.

How can I take care of my child?

You may need to follow a cleansing routine for several weeks or months:

  • Moisten a washcloth with warm water and hold it over both eyes for several minutes. The water and steam will help to soften any buildup of dirt or skin cells on your child’s eyelids. A gentle massage on your child’s eyelids with the washcloth can help remove the buildup.
  • Add a few drops of baby shampoo to a cup of water. Moisten a cotton swab with this mixture. Using the swab, clean all the buildup from the edges of your child’s eyelids and eyelashes. Use a new swab for each eye. Do not let the swab touch your child’s eyeball.

Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider.

How can I prevent blepharitis?

Regular cleansing may help keep blepharitis from coming back.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site:
Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.3 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2013-12-05
Last reviewed: 2014-10-27
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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