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Treatment for Eyelash line Redness & Scale (Seborrheic Blepharitis)

By Cynthia Bailey MD.

Seborrhea is a common skin rash that can cause blepharitis. Many people with seborrhea also have rosacea, which is another common skin condition that can cause eyelash line inflammation.

What is Seborrheic Blepharitis?

Symptoms of blepharitis caused by both seborrhea and rosacea include redness, swelling and irritation of the eyelash line. Eyes can feel gritty and inflamed. There may be a greasy feel to the skin with crust and scale along the lash line.  This condition involves the skin, eyelash follicles and lash line oil glands. Eyelashes may fall out or grow haphazardly.

It is important to see a doctor if simple hygiene measures do not improve your blepharitis because infection and eye damage can occur when the lash line is chronically inflamed.

Seborrheic blepharitis usually happens when you have really severe dandruff in the more usual areas like your scalp and face, but it can also happen by itself.  As with the other manifestations of dandruff, we don’t know the cause of seborrheic blepharitis.  Additionally, the condition tends to relapse. It takes consistently good hygiene to prevent flare ups, as well as a strategy to control flare ups when they do occur.

Dermatologist’s Treatment Tips for Seborrheic Blepharitis (Eyelash Line Dandruff)

Dr. Bailey’s top recommendation for treating seborrheic blepharitis is to wash your facial skin daily with Calming Zinc Soap. This naturally made, gentle bar soap is fortified with pyrithione zinc, an ingredient used in dandruff shampoos. Calming Zinc Soap is hydrating to facial skin while at the same time it removes oils that clog pores, and delivers a layer of pyrithione zinc to fight dandruff.

Creating a daily facial hygiene routine that involves cleansing the face with Calming Zinc Soap is often sufficient to prevent flare ups of seborrheic blepharitis. Should the blepharitis worsen however, Dr. Bailey recommends adding warm compresses and dilute Baby Shampoo treatment to help remove oil gland and follicle-clogging crust and debris.

Dr. Bailey’s Detailed Treatment Instructions

To treat seborrheic blepharitis, Dr. Bailey recommends the following two steps.

1) Wash your facial skin with Calming Zinc Soap once or twice a day. Close the eye tight to keep the soap entering the eyes. Lather the soap on the facial skin including the skin of the eyelids. This allows the active ingredient to reach the lash line.  Rinse well.  It is important to know that pyrithione zinc will sting and irritate the eye if it actually gets into it so it’s important that none does.

2) If the blepharitis is severe or if the simple hygiene step of washing with Calming Zinc Soap does not control the swelling and crust then add warm compresses and the following dilute baby shampoo treatment:

  • Prepare a bowl of dilute baby shampoo by placing a small squirt of shampoo in a small bowl with about a cup of warm water. Stir to disperse the shampoo in the water evenly. Then soak the lash line skin with a warm, wet wash cloth for 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, pull down on the eyelash line and dip a cotton tipped applicator into the dilute baby shampoo solution. Holding the lash line taught with a finger, gently run the cotton tipped applicator along the lash line to help remove and buildup of oil, dead skin cells and microorganisms that clog the lash line pores (oil glands).  Repeat this several times using a clean cotton tipped applicator dipped in the shampoo solution.  Both the upper and lower lash line need to be cleaned in this way.
  • The eyelids are finally rinsed with warm water to remove the baby shampoo residue.  This process is repeated once or twice a day as needed.  Clogged glands and crust can worsen the inflammation of blepharitis.  Curiously, the skin germ called Pityrosporum yeast and the demodex skin mite are often involved in blepharitis, and removing eyelash line crust helps to discourage their growth.

Beyond these two interventions, eyelash line dandruff is tricky to treat because of the proximity of the lash line to the delicate eye itself.  If this treatment method is not working then it’s time to ask for a doctor’s help.

Find the type of dandruff that you have and click below to see the routine I recommend:

Treatment for scaly, itchy, "dry scalp" from dandruff

Treatment for crusty ears from dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis)

Treatment for "dry" redness and scale in the eyebrows, on the nose, and on the face from seborrhea

Treatment for eyelash line redness and scale from seborrhea (seborrheic blepharitis)

Treatment for seborrheic dermatitis of the back, chest and skin folds