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Is Blepharitis Contagious?

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Young woman rubbing her bottom left eyelid.

Blepharitis is a common eye condition caused by inflammation in your eyelids. The condition can cause many uncomfortable symptoms, but fortunately, it is not contagious. Blepharitis is most commonly caused by a buildup of bacteria at the base of your eyelashes and cannot be spread from person to person. 

While blepharitis typically does not cause permanent damage to your eyes and vision, it can cause dry eye symptoms. In most cases, blepharitis can be treated with at-home treatments and proper eyelid hygiene habits. However, if you are experiencing persistent blepharitis symptoms, it’s a good idea to consult with your eye care professional

What Is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis commonly occurs when the oil glands at the base of your eyelashes become inflamed; This can be caused by a buildup of bacteria, allergies, and certain skin conditions, such as seborrheic dermatitis and rosacea.

Determining the underlying cause of your specific case of blepharitis can be beneficial to finding a treatment option that works for you. In many cases, adopting a more in-depth eyelid hygiene routine may be key to treating blepharitis. However, other individuals may require medication or additional treatment to find relief. 

Blepharitis Symptoms

The symptoms of blepharitis are usually similar to dry eye symptoms. However, blepharitis may present with more visible symptoms like red, inflamed eyelids, and dandruff-like flakes around your eyelashes. 

Common blepharitis symptoms include:

  • Dry, watery eyes
  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Itchy eyes or eyelids
  • Red, swollen eyes or eyelids
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Crust on eyelashes
  • Eyelids sticking together
  • Dandruff-like flakes around the eyes

Blepharitis Complications

In most cases, blepharitis doesn’t cause serious or permanent damage to your vision or eye health. However, proper treatment and management are key to preventing the condition from worsening and causing potential complications. 

Possible complications from blepharitis include:

  • Styes and Chalazia: A stye is a small, painful lump that develops on the eyelid. Styes are usually caused by a bacterial infection. A chalazion is a hard, usually painless lump that develops on the eyelid. Chazalia are caused by a blocked oil gland in the eyelid. 
  • Chronic pink eye: Blepharitis can lead to recurrent pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis. Unlike blepharitis, bacterial conjunctivitis is very contagious. 
  • Corneal damage: Long-term inflammation caused by severe cases of blepharitis can cause damage to your cornea (the clear, dome-shaped outer layer at the front of your eye.  

If you’re experiencing blepharitis symptoms, an appointment with your optometrist is a good first step in creating a treatment plan with your specific eye care needs in mind. 

How to Treat Blepharitis

While there is no cure for blepharitis, there are steps that you can take to alleviate symptoms and keep the condition under control.  

Eyelid & Eyelash Hygiene

In most cases, the key to treating blepharitis is proper eyelid hygiene. Your eye doctor may recommend using a gentle cleanser to clean your eyelids and eyelashes and remove any debris or buildup that may be contributing to inflammation. You can use a warm compress to help loosen any crust or debris and then gently scrub your eyelids.

Warm Compress

Applying a warm compress can help reduce inflammation and reduce symptoms associated with blepharitis. For a simple at-home remedy, you can apply a clean, damp washcloth to your eyelids. The compress can help loosen debris and may even help unclog the oil glands in your eyelids, which may contribute to your blepharitis. Alternatively, you may use a heat mask that is made for alleviating dry eye symptoms. The heat mask will typically stay warm longer than a washcloth which will increase your treatment time. 


For more severe and persistent cases of blepharitis, your optometrist may prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medication to treat blepharitis. 


BlephEx is an in-office treatment for blepharitis provided by some optometry clinics, including Bettner Vision. During a BlephEx treatment, your eye care provider uses a handheld device with a spinning medical-grade sponge to remove accumulated bacteria along the edge of your eyelids. The treatment typically only takes 6–8 minutes and should be repeated every 4–6 months for optimal results. 

Treat Underlying Conditions

If you’re experiencing blepharitis caused by an underlying health condition like seborrheic dermatitis or rosacea, you may need to treat the underlying condition as opposed to directly treating your blepharitis. 

By working closely with your eye doctor and following a treatment plan, you can manage your blepharitis and regain comfort.

Find Relief from Blepharitis

The team at Bettner Vision is here to support your eye care needs, including diagnosis and treatment of blepharitis. Contact our team to book an appointment and find long-term relief from blepharitis.

Written by Dr. Christopher Bettner, OD

Dr. Christopher Bettner has been serving the optometric needs of Colorado Springs since 1995. He is trained in ocular pathology with an emphasis in the treatment and management of ocular disease, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and pre- and post-operative care.

More Articles By Dr. Christopher Bettner, OD

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