Blepharitis is a common eye condition that can occur due to bacteria. When it occurs due to bacteria in the Staphylococcus genus, medical experts may refer to it as staphylococcal blepharitis.

Blepharitis describes inflammation of the eyelids. It can result in discolored, irritated, itchy eyelids with crusts or flakes forming on the eyelashes. A person may develop this as a result of a skin condition, such as rosacea, or an overgrowth of bacteria, such as staphylococcal bacteria.

In this article, we provide an overview of staphylococcal blepharitis, including symptoms and treatment options.

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Staphylococcus, or staph, refers to a group of bacteria. There are many types of staphylococcal bacteria. These typically live on the skin’s surface without causing any problems.

However, some people may experience an overgrowth of bacteria or the growth of new harmful bacteria. This can lead to eyelid infection, causing blepharitis.

A 2017 study notes that staphylococcal bacteria commonly cause eye infections. Staphylococcal bacteria can lead to blepharitis.

When staphylococcal bacteria are responsible for inflammation of the eyelids, it is known as staphylococcal blepharitis. Staphylococcus aureus is a species of staphylococcal bacteria that commonly causes blepharitis.

Blepharitis can either be acute or chronic.

Acute blepharitis, also known as a lid infection, can occur due to bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection. Chronic blepharitis is more common, and some health experts separate it into six categories:

  • staphylococcal
  • seborrheic
  • staphylococcal/seborrheic
  • meibomian seborrhea
  • secondary meibomian inflammation
  • meibomian keratoconjunctivitis

Seborrheic blepharitis is the name for when sebaceous glands in the eyelid lead to blepharitis. Meiboman also refers to a type of gland in the eyelid that can cause blepharitis.

However, other experts separate it into one of three distinct categories: staphylococcal, seborrheic, or meibomian gland dysfunction.

Factors that can influence the development of blepharitis include:

  • overgrowth of bacteria on the skin
  • problems with the oil glands in the eyelids
  • an overpopulation of microscopic mites, known as Demodex, living inside the eyelash follicles

Common symptoms of blepharitis include:

More severe symptoms of blepharitis can include:

  • blurred vision
  • eyelashes falling out
  • eyelashes growing in the wrong direction
  • swelling of other parts of the eye, such as the cornea

To diagnose blepharitis, a doctor will typically perform a comprehensive eye exam. During the exam, the doctor will closely examine the eyelids, other skin in the area, eyelashes, and the front surface of the eyeball.

Additionally, the doctor will often ask questions to understand symptoms, use bright lights and magnification tools, and evaluate the quantity and quality of tears.

A doctor can often determine the type of blepharitis based on the appearance of the eyelid margin, or edge of the eyelid. Blepharitis that occur sdue to staph bacteria will often appear as sticky eyelids, thickened lid margins, and missing and misdirected eyelashes.

Treatment options for blepharitis depend on which type a person has. The best way of treating most cases is by keeping the eyelids clean and free of crusts and flakes. Applying a warm compress can help loosen crusts. A person can also use water and gentle soap, such as baby shampoo, to clean the eyelids.

In cases involving a bacterial infection, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics. They may also prescribe steroid-containing eye drops to manage discoloration, swelling, and irritation. Alternatively, they may recommend another type of eye drops, known as artificial tears.

Learn about cleaning the eyes.

Blepharitis can lead to other eye problems, such as:

  • Stye: A discolored, painful bump on the eyelid caused by a blocked oil gland.
  • Chalazion: A hard, painless bump on the eyelid caused by a blocked oil gland. This is typically the result of a stye that does not go away.
  • Chronic dry eye: Oil and flakes build up in the tear film, making the eyes feel dry. Similarly, the eyes may feel watery or teary because the tears are not functioning correctly.
  • Damage to the cornea: In more severe cases, blepharitis can damage the cornea as a result of swelling or irritation in the eyelids or eyelashes that grow in the wrong direction.
  • Chronic red eye: Blepharitis can make the white part of the eye look red all the time.

There are several methods to help prevent blepharitis. Certain hygiene practices can help manage the condition. These include frequently washing the face with gentle soaps and soaking the eyelids. Additionally, using a warm compress can help prevent blockages in the oil glands.

In cases where a bacterial infection causes or accompanies blepharitis, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics and other medications.

Blepharitis is a common eye condition that causes dryness, discoloration, itchiness, and swelling. Various factors, including an overgrowth of bacteria, can cause it. When it occurs due to staph bacteria, healthcare professionals call it staphylococcal blepharitis.

General treatment options for blepharitis may involve eye drops and maintaining eye hygiene to help manage symptoms. For staphylococcal blepharitis, a doctor may recommend antibiotics.