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What is Blepharoconjunctivitis?

Allison Boelcke
By Allison Boelcke
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Blepharoconjunctivitis is a condition that causes swelling of the outer eyelids and the conjunctiva, the thin mucous layer that acts as a protective layer for the inner eyelids and front of the eyeball. The condition is actually the simultaneous occurrence of two separate eye conditions: blepharitis and conjunctivitis. Blepharitis affects the outer eyelids, while conjunctivitis occurs in the conjunctiva.

Blepharitis is an infection typically caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Its most common symptoms are red eyelids, an itching or burning sensation, or severe dry skin flakes on the eyelids. The infection can usually be treated with an over-the-counter eyelid cleaner, which is formulated to be gentle enough on thin eyelid skin but potent enough to prevent the harboring of bacteria. If the condition is left untreated, the infection can spread to conjunctiva.

When the infection reaches the conjunctiva, it causes conjunctivitis to also occur. Conjunctivitis, more commonly referred to as pink eye, can occur by itself and be caused by allergies. In babies, it can be due to unopened tear ducts. Blepharoconjunctivitis happens when the bacteria that caused blepharitis spreads from the outer eyelid to the transparent mucous lining on the inside of the eye. It irritates blood vessels of the eye, making them more noticeable than the white parts and giving the eye a pink color.

In addition to irritated blood vessels, the eyes may also burn or itch. This condition may cause the inner eye to excrete a thin discharge. If that discharge collects overnight and dries, it can make the eyelids dry shut and have to be pried open in the morning.

Blepharoconjunctivitis is contagious, and it can occur if a person is exposed to the bacteria through skin-to-skin contact or through using contact lenses or eye makeup products that are contaminated. When a person gets this infection, it can spread and infect others for up to 14 days after he or she contracts it; therefore, a person with the infection is recommended to limit contact with others until the condition is completely treated.

Antibacterial medications usually suffice to treat the bacteria that causes the infection. The medication is typically in the form of eye drops, but it is also available in a topical version. The topical version is applied directly to the eyelids and surface of the eyeballs and is often recommended for babies or small children who have difficulty using eye drops. The medications can cause temporary vision impairment, but this usually subsides within 30 minutes. The symptoms of the infection, such as redness and discharge, will generally go away within two days, but the person will still contagious for two weeks.

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Discussion Comments

By anon969422 — On Sep 09, 2014

My 9 year old just got diagnosed today. We have been fighting problems with her eyes for over a year now. She has had blepharitis, keratitis, conjunctivitis, phlyctenuals, and styes that last months.

Our family doctor didn't help, and the optometrist couldn't figure it out, so we transferred to an ophthalmologist who thought it was either vernal or chronic blepharitis. He finally transferred me to a new pediatric ophthalmologist.

Starting tomorrow, my daughter needs steroid drops four times a day, an oral antibiotic twice a day for six weeks, an eyelid scrub with tea tree oil (which apparently will be hard for me to find) and because it is affecting her eyesight, now she has to wear an eye patch every day for an hour while reading or playing video games.

I have found the last little while I was washing her eyelids with theralid foam and she liked it and was willing to use it. I had also been applying a small amount of raw crude active 16+ manuka honey into her eyelashes at night and while I was doing that routine it was the longest she had ever gone without a flare up. I stopped two weeks ago and shes just starting to flare now. She loves the manuka honey and it's known as medicinal honey. It's used in bandages now to help heal wounds infected with MRSA. It has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti inflammatory properties. I would highly recommend it for anyone suffering with this. In a case like this, a little goes a long way.

By anon278691 — On Jul 08, 2012

I just got diagnosed. It was he worst eye pain I have ever experienced. It took two trips to the urgent care, a trip my primary doctor, then finally to the ophthalmologist. Get treatment if you think just pink eye but the meds given aren't working. I learned my lesson!

By ysmina — On Apr 22, 2012

@burcinc-- When I had blepharoconjuctivitis last year, the doctor told me to wash my eyes with hot water too. But he also told me to add a drop of baby shampoo. It seemed to help a lot. It was actually a bit drying but it felt like it was helping the infection.

For inflammation and swelling, try putting an ice pack with a towel in between. Don't apply it directly on the skin, but it will help the swelling.

My blepharoconjuctivitis was because of a staph infection, so I don't know about allergic conjuctivitis. But I'm sure the same treatments apply to both. And when I had this condition, I had the whole works, eye discharge, watering, pain, itchiness, pink eye, swelling, the works!

I even got a steroid injection because staph infections are really stubborn. So antibiotics and eye drops weren't enough. Not everyone needs this treatment though. It's for more serious cases.

By burcinc — On Apr 21, 2012

@turquoise-- Yeah, it can get pretty bad. I have chronic allergic conjuctivitis. I don't really have watery eyes, just red eyes. And sometimes when I wake up, there is a discharge.

The red eye is what bothers me the most though. My eyes have become so sensitive and dry. Even the eye drops and ointments that my doctor prescribes irritates my eyes. The only thing that doesn't is hot water. I wash my eyes with hot water and a cotton bad twice a day.

Sometimes my eye is better, but nothing seems to be treating it permanently. The red eye is always constant. And my doctor can't figure out what I'm allergic to. I'm so tired of it. I just want it to get better.

By turquoise — On Apr 20, 2012

I got blepharoconjuctivitis from using contaminated makeup! I had bought makeup from a blog sale and didn't think twice about hygiene. Even though I wiped the makeup when I received it, it was clearly not enough to clean the bacteria.

The day after I used the eye makeup, my eyes started to itch and water. The swelling and irritated pink eye took another day to develop. I have never been so scared in my life! I rushed to the hospital where they prescribed antibacterial drops. I used the drops several times a day for a week. Thankfully it worked and the infection cleared.

I went back for a check up and the doctor said I'm lucky. Apparently, it could get a lot worse and could even affect eyesight. Thankfully, my infection healed before. I'm never buying used makeup again! So not worth it!

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