Swollen eyelash follicles are a common symptom of blepharitis, a condition characterized by malfunction of the oil glands located at the base of the eyelashes. The condition is also called anterior blepharitis. When oil gland malfunction occurs, bacteria can grow at an unusual rate, leading to inflammation, irritation and itching. Treatments for blepharitis include medications and a daily self-care regimen.

Symptoms and Additional Causes

According to the Mayo Clinic, in addition to swollen eyelashes, your blepharitis symptoms may include red, swollen or itchy eyelids, watery or red eyes, light sensitivity, flaking skin around your eyes, crusty debris on your lid or lashes, eyelash loss and a burning or gritty sensation in your eye. In addition to bacterial infection, your condition may be caused by the presence of seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff) on your eyelids or the skin condition called rosacea. In some cases, allergies may also be responsible.


The primary treatment option for blepharitis is a daily self-care routine to keep your eyelids and eyelashes clean. Begin by closing your affected eye and placing a warm cloth or compress on your eyelid. Hold this compress in place for roughly 10 minutes. Next, apply a few drops of baby shampoo to a warm washcloth, then wipe away any obvious scales, crust or debris from your eyelashes. If debris is stuck to your eyelids or eyelashes, pull your eyelid away from the surface of your eye (cornea) and scrub the affected area more vigorously. Follow this cleansing by rinsing your eye with warm water and drying it gently with a clean towel.

Typically, you will need to perform this cleansing routine once or twice a day. Over time, you may experience a considerable reduction in your symptoms. However, you should keep a maintenance routine even after your inflammation disappears. Blepharitis is usually chronic, and if you stop treating yourself your symptoms will probably return. If this occurs, return to a full daily cleansing program until your inflammation subsides. If you have dandruff on your scalp, it may indicate the presence of undetected dandruff on your eyelids. Use a dandruff shampoo to help eliminate this possibility. If you have rosacea, you will also need to seek appropriate treatment.

Medications and Complications

If your condition does not improve with self-care, see your doctor for further care. Typically, your doctor will treat your inflammation with an antibiotic ointment or cream. If your symptoms are severe, he may also prescribe antibiotic eyedrops. Severe blepharitis may also be treated with eyedrops containing corticosteroids. If your blepharitis is not controlled, potential complications of the condition include the development of a painful bacterial lump called a sty, as well as chronic pink eye (conjunctivitis) or injury to your cornea. See your doctor for more information on blepharitis and swollen eyelash follicles.