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Flaking eyelids

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:48 pm
If you've ever looked in the mirror and noticed that your eyelashes had crust or flakes in them, especially near the bottom, or you've noticed a dusting of flaky particles inside your eyeglasses, you may have a condition known as blepharitis (bleh-fuh-RYE-tus). Other symptoms of this inflammation of the eyelids, also known as eyelash dandruff, include recurring styes (STIZE), grittiness of the eyes, and heaviness of the eyelids. Blepharitis can have several causes. The most common is seborrhea (seb-uh-REE-uh), a disorder of the oil-making sebaceous (suh-BAY-shus) glands at the base of the eyelids, which causes them to secrete (suh-KREET) more oil than usual. If you have seborrhea on other parts of your body-- such as your scalp, brow, or face-- or if you have oily skin in general, you may be prone to this form of blepharitis. If you have flaking eyelids, you can also contract (kun-TRACT) a secondary bacterial infection which, in turn, can lead to another eye disorder, chronic conjunctivitis (kun-junk-tiv-EYE-tus), or pinkeye. Blepharitis is often a chronic condition, so the goal of treatment is to keep it under control. Treatment includes warm compresses to the lid to cut the buildup of secretions by the sebaceous glands. Using a dandruff shampoo to control seborrhea of the scalp, eyebrow, and face may also help, although you should never use it directly on the eyelid. If you're dealing with a bacterial infection, you may also need an antibiotic and steroid drops or ointments. You may have to use some combination of treatment for months, or even years, to keep this condition under control.
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