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Is Blepharitis Contagious?

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A woman holding her left hand over her infected eye

If you have irritated eyelids, it can be a sign of blepharitis. The inflammation of the eyelids can feel uncomfortable and appear aggravated. If you have relatively healthy eyes and haven’t experienced blepharitis before, you may wonder if you contracted the condition from someone else.

Blepharitis isn’t contagious; however, it does develop due to excess bacteria on the eyelids. But other causes of blepharitis can be linked to other health concerns, including skin conditions or allergies. There are several at-home methods to keep blepharitis away, but if you have chronic blepharitis or the condition doesn’t resolve at home, your optometrist has treatment options to help.

What Is Blepharitis? 

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids, specifically the area where the eyelash follicles reside. It’s split into 2 distinct types:

  • Anterior blepharitis: develops on the outer side of your eyelid and is often caused by seborrheic dermatitis or bacteria.
  • Posterior blepharitis: develops on the inner side of your eyelid, and the bacteria build-up is often caused by dysfunction of the oil glands or the meibomian glands.

The symptoms of blepharitis may include:

  • Red, swollen, and itchy eyelids
  • Crusting or flaking of the eyelids
  • Burning or stinging sensation in the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision

If you experience these symptoms, seeking eye care attention is beneficial.

Risk Factors & Causes of Blepharitis

The Staphylococcus bacteria is typically found in extreme quantities in patients with blepharitis. However, this bacteria family lives on the skin in varying amounts, so they’re not contagious.

Other causes of blepharitis include:

  • Demodex mites: microscopic mites that live in the lash follicles and interfere with oil production on the eyelid margins. 57% of dry eye patients have Demodex mites, and they can cause chronic irritation and chronic chalazions. Xdemvy (lotilaner) is the first eye drop designed to eradicate Demodex mites and help alleviate the irritation they cause.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis: a skin condition that results in oily, flaky skin and can also cause blepharitis.
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction: blocked oil glands can lead to the development of both blepharitis and evaporative dry eye.
  • Rosacea: an inflammatory condition that affects the skin of the face, can also lead to anterior blepharitis.
  • Allergies: certain substances, such as makeup, can also trigger blepharitis.

You may be at greater risk of developing blepharitis if you have dandruff, rosacea, or oily skin. 

A man puts his hand up by his red eye due to eye pain

Can You Contract Blepharitis from Others?

Blepharitis is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from one person to another. This condition is caused by an inflammation of the eyelids, which can be triggered by various factors, both external and in your medical history.

Although blepharitis is not contagious, it can have adverse health effects if not treated promptly, including:

  • Styes
  • Scarring on the eyelid
  • Chronic pink eye

What Eye Conditions Are Contagious?

Certain eye conditions are contagious, and you might contract it from someone close to you or an unhygienic environment.


Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is one of the most common contagious eye conditions affecting people of all ages. This condition causes inflammation of the conjunctiva, a thin, transparent membrane that covers the eye’s whites and the eyelids’ lining.

Viral or bacterial infection, allergens, or irritants like smoke, pollution, or dust can cause conjunctivitis. The symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Burning sensations
  • Discharge
  • Light sensitivity

Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can spread through hand-to-eye contact, contaminated objects, or respiratory droplets. If you suspect you have conjunctivitis, see your optometrist immediately to prescribe the appropriate treatment.


Viral, bacterial, and fungal keratitis are infections of the clear tissue covering your iris and pupil. Some symptoms include:

  • Redness
  • Pain and irritation
  • Vision changes
  • Inability to open the eyes
  • Discharge
  • Overwatering of the eyes

There are non-infectious strains of keratitis, so seeing your optometrist for the proper diagnosis and treatment is essential.

How Can Blepharitis Be Managed & Prevented?

The management and prevention of blepharitis depend on the condition’s underlying cause. Your optometrist may recommend avoiding specific allergens or seeking treatment for existing skin conditions.

To help prevent blepharitis at home, it’s essential to maintain good eye hygiene. This includes:

  • Washing your hands before touching your eyes
  • Avoiding touching or rubbing your eyes
  • Cleaning your eyelids daily with a mild soap or eyelid cleansing products

It’s crucial to change your pillowcases regularly, disinfect your contact lenses, and replace your mascara, eyeliner, and eyeshadow when they expire to prevent bacterial growth.

Your optometrist may also recommend in-office treatments, including BlepharoExfoliation. By removing dirt, bacteria, debris, and blockages from the eyelid margins, you can find relief from the symptoms of meibomian gland dysfunction and blepharitis.

Find Relief from Eye Discomfort

While blepharitis may cause significant discomfort and blurry vision, it can be managed and prevented with proper care. To get the correct diagnosis and treatment, visit Higgins Brothers’ Vision Care for an eye exam. With personalized recommendations for eye care solutions, you can find comfort and clear vision restored.

Dr. Donald J. Higgins

Written by Dr. Donald J. Higgins

Dr. Donald J. Higgins is the founder and Medical Director of the Dry Eye Treatment Center of Connecticut, a clinic specializing in diagnosing and treating dry eye disease. This clinic features Tear Lab, Oculus with Crystal Dry Eye Report, Equinox LLLT, Lipiflow, and Lumenis OptiLight treatments.

Dr. Higgins decided to become an eye doctor his junior year in high school and has never looked back. In his undergraduate studies, Dr. Higgins received the Trustees Prize in Science, the highest award presented to a science student. He graduated from Boston College in 1978 and began attending the New England College of Optometry. After graduating in 1982, he returned to his hometown of Plainville and has been in private practice ever since.

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