Using the right product can prevent flareups and better manage symptoms of Blepharitis.
I'm amazed to this day, that health practitioners and professional bodies are still spruiking the old "baby shampoo and scrub" treatment. Using this wrong solution for years can cause problems to compound.
So what about Baby Shampoo?
Where do we start?
Aside from containing a mild detergent, baby shampoo is made from chemicals that can cause skin reactions. It wasn't until that 2013, Johnson & Johnson removed the caricongen Formaldehyde, and 1,4-dioxane from their baby shampoo. (And to think I'd be scrubbing my eyes with a carcinogen for years before that!)
According to Dr Whitney Hauser, OD, even after the "Improved Formula" from 2014, ingredients like cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) are still present. CAPB is a synthetic detergent used in contact lens cleaners. This ingredient has been known to cause allergic reactions in 3-7% of the population, as well as increasing inflammation. In 2004, CAPB was named “Allergen of the Year” by The American Contact Dermatitis Society.
There's even research to suggest baby shampoo causes natural oils around the eye to become soapy, thereby increasing inflammation. This may be the case if the shampoo is not fully rinsed after scrubbing.
Baby shampoo is not designed for eyes. While it may be a cheaper, simple option, it's less effective and potentially irritating.
There might be an element of truth to the Family Guy skit after-all! (Excuse the subtitles, this was the best quality video I could find online)
Let's take a look at 4 better alternatives for eyelids.
Systane & OCuSOFT PLUS Scrubs/Foam
Systane Lid Wipes are pre-moistened wipes used to remove makeup, and debris that can cause irritation. They are gentle on the skin which makes it a great option for a range of eye conditions.
Each wipe is wrapped which makes them convenient for travel, and very hygienic. But this can add to the costs over the long-term. To save money, some crafty users cut the wipes into 4 segments and store them in an airtight bag. I'm not sure this is the most hygienic option, but it would see a pack of 30 wipes last even longer.
I've found Systane wipes wetter and made from softer paper compared to others on the market.
The OCuSOFT Lid Scrub PLUS are a stronger version of the Systane wipes. The formula specifically targets bacteria commonly found on the eyelid. These pre-moistened pads is more appropriate for for moderate-severe eyelid conditions. OcuSOFT scrubs contains a moisturiser which can help relieve dry eye symptoms. This also comes in foam bottle form.
Pros - Gentle & Soothes the skin, Suitable for a range of conditions and severities, Hygienic
Cons - General purpose function makes it 'the jack of all trades, master of none', contains artificial chemicals
While most eyelid cleansers contain artificial chemicals, Cliradex wipes are the natural alternative.
Cliradex uses the most effective components of tea tree oil (4-Terpineol) to soothe and clean the eyes. This offers the benefits of tea-tree oil without the harshness that comes from pure tea-tree oil. Because of this compound, Cliradex is effective at killing mites that may be causing symptoms.
If your practitioner has diagnosed a Demodex infestation as the cause of your Blepharitis, these wipes may be a great option. Many research studies published have praised the effectiveness of Cliradex.
Cliradex also has varying strengths depending on the severity of your eye condition.
I've found these wipes can cause slight irritation for a minute following treatment. Not as comfortable as the Systane wipes.
Pros - Great for killing Demodex Mites, preservative-free, natural ingredients, hygienic
Cons - Expensive, Not as gentle on eyes as other wipes, potentially not as effective for other causes of Blepharitis.
Sterilid Foam could be considered a mix between Systane and Cliradex. It contains tea-tree oil, as well as the artificial ingredients that make Systane and OCuSOFT so effective.
I've found Sterilid to be very gentle on the eyes. I use it frequently when I run out of Systane wipes.
Pros - Suitable for a range of eye conditions, cost-effective
Cons - Only available in foam bottle, doesn't come in wipes
HypoChlorous Solutions - (Avenova, HypoChlor)
Hypochlorous acid (HOCI) in small doses has been found to kill bacteria and reduce the inflammatory response by our body. Recently, these solutions have gained popularity amongst the medical community for treating Blepharitis.
Recent evidence shows HOCI solutions can kill 90% of bacteria around the eyes. What's better - hypochlorous acid is naturally produced by our body.
Ophthalmologists have reported using HOCI solution for 10 days dramatically improved symptoms.
Prescription (Avenova) and Non-prescription (Hypochlor) are both in spray bottle foam. To use it, spray twice on a cotton ball and apply to closed eyes. This can be done following your scrubbing regime. To maximise the effectiveness, be sure not to rinse your eyes.
Pros - Easy to use, great addition following usual scrubbing regime
Cons - May take longer to spend
Are Pre-Moistened Wipes or Cleansing Foam Best?
Most of these products come in wipe/scrub form or cleansing foam form.
Individually wrapped wipes are more hygienic, but expensive over the long-term - (and not to mention bad for the environment).
Cleansing foam gives you best bang for your buck. Be sure to store the bottle correctly and consider replacing every few months. This will ensure bacteria does not build-up in the solution.
These solutions are great for maintenance, but likely won't be enough as a primary treatment. So if you're having a bad flareup, best to visit the Dr for a more comprehensive treatment plan.
Solutions specifically made for eyelids should be used for proper maintenance of symptoms. Systane, Ocusoft and Sterilid contain ingredients that remove crust without irritating the eyelids. Cliradex is great if you have been diagnosed with a mite infestation.
Don't forget to add in an HOCI solution, such as HypoChlor spray bottle after your scrubbing regime to give your eyes a much needed boost.
Under guidance of your eye-care practitioner, see which of these products works best for you.
Regarding baby shampoo - the amount of preservatives and detergents means you should be throwing out that bottle!