If you're still using baby shampoo and cotton balls to clean your eyelids, now is the time to change. Over the past few years new eyelid wipes have entered the market. Each of these wipes are designed for use around the eyes and do not contain detergents (unlike baby shampoo).
These companies also sell eyelid foam cleansers. While these are cheap, individually wrapped wipes are more hygienic. They also don't contain foaming agents that can irritate eyes.
Let's go through 4 of the most popular eyelid wipes.
1) Systane Lid Wipes
Systane lid wipes are a great 'all-rounder' option for Blepharitis. These wipes can help reduce redness, itching, irritation, and crust from the eyelid margins.
Having used Systane for months, what I loved most about them was how gentle it was on my skin. I could scrub my eyes in the morning, and there would be no increase in redness throughout the day.
Using warm compresses dramatically improved the effectiveness of these wipes. The crust that was usually glued to my eyelid, would come off easily with these wipes. As is advertised, these wipes are also fantastic in removing makeup.
Another positive was the wide availability of these in shops. I could walk to a local chemist and pick up a 24 pack for $12. This was great value, and definitely didn't break the bank.
But you know what they say:
Jack of all trades, master of none. I found that stopping treatment for a few days, crustiness around the eyelid margin would return.
PROS - Hypoallergenic and soothing on skin, widely available, great value, effective for removing makeup
CONS - Does not provide lasting relief
2) OcuSoft Lid Scrub PLUS
Unlike Systane, Ocusoft lid scrubs contain antibacterial ingredients. This is important, since Blepharitis is most commonly caused by bacterial buildup. These wipes effectively kill the most common strains of bacteria including Staph epidermis and MRSA.
Ocusoft have also engineered these wipes as 'leave-on'. I was a bit skeptical at first, since I've left on several types of wipes only to have my eyes further irritated.
I can say these OcuSoft wipes were more soothing than I expected (given the strong anti-bacterial properties). Without rinsing off, my eyes were only marginally red following treatment. After 2 weeks of using Ocusoft wipes daily, I can say my symptoms signficantly improved. After ceasing treatment, I managed to get 1 week of relief - double the effectiveness of systane.
To get your money's worth, I suggest cutting these wipes into 4 sections and storing them in an airtight pack.
PROS - Great option for moderate to severe Blepharitis, strong anti-bacterial properties, relatively gentle on skin.
CONS - Slightly pricey, not as effective against Demodex.
3) Cliradex Wipes
If you have been unlucky enough to be diagnosed with eyelash (demodex) mites (LINK) - Cliradex might be the solution for you. Demodex are parasitic mites that are notoriously stubborn. Successful treatment requires rigourous hygiene practices - think daily washing of pillow cases in hot water.
Cliradex's claim to fame is through harnessing the power of tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-parasitic properties. But it can also be quite harsh on delicate skin around the eyelid.
Following my lack of success with the Blephadex wipes, I decided to trial Cliradex for 3 weeks (twice a day). Initially I left the Cliradex on overnight, as I figured this would have greater effect. However the following mornings, I had a noticeably inflammed and irritated eye.
I did some research on the methods conducted by researchers when eliminating Demodex. They recommended the following:
Apply 50% tea tree oil mix to eyelashes and around the eyelid margin.
Wait 5 minutes - this is because tea tree oil draws the mites out.
Reapply tea tree oil mix
Rinse face and wipe off tea tree oil and 'loose' mites
So I tried the same methods on myself. I applied Cliradex to the eyelashes, waited 5mins and reapplied. I made sure I completely washed my eyes of any remaining tea tree oil.
After the 2nd week, there was a noticeable improvement in my symptoms. By the 3rd week, I didn't appear to have any symptoms - my ophthalmologist was very impressed.
PROS - More effective against Demodex (vs Blephadex), a great alternative if other eyelid wipes are not having much effect
CONS - Potentially irritating to skin if left on too long, more expensive than others, more effective eyelid wipes if you don't have Demodex
4) Blephadex Wipes
Blephadex eyelid wipes combine the benefits of tea tree oil and coconut oil. They are marketed as a natural, preservative-free alternative. The tea tree oil helps kill bacteria, while the coconut oil soothes the skin. Blephadex has also been reported to improve facial rosacea.
The tea tree oil in these wipes also means they are effective at removing Demodex (eyelash mites). After having been diagnosed with Demodex infestation, I decided to give these a go.
I found these wipes to be great at removing debris, however it did irritate my skin following. After I showered, I applied Blephadex wipes as instructed - however for the rest of the day my eyes were considerably irritated.
Even using these at night, the next morning I would wake up with red eyelids. After 5 days of this, I decided to stop using them.
PROS - Helpful for those who have Demodex, good at removing debris
CONS - May irritate skin
And The Winners Are...
Given the complex nature of Blepharitis, there's no silver bullet or "best eyelid wipe" out there. What works for someone, may not work for others.
It's best to see an eye doctor and base treatment on your specific diagnosis and cause. However, even when you have a diagnosis, I'd recommend trialing a few different eyelid wipes. They all contain different ingredients that may cause differing reactions to your skin. Find out which one works best for you.
Here's what I found: