Unfortunately, bypassing some basics can make your regime do more harm than good.
Let's go through the 5 step eyelid cleaning regime.
Step 1: WASH HANDS PROPERLY
They say by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. This is no different for your eyelid hygiene.
Before you even go near your eyes, your hands must be clean.
Spreading more bacteria into the base of your eyelashes is asking for trouble. Use soap and antibacterial . If none of these are available, (e.g. you decided to go camping) use hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC suggests the following regime when cleaning hands (don't laugh because most of us don't do this properly!):
Be sure to use this 20 seconds and really scrub in between your finger nails, drying off with a clean hand towel.
Pro-tip - Don't use your body towel to dry your hands!
Forgetting to properly wash your hands can worsen symptoms
Step 2: HEAT TO LOOSEN UP THE CRUST
Spend a few minutes before scrubbing, heating up the eyelids. The primary function of using warmth is to loosen the crust as well as unblock the oil glands around the eyelid.
There are many ways to achieve this - some include:
Wetting a clean washcloth with warm water and placing over both eyes for a few minutes. Be sure to re-soak when you notice the washcloth beginning to cool.
Heating a gel pack in the microwave and placing over eyes. I would not recommend heating for longer than 20 seconds. Aside from being too hot on the eyes, it may burst the pack (personal experience).
Heating bag of rice in microwave. Be sure to stop every 30 seconds to check the warmth if it's your first time.
Heating a tablespoon (one of my favourite methods). Pouring hot water over a teaspoon, wrap the tablespoon in a clean tissue. Press the underside of the spoon into your eye-socket and hold for a couple minutes.
An easy way to provide heat to the eyelids. Try covering with a clean tissue for hygiene reasons. Source - Fabhow.com
Keep in mind these should be warm not hot. The last thing we want is to burn the sensitive skin around the eyes!
Using heat BEFORE cleaning your eyes, will save you the time spent picking at crust with a Q tip. It's easy to get frustrated when the debris seems glued to the eyelid, but using heat will make your scrubbing efforts more effective.
It's great to get into the habit of spending a few minutes applying heat before you scrub your eyelids.
Step 3: SCRUB (Gently)
Now, are hands are prepped, crust loosened up, we are ready for the main event.
Using an eyelid cleanser (such as Sterilid/Ocusoft/BondiEyes solution), lather up until excess foam appears. You can apply these solutions to a clean washcloth, or cotton balls.
Pro-tip - I have found diluted baby shampoo is not as effective as specialised eyelid cleansers and dries out skin more.
a) Starting with the upper eyelid - pull the skin away from your outer eye.
Pull the skin away from the eye to expose the upper eyelid
b) Begin gently scrubbing in small clockwise circles starting from your nose and working your way out. This should take 15 seconds.
c) Scrub anti-clockwise from the outer eye toward the nose. Working both directions helps remove stubborn debris.
d) Rinse the upper eyelid with warm water and gently remove excess debris with the washcloth or cotton ball.
e) Moving on to the lower eyelid, lather up a new solution.
f) Pull the lower eyelid downward, moving the eyelid away from the eyeball.
Pull the skin down to expose the lower eyelid
g) As with the upper lid, gently scrub the lower eyelid margin in clockwise/anti-clockwise circular motions.
Try to use fresh buds for each upper and lower eyelids, particularly if there is excess debris.
Step 4: RINSE & REPEAT
Rinse with warm water and using wet, fresh cotton balls remove excess debris. Again, use fresh buds for each eyelid where possible.
Aim to 'pat dry' and not wipe dry to limit irritation and ensure the skin holds a bit of moisture.
Repeat steps 1-4 on the remaining eye.
Step 5: MOISTURISE
It's common for skin around the eyelid to become dry and irritated after scrubbing. Unfortunately this can lead to ongoing inflammation.
For a nice finishing touch, use a dermatologically tested skin moisturiser around the eyelids. Be sure not to go near the eyelid margin.
I use QV intensive cream and it's made a big difference.
Voila! - there you have it. This whole procedure should take you 10 mins, but done properly, it will save you time in the long run and reduce the likelihood of future flareups.