Swollen Eyelid? It’s curable!
Toward the end of my master’s program, when I was taking board exams for acupuncture licensure, I developed an embarrassing disorder known as blepharitis. Blepharitis is characterized by swelling and inflammation of the eyelid and its related glands. It can affect one or both eyelids, the upper or lower, and the inner or outer, depending on the glands that are irritated. It has many causes: stress, autoimmune disorders like MGD and Sjogren’s, allergies, dietary causes, bacterial infection, injury to the eyelid, and even bad glasses or outdated contact lenses.
I personally had no pain, with the exception of occasional irritation due to drainage. However, it was very stagnant and it didn’t seem to be healing on its own. I quickly turned to my resources as an acupuncturist. I had several tools I used: guasha, acupuncture, acupressure/ tuina, magnets, herbal teas and herbal compresses, as well as smokeless moxibustion.
The goal was to heat the fluids and oils that had congealed in the eyelid. The glands of the eyelid, like the meibomian gland, are tiny and close to the skin surface. This makes it easier for the oils to solidify, as they near room temperature more speedily. I recommend steeping a peppermint tea bag, then using the hot tea bag as a compress on the eyelid. Apply it often, and when the eyelid is well heated, do gentle & vigorous massage around the brow and lid.
It Might Get Worse Before It Gets Better
As the fluid is heated and circulated through the eyelid, the gland might expand and turn into a chalazion. This can be distressing, but also indicative that things are moving. Do not get anxious—just keep heating and gently massaging to promote fluid. However, if you feel PAIN or BURNING—this is a good sign there is infection, and you should contact an Ophthalmologist, MD or OD for topical antibiotics and special care.
Jade Rolling & Facial Guasha: An Important Hygiene Method
For people who suffer with eyelid disorders like blepharitis, there’s some bad news: it is often chronic and must be managed for our whole lives. For this reason, it is important to add in hygiene methods for the eyelids. Facial guasha is a method of Chinese bodywork that uses a soft-edge tool to promote circulation in the muscles and fascia. It is like combing the muscles. Jade rolling is very similar—it uses a stone tool to dredge out the lymphatic build-up in the tissues of the face.
By doing this daily, you can maintain a healthy flow of fluids in the face, and avoid toxic build-up in the eyelid glands. Check out this following video to see how to use Guasha for eyelid disorders!
Go to Your Doctor, but Don’t Buy into Gimmicks
If you have blepharitis, it is important to get a professional opinion from a healthcare provider. Blepharitis can come from more serious infections, and might require special interventions and medicines for complete resolution. This is especially true if you have significant BURNING, BLEEDING or BLINDNESS. Seek care immediately if those symptoms are present.
If you have seen a professional and they declared your eyelid condition a non-emergency, then the information in this blog should be safe to apply.
I am currently doing research on blepharitis. My goal is to show how acupuncture and guasha might expedite the healing of eyelid disorders like blepharitis. Research consistently points to heat compresses and massage as being the most reliable intervention for blepharitis. However, new tools like “LipiFlow” are being manufactured to do heat and massage for people are exorbitantly priced—over $500 for session series!
For those of us that lack the insurance or money to spend on such a process, we can rely on these simple techniques of tea-bag compresses and facial guasha & acupressure. It takes dedication and consistency, but you can heal your eyelid!
Also, try acupuncture from a qualified practitioner. They might have herbs that can help address the underlying issue, bringing you a greater quality of life and long-term relief.
Contact me if you are seeking holistic treatment and TCM therapies for Blepharitis, Chalazion and other eyelid disorders. I would love to help you!