A swollen eyelid may be mild or severe, temporary or long-lasting. Whether it appears suddenly or comes on gradually, a swollen eyelid should never be ignored. Learn more about what you can do to help relieve the symptoms.
A swollen eyelid can be difficult to deal with at times. Unfortunately, most of us have had to deal with a swollen eyelid at some point in our life. Causing discomfort, embarrassment, impaired vision and difficulties when applying cleanser or make-up, touching or rubbing, eyelid swelling can become serious if it’s not treated properly and quickly. In most cases, puffy, tender and red swelling of your upper and/or lower eyelid is usually an indication there is an infection. Sometimes, the swelling can be accompanied by discharge in the corner of your eye. Depending on the severity of your pain, you may or may not want to seek medical attention immediately or try at-home remedies instead. Still, if you have a swollen eyelid, there is generally an underlying cause, and if you don’t know what that is, you may want to find out in order to prevent the condition from happening again or persisting. There are two types of eyelid swelling; painful and non-painful. Below are possible causes of both types.
What Causes A Swollen Eyelid
Painful, swollen eyelids can be caused by numerous things such as:
- Infections- These can range from bacterial to virus infections, and can be caused by numerous different things ranging from allergies to chemicals.
- Conjunctivitis – The protective membrane lining the eyelids and exposed regions of the eyeball called conjunctiva, get swollen, itchy and red.
- Orbital Cellulitis - Rare condition, involving an infection of the tissues surrounding the eyes.
- Blepharitis – The inflammation of the eye margin mostly caused by a bacterial infection or a skin disorder.
- Styes – Caused by bacterial infections occurring in the sweat or oil producing glands at the base of the eyelashes. Can be accompanied by pus, swelling, and redness.
- Chalazion - Resembling a stye, it grows away from the edge of the eyelid, caused by eye duct blockage developed in the eye’s lubricating glands.
Non-painful, swollen eyelids can be caused by things such as:
- Allergies - Known or unknown allergies
- Sinuses – Water retention or allergies can cause sinuses to become irriated
- Gland Blockage - Result of overproduction of fluids within the eye or an infection
- Contact lenses or Solutions – Dirty lenses or certain types of cleaning solutions can contribute to swollen eyelids.
People experiencing a swollen eyelid, whether it’s their upper or lower eyelid, should seek medical attention from an eye specialist such as an ophthalmologist. If you are experiencing eyelid swelling on a regular basis it could be due to something with a simple fix like allergies within face wash, fragrances, make-up, laundry detergent, etc. If you are experiencing eyelid swelling on a regular basis but have no known allergies, there could definitely be a more serious problem or eye condition causing the swelling.
Swollen Eyelid Symptoms
Swollen eyelids are usually accompanied by different symptoms. These symptoms can happen or take effect before, during or after the swelling begins in areas around the eye and eyelid. These symptoms include:
- Scale Formation
- Facial Swelling
- Loss of Eyelashes
These symptoms can sometimes be just as annoying as the swollen eyelid itself. It’s extremely important that you avoid touching or rubbing your eye/eyelid at all times. You can transfer foreign objects or other bacteria into your eye, which will only make the situation and symptoms worse.
Swollen Eyelid Treatment
Again, depending on the severity and reason for your swollen eyelid, you may or may not want to seek medical attention. For some people who are in tune with their bodies, they know exactly the cause (usually allergen-based) of the swollenness. For others, the swelling can come as a surprise, and therefore treatment options may be unknown.
The first thing you can do, regardless of the cause of your swollen eyelid is avoid touching, rubbing or staring at the swelling. Staring at the swollen eyelid will only lead to touching and rubbing, so stay out of the mirror and avoid the temptation. Avoid wearing make-up, including powders and base. Particles can fly through the air and irritate your eyelids even more. Try using a cold cloth or even cucumbers twice a day. Splashing cool water on your face can help reduce facial swelling. Gauze pads soaked in milk can also help reduce the swelling in and around your eyes. Over-the-counter antihistamines and/or eye drops can help too.
If you choose to seek medical attention, your doctor will probably (depending on the cause) prescribe you an antihistamine, special eye drop, or an ointment to treat the swelling. Your doctor will also be able to determine if there is an infection and prescribe you antibiotics.
- J. Lavine, MD “The Eye Care Sourcebook” (Contemporary Books, 2001) 29-30
- J. Weizer, MD; J. Stein, MD, MS “Reader’s Digest Guide to Eye Care” (Quantum Publishing, Ltd. 2009) 33
- J. Anshel, MD “Smart Medicine for Your Eyes” (SquareOne Publishing, 2011)