If you have a swollen eyelid, there are many things that could have caused it. Some of the causes can be easy to pinpoint, while others require a visit to the doctor. Some reasons for a swollen eyelid can be minor, while others can be major ailments that need quick medical care.

What's Causing Your Swollen Eyelid

If you've ever suffered from a swollen eyelid, you're not alone. This is common and can be because of something as simple as allergies or fluid retention. Swollen eyelids aren't always innocent though – there could be a more severe cause underlying your issue that needs immediate attention from a doctor.

To get a better idea of what causes swollen eyelids, here are ten of the most common causes.

1. Allergies

Allergies can affect your eyes in many ways – mainly making them itchy. Itching your eyes because of your allergies can cause red eyes and even swollen eyelids, among other things.

Too much itching, or a bad allergic reaction, can actually lead to bumps under your eyelids (this could be a stye, or it could be hives). Antihistamines and allergy eye drops can help out with this type of swollen eye, but if the swelling doesn't go down after a day, you should visit your doctor.

2. Lice or Eyelash Mites

If your eye is swelled up, and it's itching, and you don't have allergies – you may have eyelash mites. Eyelash mites live in the hair follicles of your eyelashes. They're small enough that you can't see them, but untreated they can cause infections, including pinkeye.

Kids (and adults) with lice can have eye issues from them as well. Lice will live in your hair – they don't care where that hair is.


3. Other Bug Bites

Biting and stinging bugs don't discriminate. If you've been around mosquitoes or maybe have a bed bug infestation, you swollen eyelid could be the result of a bug bite. In this case, if an oral antihistamine doesn't help bring the swelling down in a timely manner, you may want to go to the doctor to get something safe to put on your eye – like a steroid cream or an antihistamine cream.

4. Pink Eye


Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as Pink Eye, can cause redness and swelling. It's also extremely contagious. It can be caused by allergies, a virus, or bacteria. It can quickly spread from one eye to the other if not treated quickly.

It's recognizable not only by redness and swelling but also by puss and crust found on the eyelid and lashes. In some cases, pink eye will go away on its own (as long as you are keeping your eye clean and cleaning your pillow daily), but a trip to the doctor might get you something that will help it go away faster.

5. Medical Conditions


If your swollen eyelids are happening often, it could be a side effect of an underlying medical condition. A couple of these illnesses include ocular herpes and Graves' disease.

6. Fluid Retention


There are all sorts of reasons why fluid might build up in certain places in the body, including having kidney and liver issues. However, one of the main causes of swelling in eyelids is a back-up in the tear ducts. If you think this is your issue, seek the advice of your doctor to find out how to deal with fluid retention in your eyelid, and how to prevent it from happening again in the future.

7. Stye


A stye is a tender feeling “bump” in the eye, often in an eyelid. This bump can make your entire eyelid swell up, especially if you aggravate it. Styes are usually caused by an infection.

The best way to find stye relief from is to go to your doctor if the swelling gets bad – they can let the pus out of it (safely), which will begin promoting healing. Keeping a warm compress on your eye can also help reduce inflammation.

8. Trauma or Injury


Injury to your eye can cause swelling of your eyelid and more. This could be caused by all kinds of trauma and injury – from having your nose broken to being in a car accident. This type of swelling usually benefits from a warm compress and some Ibuprofen (it helps reduce swelling).

9. Cellulitis


Cellulitis can be orbital or pre-orbital. Whichever, it is inflammation that happen in the skin around your eye, which also swells up your eyelids. This is a nasty infection that can make it look like you got punched directly in the eye.

The swelling is intense. If you suspect that you have cellulitis, a trip to the doctor is a must.

10. Cyst


Cysts can happen all over the body, including in the eyelids. Swollen eyelids from cysts are caused by a blockage in the oil gland. Chalazions, another word for cyst, can happen in the upper lid and lower lid of the eye, but usually happens in the middle area of the lid.

They can start out feeling softer and then turn hard. They can increase and decrease in size. Cysts can often take a few years to clear up but tend to clear up on their own.

Eyelid infect

A Little More About Swollen Eyelids

When it comes to swollen eyes, there are two types of inflammation that can happen with your eyelids. They are anterior and posterior eyelid inflammation. Anterior occurs on the outside of the eye, and posterior happens on the inner edges of the eyelid, closest to your eye.

Allergies affect the anterior part of the lid. Oil gland issues are posterior.

What to Do About Your Swollen Eyelid

If the swelling doesn't go down on its own, with the help of a warm compress and an anti-inflammatory, within 24 to 48 hours, go see the doctor (go to the emergency room if you have to). If there is an infection in your eye or eyelid, like cellulitis, you may need an antibiotic in order to get the swelling to go down.

Not sure if you should go to the doctor? Don't question it if you have these symptoms:

  • Fever or increased temperature
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Trouble seeing
  • Double vision
  • Inability to move your eye
  • Inability to open or close your eyelid
  • Feelings of dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Shaking or jitters
  • Seeing floaters
  • Pain in your eye(s)
  • Feeling like something's stuck in your eye

There are some treatments you can do at home. If your swelling is caused by allergies or other minor issues that don't risk the health of your eye, you can try to bring down the swelling with these tips:

  • If a warm compress isn't working (which is recommended for pink eye), try a cool compress. A sift washcloth is the best choice.
  • Rinse your eye(s) with a saline solution. This will help with discharge and any particles that might be irritating your eyes.
  • Don't wear contacts while you're experiencing swelling.
  • Keeping your head elevated can help reduce fluid retention this is especially important and night).
  • Use antihistamine eye drops for eye allergies. Oral antihistamines can help as well.
  • Black tea bags can help reduce swelling. Steep in warm water, let cool, then put on your eye(s).

Is It Ever Too Soon to Go to the Doctor?

Swollen Eyelid

Many people will go directly to the doctor the moment they notice a swollen eyelid. When it comes to your health and practicing preventative health measures, there's nothing wrong with going to the doctor “too soon” to make sure that your swollen eyelid isn't being caused by anything too serious.

If you have severe swelling with pain, redness, and other symptoms, head to the emergency clinic if your doctor isn't open or can't get you in. It's important to protect your eyesight. Doctors understand that health issues can sometimes be scary, and it will take a great deal of stress off of you to go in and make sure the swelling isn't anything serious.

Final Thoughts on Swollen Eyelids

Having a swollen eyelid can be a very common thing, especially for allergy sufferers. Swollen eyelids aren't always a sign of something major, but they can be. If your eyelid is swollen and the swelling has persisted for more than a few days, go see your doctor and find out what the underlying cause is and how to heal it.


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