What Are the Causes of Swollen Eyes & Face?

Swelling of the eyelids and the surrounding tissue may cause alarm, particularly if the eyelids swell shut or the person experiences significant pain. While waiting for a medical evaluation, a person with swelling may wish to hold a cool compress against the affected areas to reduce discomfort. Treatment may vary depending on the cause for the symptoms. Knowing some of the causes for swelling of the eyelids and face may help determine necessary treatment.


Eye allergies may cause a person to experience swelling around the eyes, explains The University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center. If a person has severe allergies to foods and other triggers, the person’s face may swell as well. Typically, food allergies result in localized swelling around the lips and cheeks, but some people may experience significant swelling around the entire face. Allergy eye drops may reduce eyelid swelling, but allergy medications may help with overall improvement. If a person with swelling experiences difficulty in breathing, she should seek emergency medical attention.


Swelling of the face typically appears around the eyes and lips. Angioedema causes swelling just under the skin that may form “welts” on the top layer of skin. In some people, angioedema may stem from an allergic reaction, but other situations may trigger the condition as well. A person may have angioedema after an infection or as a result of conditions such as lupus and leukemia, explains MedlinePlus. For some people, doctors may not know the cause for the swelling. A mild case of angioedema may clear on its own, without treatment. Allergy medications often help reduce swelling. If a person experiences breathing problems, the situation requires immediate medical care.

Orbital Cellulitis

An infection of the tissues around and behind the eye may cause swelling around the eye and toward the cheek. This condition, called orbital cellulitis, poses a serious threat to the patient since the infection may spread. In addition to swelling, other symptoms may include a high fever, pain, vision changes, fatigue and discoloring of swollen tissues, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The muscles responsible for eye movement may also have swelling, and this may result in difficulty or severe pain with eye movement. Orbital cellulitis requires immediate medical care, and most patients with the condition require hospitalization. The doctor typically use IV antibiotics to treat the infection, and, in severe cases, a doctor may recommend surgical drainage of any abscesses.