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Eyelid Swelling

Swelling of the eyelid may appear as an increase in size in the eyelid or skin surrounding the eye. It may change the shape of the area. The swelling may be isolated to one or both eyes. You may also notice increased warmth in the area and redness.

If you have not gotten enough sleep, there may be swelling or bags around the eye when you first wake up. This is normal and will go away on its own. However, eye swelling from most causes will be worse in the morning.

Severe swelling or swelling with heat and pain may be caused by an infection or injury. Your doctor can help you with these causes.


Eyelid swelling may be caused by

  • Blepharitis — inflammation of the eyelids, may be due to infection, allergies, makeup or other chemicals, or other causes
  • Allergic conjunctivitis — common cause of swelling; may be associated with itchy, watery eyes
  • General allergic reaction such as hives
  • Contact dermatitis—such as poison ivy
  • Infectious conjunctivitis (pink eye) — may be associated with redness and discharge from the eyes
  • Infection (eg, periorbital cellulitis, orbital cellulitis) — may be associated with eye redness, heat, pain and fever
  • Dacryocystitis — blockage and infection of the tear duct
  • Injury or blow to the eye — may be associated with bruising and pain
  • Fluid retention — due to chronic condition (eg, heart failure, kidney disease, liver disease, thyroid disease)
  • Chalazion — hard bump that forms on the eyelid

Home Care

Take these steps at home:

  • If you have itchy eyes and allergies, avoid exposure to the things that trigger your allergies (eg, pet hair, pollen).
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • For some relief, place a cool compress on your eyes.
  • Talk to your doctor about using antihistamine medicine and eye drops.
  • If you have a minor injury, consider using an ice pack. Do not place ice directly on the skin. Use an ice pack bag or wrap ice in a towel.

When Should I Call My Doctor? 

Call your doctor if you:

  • Are not sure of the cause of swelling
  • Have swelling that is not relieved with home care
  • Have eye discharge
  • Have eye pain
  • Think that you have foreign material in your eye
  • Have vision problems, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light
  • Have signs of infection, such as redness, pain, fever or chills


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Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.