How to treat swollen eyelids

Updated April 17, 2017

Swollen eyelids can be caused by many things, including allergies, irritation, tear-duct blockages and infection. The American Academy of Family Physicians states that eyelid swelling is typically only a cosmetic concern, but it can be a sign of a serious underlying medical disorder. Persistent swelling, or swelling accompanied by other symptoms, requires medical evaluation. Treatment depends on the underlying cause.

Use an over-the-counter antihistamine to treat swollen eyelids caused by allergies. When allergies are responsible for eyelid swelling, eyelids will typically be red and itchy.

Apply a warm, moist towel or washcloth to your eyelids for 15 to 20 minutes several times each day.

Try cold compresses to temporarily reduce swelling. Cold works to constrict blood vessels and reduce inflammation.

Sleep in a semi-upright position if you notice your eyelids are puffy after sleep. This can result from fluid accumulation in the tissues around your eyes.

Avoid going to bed with eye make-up on to prevent irritation. If you notice increased swelling after wearing a specific cosmetic product, such as mascara, try switching brands.

Watch for signs of infection, such as a discharge or crusted eyelashes. Report any such signs to your doctor. You will probably need to apply an antibiotic cream to your eyes or use medicated eye drops until the infection clears.

Call your doctor immediately if you experience pain along with swelling, or if you notice any changes in vision. Eyelid swelling can sometimes be a sign of a serious medical disorder, such as kidney disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Over-the-counter antihistamine
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