What are the treatments for a swollen itchy eyelid?

Swollen, Red Eyelids

Treatment for swollen and itchy eyelids depends on the source of inflammation and irritation. Eye conditions that cause inflammation can be difficult to treat because they tend to reoccur, according to the National Eye Institute.

Causes of Eyelid Inflammation and Irritation

Eye infections are a common cause of swelling and itching.

Blepharitis stems from bacterial growth in the oil glands near the base of the eyelashes. It looks crusty and dandruff-like on the outside. It can cause swelling, itching, redness and dryness.

Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is usually caused by bacteria, virus or allergies. Pink eye can cause swelling, itching, burning and redness.

Corneal abrasions--a scratch to the front, clear part of the eye (cornea)--can be very painful and cause swelling, itching and the sensation that a foreign body is present.

Allergies are another common cause of itchy, swollen eyelids.

Eyelid problems can also be caused by rosacea, a disease of the skin.


Blepharitis is treated by applying warm compresses and washing the eyelids with baby shampoo. To use a warm compress: dampen a clean washcloth and hold over closed eyes for several minutes; repeat several times. This relieves itching and helps open up oil glands. Wash eyelids with a clean washcloth or a cotton swab soaked in clean water. Gently scrub eyelids for 15 seconds and rinse. Use a different swab for each eye.

Conjunctivitis can clear up without treatment, but if a bacterial infection is present, prescription antibiotics are needed. Compresses help relieve the irritation, but cleanliness is a must. Frequent hand washing helps prevent spreading pink eye.

Minor abrasions can heal on their own, but deeper injuries require medication, ointment and sometimes patching.

Allergy symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter drops, allergy medication or prescription drops, depending on the severity.

Eye problems from rosacea occur in about half the people with the disease, according to the National Rosacea Society. Symptoms are usually treated with oral antibiotics.

Additional Considerations

Most eye problems are minor and resolve themselves. Drops called artificial tears soothe irritated eyes and are available without a prescription. However, eye problems can worsen quickly. If that happens, consult a doctor immediately.

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