Swelling of the eyelids appears to be a quite common symptom many people complain about. Naturally, it gets them worried but most people do nothing and wait for the swelling to go down on its own.
A few may apply a warm cloth over the swelling, other take an over-the-counter antihistamine like Benadryl or Claritin but those more anxious may start picking and squeezing and even aggravate the condition.
You may be surprised to hear that there are over 70 causes of swollen eyelids. Some quite common, others quite rare. In order to avoid any complications, you should see a doctor and abstain from self-diagnosis and especially picking or applying any over-the-counter or so-called home-made treatments.
Depending on the severity of the onset of eyelid swelling, you may decide to consult some of the following medical professionals. You will not make a mistake by choosing a general practitioner, emergency physician, ophthalmologist or dermatologist.
You should remember that diagnosis is dependable on the additional symptoms. Paying attention to additional symptoms will significantly narrow the options. If you do notice any additional symptoms, do not hold them back. It is essential you reported them to the specialist you had previously chosen to visit. This action will lead to an accurate diagnosis and successful treatment.
A doctor will probably want to know some additional things such as duration and severity of the eyelid swelling (to figure out if acute or chronic), a brief family and your own medical history (to see if any inherited disorders may be to blame), if you had taken any medication, if you had any allergic or adverse reactions before, if you had a cold or a runny nose recently (to see if it could be viral), if you had redness or some kind of eye discharge (to see if it could be bacterial) to get a better picture.
Possible causes of eyelid swelling are:
1. Allergic reactions.
Swelling of the eyelids could be caused by hair spray, nail polish, make-up allergy, chemical allergy, animal and plant allergy. Animal allergies are most commonly caused by the household pets.
2. Blepharitis and chronic blepharitis.
Blepharitis is an annoying reoccurring condition that causes inflammation of the eyelids. There are underlying conditions that provoke blepharitis. They are acne rosacea, dry eyes, scalp dandruff, and different infections such as staphylococcus bacteria. Symptoms indicating possible blepharitis include burning in the eye feeling, foreign body feeling, excessive tearing and itching of the eye.
Conjunctivitis is a contagious infection of the eye. The infection could be viral or bacterial in origin but also triggered by an allergy, environmental irritants, contact lenses and eye - drops and ointments. It usually causes swelling, itching, burning, and redness of the eye protective membrane. Conjunctivitis easily spreads from one person to another.
Styes are enflamed sebaceous glands located near the base of the eyelashes. Most commonly caused by staphylococcus bacteria, they remind of pimples. It is important not to squeeze or pierce them so that bacteria wouldn’t spread over the entire eyelid. Washing hands is essential when applying any type of treatment on the stye because dirty hands will spread the infection.
Chalazion is caused by oil glands blockage. In return, swelling of the upper or lower eyelid occurs. Additional symptoms that may appear are redness, pain, itchiness and lumpiness of the eyelid. Your doc may suggest you to wait or apply hot compress, receiving corticosteroid injection or even a surgery depending on severity.
Some less common causes include:
Cellulitis - inflammation of skin or subcutaneous tissues.
Orbital Cellulitis - a bacterial infection of the around-eyes tissue. It causes redness and swelling around eyes and is usually a result of an underlying condition such as conjunctivitis, sinusitis or even diabetes.
Herpes - either herpes simplex or herpes zoster virus.
Kidney disorders such as
Nephrotic syndrome – characterized by high levels of protein in the urine; low levels of protein in the blood; swelling of the extremities and around the eyes. The syndrome occurs due to the damage of the small blood vessels that filter waste and excess water.
Glomerulonephritis – inflammation of these small blood vessels.
Swelling of the eyelids can also be caused by an unnoticed blunt trauma or an insect bite.
Do not forget to tell your doctor if you had traveled recently. Behavioral changes during traveling increase the risk of some medical conditions related to the eyelid swelling such as conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva) and trachoma (chronic follicular conjunctivitis).
Also, a rare disease called chagas disease could be a cause of eyelid swelling in recent travelers. Chagas, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is an infection caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and transmitted by insect bites or blood transfusions. Other symptoms related to the chagas disease are chagoma - erythematous nodule at the bite sites, fever, anemia one-sided facial swelling, tiredness, headaches, etc