Swollen Eyelids: 6 common causes and treatment tips

Our eyelids are thin folds of skin which cover and protect our eyes. At times our eyelids can appear to be red, inflamed or even swollen. Besides affecting our appearance, a swollen eyelid could also affect our vision if it is severe enough. In the majority of cases the swelling should subside within 24 hours however if it lasts longer than 24 to 48 hours you should speak to your pharmacist or doctor.

The following are 6 common cause of swollen eyelids:


1. Allergies

When your eyelids are swollen and your eyes are red, itchy or watery the cause could very well be an eye allergy. Allergies occur when our body overreacts to a foreign substance, known as an allergen. Common eye allergens include pollen, dust, pet fur, certain eye drops and various types of makeup. Eye allergies are rarely dangerous but they can be annoying. Avoid your known allergens and if you are suffering from allergies, taking antihistamines and using over-the-counter eye drops can help to alleviate the itchiness and dryness.


2. Exhaustion and tiredness

Exhaustion or fatigue can make your eyelids looks puffy and swollen. Water retention overnight can make your eyelids look swollen in the morning, especially if you  did not sleep well so if you are stressed and tired make sure to get a good night’s sleep. Applying a cold compress to your eyelids whilst lying in bed can also help to reduce fluid retention and eyelid swelling. Also, keep well hydrated and drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.


3. Blepharitis

Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids which usually occurs when the oil glands in the eyelids get blocked or malfunction. If you have blepharitis you may have oily eyelids and dandruff –like flakes around your eyelashes. You may also develop swollen and painful eyelids. This is usually a chronic condition and your symptoms can be controlled with effective treatment and eyelid hygiene practices. Applying a warm compress, limiting use of eye makeup and specially designed eyelid wipes, like Systane Lid Wipes, can greatly help to alleviate the symptoms.


 4. Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

Conjunctivitis is inflammation of the lining of the clear surface of the eye – the conjunctiva. Conjunctivitis can be caused by bacteria, viruses or even allergies. The inflammation can start in one eye and then spread to the other one too. Besides causing red, watery and itchy eyes, all types of conjunctivitis can result in swollen eyelids. A discharge of fluid which can be visible around the eyes is also common. Treatment of conjunctivitis depends on the cause therefore it is always wise to speak to your pharmacist or doctor before choosing a treatment.


5. Styes

Styes usually appear as swollen and red bumps on the edge of an eyelid. These usually occur because of bacterial infection and inflammation of glands in the eyelids. When these oil-producing glands get blocked, the eyelids often swell up. A stye is typically tender to the touch and somewhat painful. In the majority of cases, styes require no treatment. Placing a warm compress on the stye at regular intervals is usually enough to promote healing and to bring relief. Until the stye heals, avoid using eye products and eye makeup and never try to pop the stye as this could aggravate the infection. In certain instances or if the symptoms are more severe, antibiotics may also be needed.



 6. Chalazia (Cysts)

Just like a stye, a chalazion is also caused by a blocked gland on the eyelid. However, unlike a style, a chalazion develops into a hard cyst on the eyelid. Whilst styes usually occur on the edge of an eyelid, chalazia typically swell in the middle part of the eyelid. These bumps can grow quite large, however unlike styes, chalazia rarely hurt. Applying a warm compress to the eyelid at regular intervals can help a chalazion clear more quickly. However, if chalazia grow very large they can become painful and affect vision. If this occurs it is important to seek medical advice.