Swollen eyelid is an indication of some type of infection and can be accompanied by a slight discharge from the corner of the eye. Eyelid swelling can be caused as a result of allergies, blocked glands, conjunctivitis, orbital cellulitis, blepharitis, stye, and chalazion. Symptoms of eyelid swelling usually include inflammation, redness, itching, scale formation, etc., in the areas around the eyes and the eyelids. This swelling may be accompanied by severe pain and discomfort. It may also hamper one's ability to see clearly.
Causes of Swollen Eyelids
Though the eyelids as well as the area around the eyes can turn puffy due to the lack of sleep, stressful lifestyle, fluid retention during pregnancy (preeclampsia
), etc., swelling mostly occurs due to various infections, allergies, or physical trauma. There are several conditions that lead to swollen eyelids
however, we will look at some of the most common ones.
- Eye Allergies: Eyelid swelling may be the result of allergic reactions. One could be allergic to anything from soap, makeup, perfumes, cosmetic products, pollen, pet dander, etc. Insect bites or food allergies can also cause the eyelids to swell. When the eye is exposed to an allergen, the mast cells in the eye release histamines and other chemicals, to fight the allergen. These released chemicals, cause irritation in the eye, such as redness, itching and burning sensation. Swelling of the eye and eyelids is also seen. The allergy causative can be anything one comes in contact with, thus the identification has to be done carefully, mostly by the elimination method. One should try to find out the cause behind the allergies of the eye and then avoid coming in contact with that product.
- Contact Lenses: Damaged contact lenses can irritate the eye and conduce to swelling of the eyelids. Sometimes the type of cleaning solution used may also be the reason behind eyelid swelling. The best way to be sure whether your contact lenses are at fault, would be to stop using them for some time. If it fails to reduce, the swelling might be caused by some other factor.
- Conjunctivitis: In this condition, the protective membrane lining the eyelids and exposed regions of the eyeball, called conjunctiva gets swollen, itchy and red. Conjunctivitis or pink eye is caused due to environmental irritants, viral or bacterial infections, allergy, chemical (eye drops) etc., and can spread from one person to another. This is why conjunctivitis can be broadly classified into three groups infective conjunctivitis, allergic conjunctivitis and irritant conjunctivitis. Usually conjunctivitis heals on its own in a few days time, although antibiotic drops can be given to treat the condition.
- Orbital Cellulitis: This infection is a rare but extremely serious condition, involving infection of the tissues surrounding the eyes. In this infection, bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus enter the cavities of the eye, via a sinus infection or trauma to the eye region. Inflammation, pain and swelling in the eyelid and eyeball accompany this condition. Moreover, the sufferer can even experience blurred vision and fever. At the onset of these symptoms, one should immediately consult an eye doctor. If not treated on time, this infection can result in permanent vision loss and other neurological infections.
- Blepharitis: This condition refers to the inflammation of the eye margin, and is mostly caused by bacterial infection or seborrheic dermatitis (skin disorder). Blepharitis is characterized by excess oil production in the glands, situated at the base of the eyelashes. Moreover, the margins appear red with the base of the eyelashes attached with dandruff-like scales. Some other symptoms of this infection are reddened and inflamed eyelid margins, crusty flakes at the base of the eyelashes, itchy and burning eyes. Loss of eyelashes is also observed.
- Stye: Styes are caused by bacterial infections occurring in the sweat or oil-producing glands, at the base of the eyelashes. This infection is also accompanied by swelling and pus, thereby causing the formation of a painful red lump at the edge of the eyelid. Besides the pain, swelling in the eyelid deters proper vision and sometimes, the infection affects the whole eyelid area. There is no particular reason as to why people get affected by styes. The bacteria Staphylococcus is responsible for causing this infection. This bacteria is generally found on the surface of the skin, and is normally harmless, however, sometimes it makes its way into the body and causes various infections. Styes are infectious and proper hand-washing needs to be done, after touching the eyelids.
- Chalazion: This condition resembles a stye, however, there's a marked difference between the two. A chalazion looks like a stye, but mostly grows away from the edge of the eyelid. Eye duct blockage developed in the eye's lubricating glands causes this condition. Swelling in the eyelid and tenderness are the symptoms of chalazion. The latter stages are accompanied by the formation of white cyst-like bumps within the lower and upper eyelids. As time progresses chalazions usually disappear on their own.
- Grave's Eye Disease: People suffering from hyperthyroidism or Grave's disease may at times develop eye symptoms, which is termed as Grave's eye disease. People experience symptoms like eye irritation, swollen eyelids, excessive tearing, sensitivity to light, etc. People with eyelid swelling are advised to sleep with their heads elevated, so as to help reduce the swelling.
Home Remedies for Swollen Eyelids
Since the eye is a very sensitive and crucial part of our body, rather than making our own diagnosis, it's better to consult an eye specialist and find out the true cause of swelling. Till then avoid touching or rubbing your eye, as this will only aggravate the situation. One should also discard all makeup that has been used in the past few days. However, if for some reason an eye doctor’s appointment
is not until a day later, then you could try out these simple home remedies to reduce swelling of the eyelids.
- Teabags: The tea present in tea bags contains tannic acid which assists in swelling reduction. Dip a tea bag in a glass of tepid water and place it on your eyelid. After 15 minutes or so, you will find some relief.
- Cold or Hot Compress: Dip a face towel in a bowl of cold water and place the cold towel on your eyelid. For a hot compress dunk your face towel in tepid water and squeeze excess water out. Place it on your swollen eyelid. You may even wrap your towel in a plastic wrap to avoid water trickling down your face.
- Cold Milk: You can also take a large ball of cotton or gauze pad and dip it in cold milk. Apply the milk-soaked cotton on your eyelid for 15-20 minutes. This will definitely give you temporary relief.
- Cucumber or Potato: One can also place fresh cucumber or potato slices on the eyelid to reduce swelling. The slices must be cold, and as and when they get warm, replace them with fresh slices.
Don't take any medicines without the knowledge of an eye specialist. You may make the wrong diagnosis and take the wrong medicines. Always consult an eye doctor before taking unknown drugs. Moreover, home remedies may act differently for different people, which is why it is a must to check with an ophthalmologist prior to trying out any remedy. After the swelling subsides, maintaining proper eye care
can prevent from contracting an eye infection
in the future.