Reasons for a Red Swollen Eyelid

A red swollen eyelid could be caused by any number of things, some minor and some more serious.  Often, other symptoms would be included such as puffiness, itching, and burning.  The most common reasons for this problem is infection, allergies, broken blood vessels, and trauma.  However, we wanted to provide some detailed information for these and other causes specific to a red swollen eyelid.

  • Pink Eye – If the pink eye is caused by allergic conjunctivitis, then it would not be contagious but otherwise, this type of eye infection is highly contagious, which is commonly seen in kids but it is also seen in adults.  Typically, along with the swelling and redness, people experience watering, discharge, burning, and itching.  Pink Eye needs to be treated with antibiotics so a visit to the eye doctor would be essential.
  • Allergies – Another cause of a red swollen eyelid is allergies.  In this case, allergies could be seasonal, seen in spring and fall, or it could be from chemical fumes, perfumes or air fresheners, pet danger, etc.  For allergies, puffiness and watering of the eye is common.  Usually, placing a cold, wet cloth on the eyes helps but if severe, allergy shots may be required.
  • Trauma – A red swollen eyelid could also be caused by some type of trauma.  Because the eyelid is comprised of thin skin, it would not take significant force to cause trauma.  Depending on the severity of the injury, the person may also have a problem with pain and/or burry vision.  Immediately after the trauma occurs, a cold compress should be placed on the injured eye but then, emergency medical care would be critical.
  • Broken Blood Vessels – Within the eye are very small blood vessels, often too small to be seen.  However, when a person strains, whether from lifting an extremely heavy object, pushing something heavy, or even rubbing the eye aggressively, these blood vessels can break.  Within minutes, the person would have a red swollen eyelid and while broken blood vessels look horrible, this is actually a harmless situation.  These blood vessels will repair on their own within days or weeks.
  • Foreign Objects – Sometimes, little particles of dust, dirt, hair, or something else can become trapped in the eye.  Usually, the tiny object could be removed carefully with the fingers or rinsing the eye with artificial tears or eye drops.  However, if a larger or more dangerous foreign object were to enter the eye, the person would experience a red swollen eyelid, along with pain.  In this case, it is vital that the eye not be rubbed, which could damage the cornea.  An immediate trip to the eye doctor would be advised to make sure no permanent damage is done.

The way in which a red swollen eyelid is treated comes down to the cause.  In many instances, the person could take care of the problem at home but sometimes, a professional medical doctor needs to provide care.  Of course, if at any time there was concern, then without question, a doctor’s care should be sought.


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