Causes and Treatments of a Swollen Upper Eyelid

A swollen upper eyelid can be an embarrassing and painful condition to deal with. The best way to treat a swollen eyelid and prevent future occurrences is to understand what causes the eyelid to become swollen in the first place so that you can do your best to avoid such conditions in the future. There are three typical causes behind a swollen eyelid, which are bacterial infections, allergies, and blockage. We will discuss each type of condition and describe the symptoms commonly associated with each one. We will also describe the typical treatment options available for each of these issues.

The first cause of a swollen upper eyelid that we are going to discuss is bacterial infection. This is the most common cause behind eyelid swelling that occurs in only one eye, however it can spread to the other eye if given the chance. You may have heard of a condition called a "stye", in which the upper or lower eye lid becomes swollen, red, and very tender to the touch. Believe it or not, this is a rather common occurrence among people of all ages. A stye develops when bacteria gets into a sweat or oil gland found near the upper eyelashes. The bacteria infects the inner region which causes a red bump to appear. In some cases, pus may even begin seeping from the area. The bacteria staphylococcus is responsible for this type of infection, and it can be spread from one eye to the other and from person to person.

The pain and swelling produced by a stye can be alleviated using a warm compress. It is also a good idea to avoid wearing any sort of cosmetics or lotions around the infected area, as this could cause the infection to worsen, as well as infect cosmetic utensils. Speaking of which, one should never share their cosmetics or cosmetic accessories with others, especially if they have an infection. The area around the eye should be kept clean by washing with a gentle soap and warm water, but of course one should be careful not to get soap in the eye. Infections are worsened by dirt and keeping the area clean will ensure that the infection doesn't spread any further. If the stye doesn't clear up after a couple of days, it should probably be inspected by a doctor. He or she will confirm the condition and assess its severity. The patient will likely be given a prescription for an antibiotic or cortisone-based ointment to be applied to the area. Treatment usually lasts about ten days.

A chalazion is another condition that can cause a swollen upper eyelid, similar to a stye. The main difference between a stye and a chalazion is that a chalazion is not caused by an infection of the oil gland, but is actually due to inflammation of the oil gland caused by blockage. This type of blockage can be caused by a number of things such as dead skin cells, makeup, excessive oil production, etc. The lump that forms can grow slowly over a period of time, or it can happen quite rapidly. Chalazions can affect either the upper or lower eyelids--just like styes--but a chalazion is usually not as painful as a stye and the affected area doesn't always turn red.

Chalazions may be treated at home using warm compresses and abstaining from the use of cosmetics. If the swelling doesn't appear to go down after a few weeks of using warm compresses (10-minute applications, four times a day), then one should make it a point to see their doctor. A doctor should be seen straight away if the chalazion is accompanied by a fever, vision changes such as blurriness or inability to see as well as usual, pain in the eyeball, headache, or if both eyelids (of the same eye) are swollen. It is very unlikely that both eyes will develop a chalazion at the same time, therefore if both eyes appear to be affected by this condition, it's probably a good idea to schedule a visit with an ophthalmologist (eye specialist). In most cases, the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic ointment or steroid eye drops to treat the condition.

The last cause behind a swollen upper eyelid that we are going to discuss is an allergic reaction. When trying out a new brand of eye makeup, body wash, lotion, etc., it is possible that an allergic reaction can occur which causes the eyelids to swell up. I say eyelids because it is highly unlikely that one will produce an allergic reaction in just one eye unless it is due to accidental contact with an irritant, such as poison ivy. As there are a number of allergens that can cause this type of eyelid swelling (plants, food, cosmetics, and even dust), the best way to prevent a future reaction is to determine what caused the allergic reaction and avoid the "trigger" at all costs. It's usually a case of asking oneself if they have tried any new makeup products or other items and simply use a system of deduction. Over-the-counter allergy medications may be helpful in reducing the severity of the allergy symptoms, which often include red, itchy, watery eyes that may or may not be accompanied by swollen eyelids.

In most cases, warm compresses applied several times a day for a few days will clear up most swelling. However, if the swelling does not seem to go away or if it worsens, one should definitely schedule an appointment with an eye specialist right away. Our eyes are fragile and can sustain serious, even permanent, injury if they are not well taken care of.


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