10 reasons for having a swollen eyelid

After a good (i.e. hardcore) crying session, we have all noticed that our eyes are red and quite puffy.

However, there is a number of other reasons which can cause swollen eyelid.

If you struggle with it and do not cry that often, in this article we will suggest what may cause this phenomenon.


Swollen eyelids can be annoying not just from an aesthetic point of view.

Even though they are mostly harmless.

It is possible that they cause pain or even worse – interfere with the person’s ability to see.

Therefore we advise you to see a specialist if you have any of these issues and the swelling lasts for over 48 hours.

Still, we are going to name 10 of the most popular causes for swollen eyelids.

What is a swollen eyelid?

First, let us explain what a swollen eyelid actually is.

It occurs when there is inflammation or excess fluid (edema) in the connective tissues around the eye.

Both the upper and lower eyelids can be affected.

A swollen eyelid is always a symptom of a more complex problem such as an allergy or an infection.

So, the swelling is an immune response to it.

As opposed to it, the term β€œpuffy eyes” refers mostly to the external physical characteristic of swollen eyes from water retention, lack of sleep for example.

10 causes for a swollen eyelid

Now we will head to the list with 10 of the most probable causes for a swollen eyelid.

Later on, some relief tips will be given as well.

1. Chalazion

Chalazion or cyst is not an infection but it occurs when an oil gland in the eyelid gets clogged.

Normally, chalazion develops in the middle of the lid and away from its edge.

They grow into bumps but rarely hurt.

The bumps usually last for a few days.

Hold a warm cloth over the swollen eye for 4-5 times a day in order to relieve it.

However, if the chalazion does not disappear on its own after a couple of days or gets painful, you should definitely see an eye doctor.

2. Stye

Unlike the cyst, the stye is an infection which forms in the gland in the eyelid.

It can either be internal or external.

Typically, a stye occurs on the edge of the eyelid and looks like a pimple.

It is crucial not to use makeup during this period or pop the bump because this way you may spread the infection.

In turn, this will lead to eye damage. Again as a home treatment, you can use a warm compress.

3. Allergies

If a swollen eyelid is combined with itchy, red and watery eyes, it might be caused by an allergy.

When you are sensitive to a certain allergen, your eyes release chemical “mediators” to protect themselves.

That is how eye allergies develop. Some of the most common allergens include dust, pollen, makeup, etc.

The best way to avoid known allergens or use antihistamine but it is better to consult with a doctor before that.

4. Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis or also known as pink eye can be caused by a bacterial, viral or allergic infection.

It inflamates the surface of the eye and can affect both eyes at the same time.

Your eyes may get itchy, red and watery as well.

Wash your eyes with warm water. The conjunctivitis can go on its own, without treatment needed.

It is important not to touch your eyes and keep your pillows clean though.

5. Cosmetic products

As we have mentioned before, makeup and skincare products are potential allergens.

When they get into the eyes, they can cause irritation.

If your eyes are swollen and you feel as if they are burning, you can buy eye drops (not eye-whitening drops or any other products since they can make it worse) – just ask a competent medical face!

If the artificial tears do not help, go see a doctor.

6. Cellulitis of the eyelid

Orbital cellulitis is a serious infection in the tissue of the eyelid.

It can be developed even by a tiny cut around your eye.

The infection is often painful and more common in children than in adults.

The cellulitis of the eyelid should be treated with antibiotics because it is a serious condition.

7. Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an inflammation caused by too much bacteria in or around the eyelids.

Symptoms of blepharitis include swollen and painful eyelids.

Some people can even experience dandruff-like flakes around their eyelashes.

Unfortunately, more often blepharitis is a chronic condition that can not be cured.

Nevertheless, it can be controlled with proper hygiene and the right treatment.

8. Graves’ disease

This is an autoimmune disorder which causes a higher release of the thyroid hormone.

The latter affects parts of your body like the nervous system, brain development and other vital elements.

There are a lot of ways to treat Graves’ disease like thyroid surgery and medications.

9. Ocular herpes

The ocular herpes is a herpes infection in or around the eyes.

It looks like conjunctivitis (pink eye) but it can be painful and cause blurry vision.

There are a few types of ocular herpes which vary from a mild infection to a more complex eye condition.

It should be treated by a doctor.

10. Blocked tear duct

When a tear duct gets blocked, trains can not be fully drained by the eyes.

Therefore, pain and redness occur. People with a blocked tear duct may find it hard to open their eyes after waking up.

The condition is quite common in newborns and children.

Usually, it is not harmful but it can become infected.

In this case, medical help should be sought.


If your eyelids are swollen due to exhaustion, lack of sleep or stress you can treat them with warm compresses or black tea bags.

If there is another reason for it though, you should definitely consult with a doctor to understand what it really is.

Try not to wear makeup while your eyelid is swollen and avoid popular allergens.

Typically swollen eyelids are not harmful and disappear within days.

Sometimes they can be a symptom of a more serious condition when treatment is needed.

Author: Ilina Stoyanova

Read more:

10 Tips on how to have Healthy Eyes

Why dry eyes are a common thing in our everyday lives?

Why would my eyes feel tired all the time?

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