Swollen Eyelid: What to Do and When to See a Doctor

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The eyelid is a complex, fully functioning skin tissue that consists of eyelashes, tear glands (lacrimal), sweat glands (glands of Zeis or Moll), and sebaceous (oil or meibomian) glands. These tissues can develop inflammatory reactions, leading to a swollen eyelid.

A swollen eyelid is usually a symptom, not a condition. It’s very common and is usually due to allergy, inflammation, infection, or injury. The skin of your eyelid is less than 1 millimeter thick. But, since the tissue is loose and stretchy, your eyelid is capable of swelling considerably. 

A swollen eyelid is sometimes a symptom of a medical condition, such as:

  • eye doctor. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and examine your eye and eyelid. Your doctor will ask questions about other symptoms or changes that may be causing your eyelid or eyelids to swell. These could include contact with allergens or irritants, infections, or other health conditions. 

Remedies for Children

Children frequently experience eye irritation, typically from touching their eyes with unwashed hands. But there are several possible causes for eyelid swelling in children in addition to the causes listed above. These include:

To treat your child, try these home remedies:

Cold Pack

Apply ice or a cold pack wrapped in a clean, wet washcloth to the eye for 15 to 20 minutes at a time to decrease eyelid swelling and pain.

Allergy Medicine

You can safely give your child an allergy medicine or antihistamine by mouth. This will help to decrease eyelid swelling and itching. Benadryl every 6 hours or so is best. 

Eye Drops

For eyelid swelling that interferes with your child’s vision, use a long-lasting vasoconstrictor eye drop (such as a tetrahydrozoline, like Visine). No prescription is needed. The recommended dose is one drop every eight to 12 hours as needed for one to two days. 

Emergency Care

You should seek emergency medical care or call your doctor right away if you or your child experience:

  • Drooping of the eyelid
  • Fever that won’t break
  • Light sensitivity, seeing flashing lights or wavy lines
  • Loss of vision or double vision
  • Severe redness, inflammation, and a hot feeling
  • Severe swelling (the eye is shut or almost shut)