Sometimes you may wake up with a swollen, puffy face. This
may happen as a result of pressure being placed on the face while sleeping.
However, a swollen, puffy face can also arise from a facial injury or indicate
an underlying medical condition.
doesn’t just include the face, but can also affect the neck or throat. If there
are no injuries to the face, facial swelling can indicate a medical emergency.
In most cases, a medical professional should treat facial swelling.
What causes facial swelling?
Facial swelling can be caused by both minor and major
medical conditions. Many causes are easily treatable. However, some are severe
and require immediate medical attention. Common causes of facial swelling
- allergic reaction
- eye infection (such as conjunctivitis)
- side effect of medication
- cellulitis (bacterial infection of the skin of
- hormonal disturbance (such as thyroid diseases)
Recognizing a medical emergency
A swollen face due to an allergic reaction may be
accompanied by other symptoms. These are the symptoms of anaphylaxis
(serious allergic reaction). Proper medical treatment must be administered
immediately to prevent the reaction from turning into anaphylactic shock, which
can be lethal.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock include:
- swollen mouth and throat
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- hives or rash
- swelling of the face or limbs
- anxiety or confusion
- coughing or wheezing
- dizziness or lightheadedness
- nasal congestion
- palpitations and irregular heartbeat
- slurred speech
If you experience any
symptoms of anaphylaxis, call 911 immediately.
Symptoms of shock may set in quickly. These symptoms
- rapid breathing
- rapid heart rate
- weak pulse
- low blood pressure
In severe cases, respiratory or cardiac arrests may occur.
Common causes for an allergic reaction are allergens such
- insect bites
- animal dander
Recognizing facial swelling
Call 911 immediately if you’ve eaten foods that you’re
allergic to, have been exposed to a known allergen, or have been stung by a
venomous insect or reptile.
Don’t wait for the symptoms of anaphylaxis to set in. These
symptoms may not occur right away — although, they do in most cases.
Along with facial swelling, other symptoms may occur,
- hives or rash
- nasal congestion
- watery eyes
- chest discomfort
- stomach discomfort
- swelling of surrounding areas
Relieving the swelling
See your doctor immediately if you have facial swelling. If
a venomous bee sting caused the swelling, remove the stinger immediately. Don’t
use tweezers to remove the stinger — tweezers can pinch the stinger, causing it
to release more venom.
Instead, use a playing card: Press down on the skin in front
of the stinger and gently move the card towards the stinger. Then scoop the
stinger up from the skin.
If the swelling was caused by an infection in the eyes, nose,
or mouth, you will likely be prescribed antibiotics to clear the infection. If
an abscess is present, the doctor may cut open the abscess and drain it. The
open area will then be closed in with packing material to keep it from becoming
infected and reoccurring.
Soothing a rash
A rash can be soothed with over-the-counter hydrocortisone
cream or ointment. Using a cool compress also can soothe the itch.
Other causes such as fluid retention and underlying medical
conditions will be treated by a doctor accordingly.
Homecare treatment options
Prevent facial swelling by avoiding known allergens. Read
ingredient labels and ask your waiter what ingredients are in the dishes you
order. If you have a known allergy that can cause anaphylaxis and have been
prescribed epinephrine medication (Epi-Pen), be sure to carry it with you. This
medication is used to counteract a severe allergic reaction and can prevent
If you had an allergic reaction to medication, avoid taking
that medication again. Notify your doctor of any reactions you’ve encountered after
taking medication or eating certain foods.