Swollen eyelid— Common causes and how to treat

So you have a swollen eyelid.

It’s likely that you are A-ok… or Eye-ok! Here are common causes of a swollen eyelid

Swollen Eyelid from Eye Trauma

You got punched in the face. 👊🏼 Walked into a wall? Either way, your eyelid is swollen and bruised. You should grab a bag of expired peas and ice that baby. Ice-ice-baby.  Sorry…back to your eye. Next time keep your cool 😎 and stop fighting with walls. But….if it hurts to move your eye 👁 at all (the actual eyeball), you are unable to fully move your eye, or your vision isn’t normal, then go to your local urgent care or primary provider right away. 🏥

Swollen Eyelid from an Eye Infection

Now if your eyes are actually HOT 🔥,and red and swollen, you will need to get them checked.  It’s not normal to have a red ring around your eye, for your eyelids to be hot to the touch or to have pain when you look around. Fever? 🤒 Get checked! If you have these symptoms you could have a serious infection and you should call your provider to be checked out.

Swollen Eyelids from Allergies

Next is the itchy eye 👁. The itchy eye usually hits in the spring and fall when pollen 🌺 is coating your every belonging and your eye becomes a hot swollen mess. Itchy swollen eyes can be caused by seasonal allergies. You may not even realize you have been rubbing those poor delicate eyes all day and night. Now they are itchy and watery and maybe a little goopy.

A cool compress and some Zatidor eye drops are going to help calm the urge to itch, and will help with that puffy eye look you have going. You can find Zatidor drops over the counter at your local pharmacy. Let us know if you need help deciding on starting over the counter (OTC) Zyrtec or Claritin, which will help with general allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. Benadryl is an antihistamine— it is also an option for quick relief of itch. We can help guide you on this OTC as well if you aren’t sure when to take it. Relief is close!

With allergies, you should never have any vision changes, fevers, or red rings around your eye. If you find your symptoms worsening, or eye pain, get those eyes checked. 🏥

Swollen Eyelid from Conjunctivitis

If you are noticing yellow goop, or your eyes are sticking together and you feel like your eyes are about to be swollen shut (ew gross), this could be conjunctivitis.  Now, conjunctivitis can be caused by a virus or bacteria.  If it’s a virus, it will typically move from one eye to the next over about a day and then start to clear up. Usually, it’s bright red and runny. It clears as quickly as it starts. Normally if you wait 24 hours you can save yourself a visit to the doctor’s.  

If you find that you have nice pink eyes 👁, your eyelids are swollen, you have yellow drainage from both eyes 👀 and it lasts more than 24 hours with no end in sight, this is probably bacterial conjunctivitis and you will need antibiotic drops or ointment. Some people call this “pink eye.”  Usually, pink eye happens when someone lets one rip 💨 on your head. Just kidding, that’s just a rumor. You likely just touched something gross and then touched your eye.  🖐🏻 Good hand washing is a great way to prevent the spread of germs!

Some providers will call in a prescription over the phone 📲 if you have no other symptoms.  Meaning you JUST have gross eyes. No cough, no runny nose 🤧, and no fever 🤒. Some won’t. Doesn’t hurt to ask!  ☎️

Swollen Eyelids in Children Under 3

If your child who is under three years old has yellow goopy swollen eyes, they also might have an ear 👂🏻 infection. If they are totally happy and sleeping 💤 well with no signs of a boogey nose 🤧, then it might be just the eyes 👀. Unfortunately, it’s common for boogery kids to have both an ear infection AND conjunctivitis. You are likely going to have to be seen for the eyes regardless of other symptoms, but especially if your little booger has boogers, a cough, runny nose or fever.

Your little one  👶🏼 will likely do better with greasy messy antibiotic ointment, but if you can coordinate with a helper, the antibiotic drops are easy and quick if you have good aim! They both work equally great! Your child will be contagious for 24 hours after starting antibiotic drops. Wash your hands and clean the doorknobs– you can get it too!

Swollen Eyelids from Bug Bites

Lastly is the bug bite eye. 🐜. You played outside until dusk and little Susie got a big bite or two on her face. She wakes in the morning with a giant swollen eye lid 😑. Don’t panic 😳. She was lying down all night 🛏 and the swelling just hung out in her soft, thin eyelid. As soon as she has been up and about for a few hours, the eyelid swelling should go down and she should look less like a cyclops.  😉

To treat her swollen eyelid, make a paste with water and baking soda and apply to the bite. Get those frozen peas out again and ice that eye. The swelling should start to improve over the next 24-48 hours. Eyelid swelling from a big bite shouldn’t worsen as the days go on. Instead, the localized reaction should improve. Also, no fevers 🤒… well because that’s not normal with a bug bite. Got a fever? Call📱!


If you’re not sure whether your swollen eyelid is from a bug bite, allergies or something worse…like an infection… reach out to us. We can help hash this out. 📲 You need your eyes forever. 👀 Take care of them. Get them checked. It’s not worth the risk!  Anytime you have eye pain (pain in the actual eyeball), a deep beefy redness around the eye, swelling that is worsening, fever, lots of colored drainage or changes in vision, someone needs to see you.

If you have health questions (about swollen eyelids or not), reach out to us directly. We are Nurse-1-1. We’re a team of expert nurses, and we are always here to help! 👨🏽‍⚕️ 😇

Nurse-1-1 Health Center is written by nurses in a straight to the point type of way to provide basic health information. We get a lot of people like you searching online for answers to health concerns or looking for a hotline to ask a nurse a few questions. Questions like, I have been suffering from headache and fatigue for a while. Should I be worried? What is the the difference between a common cold vs flu? Is fever in kids bad? Well we can help. We put some info here for you to find while searching through all that other dry, scary medical information online. Stop that. Read our posts, or chat with us. This is not medical advice or a replacement for medical care, but see what we have to say with our free health information, and hopefully it will stop you from scaring yourself any more than you already have. We can help.