Facial swelling – causes, treatment

Facial swelling

Facial swelling can occur for very different reasons. These reasons include, for example, allergiesheadaches, renal dysfunction and diseases of the head and facial area. Some childhood diseases such as mumps and diseases of the teeth and jaw also cause facial swelling.

What is facial swelling?

Facial swelling is the unnatural swelling in the facial area that is not due to weight gain. In kidney patients, these are the typical, “doughy” edema under the eyes.

Many internal diseases, which can affect not only the kidneys, but also the liver and other organs, are accompanied by facial swelling. Alcohol abuse and drug abuse can also manifest themselves through facial swelling. Bad teeth and diseases in the jaw area as well as after dental procedures very often lead to facial swelling, which is usually one-sided.

Acute, allergic reactions can also lead to facial swelling. Finally, nights experienced, headaches, migraine attacks and trigeminal neuralgia are also responsible for facial swelling.


A facial swelling that cannot be explained otherwise should always lead the person concerned to the doctor. This can sometimes make a suspected diagnosis based on the type of swelling and examine the patient in this direction.

He will do a blood count, check the function of the kidneys and possibly send the patient to the dermatologist to perform an allergy test. Sometimes facial swelling under the eyes is the first sign of chronic or acute kidney failure, especially in kidney patients. If there is a life disease, it also very often comes to facial swelling. Not only acute alcohol abuse can lead to such swelling, but also chronic liver failure and liver cancer.

Migraine attacks can cause a variety of symptoms and it is not uncommon for such an attack to lead to a mostly one-sided facial swelling. Trigeminal neuralgia is also a very painful matter, because this fifth cranial nerve is damaged or inflamed. Diseases in the tooth and jaw area lead to a one-sided, sometimes considerable facial swelling.

Diseases with this symptom

Diagnosis & course

While facial swelling in dental and jaw diseases gradually disappears after treatment, other patients are affected by any permanent facial swelling. These include patients with diseases of the liver, kidney, thyroid gland and heart.

Here, just as with jaw diseases, the causes must be treated, but not in all cases improvement is in sight. Especially in kidney diseases, edema, i.e. water retention under the eyes, is characteristic and above all chronic. Contact and food allergies as well as insect bites can also lead to facial swelling, which the doctor can detect during further examinations.

Unfortunately, physical violence occurs again and again in families. Doctors are urged to pay attention to facial swelling caused by beatings and other forms of abuse, especially in children and women. Not every child and not every woman talk about physical violence, which occurs in all social strata of society.


Swelling in the face is not only particularly bad because of its visible appearance. They can also lead to massive complications. Depending on the cause of the swelling, different complications are possible.

If the cause is erysipelas (a wound rose), the first complication lies in the possibility of blistering of the upper layer of the skin. Then the infection can spread in the area of the lymphatic columns, which partly leads to swelling of the lymph nodes. Blisters or bleeding in the area of inflamed skin areas by as pathogens can occur especially when toxins (toxins) are secreted. People with a disturbed immune system are particularly at risk for lymphatic congestion because the can no longer drain properly. Lymphedema (lymphatic swelling) cannot be ruled out. In the worst case, the lymphatic swelling is irreversibly interspersed with . Thrombophlebitis (inflammation of the veins) and, in rare cases, sepsis (blood poisoning) are also possible. The kidneys are also at risk due to immunological incorrect reactions. If get into the brain, cannot be ruled out any more than cerebral vein thrombosis. Chronifications are also known.

In the case of shingles with swelling on the face, care should be taken to ensure that the zoster ophthalmicus does not manifest itself in the form of inflammation of the conjunctiva, sclera or iris or cornea. Paralysis of the eye muscle is also possible and, like all other complications, should be examined immediately by a specialist orphthalmologist. In the ear area, the zoster oticus can lead to fascial paralysis. If the pain still persists after about four weeks, the stage of postherpetic neuralgia with or without sensory disturbances is present.

When to go to the doctor?

Swelling of the face can be an important warning sign of the body, which must be listened to. It is imperative to clarify why the complaints occurred. This is especially true for sudden and easily visible swelling that is not due to any specific cause. Because often there is also the suspicion of a previously unknown allergy in the room.

Especially after eating nuts or other foods that are a frequent reference point of intolerance, early medical advice is helpful. This also applies if there is a suspicion of another allergic shock. If a food intolerance is known, the relevant medications should be administered. Subsequently, it is mandatory to consult a doctor.

But even if the facial swelling is unlikely to be the result of an allergy or intolerance, obtaining professional medical treatment is essential. Although the emergency doctor does not have to be consulted. However, a long wait is counterproductive. It could jeopardize the success of treatment and intensify the existing causes.

Due to the large number of possible causes, facial swelling must therefore be treated with particular caution. In case of doubt, those affected should decide to visit a doctor in order to protect themselves and others from danger.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of facial swelling is carried out according to the underlying cause. For example, cold pads after tooth extractions and other jaw treatments can bring relief and reduce swelling.

If there is an acute allergy, the doctor can treat it with antihistamines, which are either injected or administered in tablet form. Headaches, migraines and trigeminal neuralgia very often pass into chronic forms with acute attacks. After the end of such pain attacks, facial swelling usually disappears very quickly. While affected patients could hardly be helped a few decades ago, modern painkillers and treatment preparations are available today.

Especially behind migraine can be a variety of causes such as hormonal fluctuations, food intolerances and a family disposition. It takes time and patience to treat migraines, trigeminal neuralgia and other forms of facial and headaches, as well as the facial swelling that occurs.

If the doctor recognizes that there is facial swelling in children or adolescents such as the often quoted “black eye”, he must not only perform an accurate whole-body examination. He must document the violations and immediately inform the competent authorities so that affected minors can be offered protection and assistance.

Outlook & Forecast

If the facial swelling is due to an allergy, the symptoms can usually be treated very successfully with medication. Creams, ointments as well as eye and nose drops containing antihistamines or cortisone are used to counteract allergic inflammation. The facial swelling subsides promptly after using these drugs. However, the patient must expect that the facial swelling will recur with each contact with the allergen.

In the case of contact allergies and food intolerances, an adjustment of lifestyle and consumption habits is necessary. It becomes more difficult for patients who suffer from or are allergic to house dust, as in these cases a consistent avoidance of irritants is hardly possible. These patients have to adjust to a chronic illness and the constant recurrence of certain symptoms. In severe cases, a hyposensitization (vaccination cure) is also possible, but this is lengthy and not suitable for all those affected.

For facial swelling caused by problems with your teeth or Jaw , a visit to the dentist usually provides immediate relief. Occasionally facial swelling occurs during the growth of the so-called wisdom teeth . Here the dentist cannot usually provide therapeutic support. However, the swelling is harmless and will go away on its own after a few days.

If the facial swelling is due to an underlying illness such as a cold or a childhood illness, the symptoms usually subside in parallel with the causative illness.


Facial swelling can often be avoided by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Allergy sufferers are treated by dermatologists and Allergists with desensitization and the triggering allergen must be avoided.

Regular visits to the dentist help to avoid caries and gingivitis and thus also facial swelling. Patients with migraine, trigeminal neuralgia and other forms of headaches can have their underlying condition treated long-term.

In diseases of the internal organs, the treatment of the underlying disease is in the foreground, so that it does not come to chronic facial swelling. Children and women need help with abuse and resulting facial swelling.

What you can do yourself

Swelling on the face is not only painful, but can also be perceived as a heavy burden in everyday life. Depending on the trigger of the facial swelling, there are options that can be taken in addition to medical therapy to alleviate the suffering.

Cold helps against swelling. Cooling pads from the pharmacy can be wrapped in a tea towel and held to the affected area. Alternatively, ice cubes can also be used for this. It is important not to press too hard. Such cold treatment should not last longer than ten minutes at a time. However, it can be done up to five times a day. An old home remedy for swelling on the face is the use of a turmeric and sandalwood paste. This can easily be made by yourself. Simply mix red sandalwood with the same amount of turmeric to a homogeneous mixture. The mixture can then be applied to the affected skin areas. This paste has a soothing and decongestant effect and can be washed down with water after half an hour.

Triggers for swelling in the face can also be incorrect dietary patterns. Often too much is the cause. Excessive sodium consumption in the form of table salt can lead to accumulation of fluid in the skin tissue. Therefore, it can be helpful to reduce salt consumption. Fluid retention under the facial skin can still be relieved by an additional pillow. If the head is higher while sleeping, the fluid can drain better.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.