We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are the Common Causes of Swelling Under the Eye?

By Deborah Walker
Updated Jan 27, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Swelling under the eye, or edema, is commonly caused by normal aging, hypothyroidism, allergies, infection, or lifestyle choices. Sometimes, hormones related to pregnancy or menstruation may cause swelling. Puffiness may be treated with cold compresses or taking preventative action such as lifestyle changes. Occasionally, those with eye swelling may need to seek surgical intervention.

As people age, the delicate skin around the eyes becomes thinner, and it also tends to lose its elasticity. Sometimes, the fat under the skin begins to bulge or fill out the less elastic tissue, which can lead to long-term swelling or puffiness under the eyes. It may be treated with cosmetic surgery.

Hypothyroidism may be a cause of overall facial swelling, including swelling under the eye. This is caused by mucopolysaccharides, or long chains of sugar molecules, pulling fluid into the tissue under the eye. If swelling is chronic, and if a person suffers from other symptoms of hypothyroidism such as cold intolerance, lethargy, and/or weight gain, a thyroid test might be warranted.

Allergies are sometimes responsible for puffiness under the eyes. Reactions may occur with exposure to animal dander, foods, plants, and many other environmental agents, even when a person hasn't reacted to them in the past. Antihistamines are often the treatment of choice for common allergens.

Blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelids, is an infection that may cause swelling under and around the eyes. Symptoms may include itching, excessive tearing, feeling as if something is in the eye, or burning. Treatment may include antibiotic ointment or drops.

Conjunctivitis may be viral, bacterial, or due to an allergen. This is a very contagious illness that can cause swelling under the eyes, redness in the white of the eye, or itching or burning sensations. This illness is usually treated with antibiotic ointment or eye drops.

A stye may cause swelling around the eyes, too. This is a bacterial infection in which the oil glands at the base of the eyelashes become inflamed. Styes resemble small bumps, similar to acne, and like acne, they should not be popped because that could spread the bacteria. They are generally treated with antibiotics.

Lifestyle choices are another common cause of swelling under the eye. Oversleeping, sleep deprivation, or eating a high-salt diet might cause fluid retention throughout the body, including under the eyes. Alcohol tends to dehydrate the body and may trigger under-eye puffiness. Getting enough sleep and eating or drinking in moderation are necessary steps to avoid lifestyle-related eye problems.

Hormonal shifts during menstruation and pregnancy may also contribute to eye and face swelling. During hormonal fluctuations, the body may retain fluid. In addition to common premenstrual abdominal bloating, the skin under the eyes might become slightly swollen. People can treat this type of puffiness by keeping themselves hydrated. Some beauty experts recommend putting used tea bags, cucumber slices, or cold compresses over the eyes for several minutes to cool the area, causing the blood vessels to shrink.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Wisedly33 — On Jul 14, 2014

I had something in my lower eyelid and ended up having the eye doctor get it out. It made my eyelid swell something awful.

The worst part was my sister and I had been on vacation, and I had to drive from the hotel to the airport, get on the plane and then drive home with something in my eye! I made it home OK, but that's certainly not an experience I ever care to repeat! It was painful.

The eye doctor just pulled my lid down, flicked out the schmutz with a cotton swab and gave me some drops. Wish I could have done that myself! It would have saved me a great deal of trouble.

By Scrbblchick — On Jul 13, 2014

My husband had some swelling under one eye. It came up very suddenly and he said it itched.

I advised warm compresses and said we might think about going to the urgent care clinic if it didn't clear up. After a couple of days, I actually squeezed it very gently, and it was an infected pimple or something. I got stuff from it and put some antibiotic ointment on it. The next morning, the swelling was nearly gone. I've had those tiny undereye pimples before, but they never swelled up like that on me. It looked like he'd been hit in that eye, except it wasn't black and blue.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.