Swollen eyes occur when there is inflammation or excess fluid (edema) in the connective tissues surrounding the eyes. Swollen eyes can be painful and non-painful, and affect both the upper and lower eyelids. There are numerous causes of swollen eyes, including eye infections, injuries to the eyes or trauma, and, most commonly, allergies.

Swelling of the eyelids can also be a sign of a more serious, potentially sight-threatening health problem, such as orbital cellulitis, Graves ’ disease and ocular herpes. It is important that you visit your eye doctor for a thorough eye check-up if your symptoms persist, worsen or change.

Signs of Swollen Eyes

Causes of itchy swollen eyes

Itchy swollen eyes

Itchy swollen eyes are symptom of an underlying cause, such as allergy or infection. Swollen eyes usually are accompanied by one or more of the following:

  • Eye irritation, such as an itchy or scratchy sensation
  • Excess tear production, resulting in watering eyes
  • Obstructed vision Redness of the eyelids
  • Red eyes and inflammation of the conjunctiva.
  • Eye discharge or “mattering”
  • Eyelid dryness or flaking
  • Pain, particularly when swollen eyelids are caused by infection

Puffy vs. Swollen Eyes

The term puffy eyes often are interchangeable with “swollen eyes.” Swollen eyes is generally used to describe an immune response to allergy, infection or injury, whereas puffy eyes is more likely used to refer to the external physical characteristic of itchy swollen eyes from water retention, lack of sleep or genetic traits like dark circles under the eyes.

Itchy Swollen Eyes Causes

Itchy swollen eyes may be due to the accumulation of excess fluids or inflammation of the tissues which surrounds the eye. Also, it is a term generally used to describe the body’s immune system response to infection, injury, or allergy.

Swollen eyelids may also be transient or prolonged in duration and mild or severe. Even if this condition appears gradually or suddenly, it should never be ignored because it may be a symptom of a serious condition. Most of the time, a swollen eyelid can be a difficult problem to deal with.

The following are the main causes:


Conjunctivitis – Also known as the “pink eye”, this condition refers to the inflammation of conjunctiva which is contagious and may be passed from person to person. Conjunctiva is the clear lining of the eye’s surface. In this condition, the swelling and itchiness of the eyelids occur. Also, the conjunctiva appears reddish in color as well.

This may arise from factors such as allergies, viral or bacterial infections, environmental irritants, and chemicals contained in eye medications.

Blepharitis – This describes a condition in which the eyelids become inflamed due to the impairment of the eye glands which empty near the bottom of the eyelashes. Often, it is characterized by pain and itchy swollen eyes. Also, dandruff-like flaky skin as well as loss of eyelashes may occur.

Orbital Cellulitis – it is rare but serious medical condition in which the tissues around the eyes are infected. The most common agent which causes this condition is Staphylococcus aurous. When it reaches the eye cavity, inflammation and pain in the eyes will result.

Chalazion – An infection caused by the obstruction of the meibomian gland which results to eyelid inflammation and tenderness. It develops when the secretions from the gland cannot be drained out due to its obstruction.

Stye – it is a bacterial infection of the oil glands located near the eyelashes. This may cause swelling of the eyelid which is accompanied by lump formation, pain, and sometimes pus.

Ocular herpes – Also known as the cold sore of the eye, it is an infection caused by herpes which may cause inflammation and scarring of cornea. Herpes comes from a family of viruses which causes cold sores, genital herpes, and chicken pox. Symptoms of this condition include painful sores, itchy swollen eyes, as well as blurry vision.


This is the most common cause of swollen eyelids. When it arises, the immune system reacts overly to a certain substance called allergen. There are also instances in which allergic reactions may be severe and life-threatening.

Exposure to certain allergens in the environment. Some examples of allergens present in the environment include dust, pollen, and pet dander;

Cosmetic and eye productsUsually, using makeup triggers allergic reaction that results to swollen eyelids. Other products which may cause this condition are eye drops and contact lens solutions.

Drug allergyThere are some instances in which the body will react to certain drugs by having an allergic response. Examples of drugs which may induce allergy are codeine or penicillin.

Insect bitesBites from the insects such as the bee sting may cause the body to have an allergic reaction.

Other Causes

Graves’ disease

Patients with this condition or other thyroid diseases may experience itchy swollen eyes. Graves’ disease can also result to bulging of eyes, double vision, and reduced eye movements.


Certain conditions such as fluid retention and pre-eclampsia may cause swelling or edema. This includes edema of the eyes and the body in general.

Organ failure

Diseases leading to organ failure of the kidneys, heart, or liver may cause fluid retention which also results to eyelid swelling.

Prolonged exposure to sunlight

When a person goes outside in the sun without any protection, sunburns and may develop itchy swollen eyes. If this occurs, the skin on the eyelids becomes very sensitive.

Swollen Eyes and Rash all Over Body

Causes of itchy swollen eyes

Itchy swollen eyelids

Hives is a rash of smooth, raised, pink or reddish bumps of different sizes, called wheals. The wheals look somewhat like mosquito bites. They may cover all or part of the body and are usually very itchy.

Angioedema is related to hives but has a different appearance. Angioedema describes marked itchy swollen eyes, and mouth. It may also involve the throat, tongue, hands, and/or genitals.

  • The skin may appear normal, without hives or other rash.
  • The eyes may appear swollen shut.
  • The swellings usually do not itch but may be painful or burning.
  • The swellings may not be symmetrical (the same on both sides of the body).
  • Like hives, the swelling of angioedema can go away on its own.

Other, more severe allergic reactions may occur with hives or angioedema. A reaction may start with hives or angioedema and then progress rapidly to more serious symptoms. The most serious allergic reactions, which can be life-threatening emergencies, are called anaphylactic reactions.

Rash around Eyes and Neck

Sometimes a red, really dry and itchy rash can develop around the eyes causing a lot of discomfort and pain. There may be many reasons that cause the appearance of the rash around the eyes and neck; from inflammation of the skin or dermatitis, allergic reactions to external agents or indication of a disease like skin cancer. For a better diagnosis, it is important that a doctor closely examine what the rash, its color and the frequency with which it appears.

Common Causes of Rash around Eyes

Atopic Dermatitis

It is a common type of eczema, it is chronic in nature and results in skin irritation and dryness along with redness, peeling, hardening, breaking and bleeding of the skin. Atopic dermatitis frequently affects the skin of the scalp, hands, feet, neck and chest. The rash coats the skin of the face particularly around the eyes and also itchy swollen eyes. Although it is non-contagious, it has recurring characteristics, which makes it impossible to ignore.

Allergic Reaction

An allergic reaction could be due to the hypersensitivity of the body’s defense system against a particular substance. When an allergic reaction occurs, there is dryness, rashes and inflammation of the area around the eye.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is the exposure of the skin to allergy causing agents or skin irritants. It is either allergic or irritant in nature. Any contact with the allergens or irritants sets off a skin reaction that causes redness, irritation, and inflammation.

It is one of the commonest prevailing reasons for a rash around eyes. People who have previously had atopic dermatitis are likely at risk of developing it. This condition is not transferable but has the tendency to induce a lot of pain and discomfort.

Some causes of contact dermatitis are: contact with nickel, certain kinds of soaps, deodorants and detergents, skin contact with rubber, some kind of medicated creams, and peel of the citrus fruit

Lyme disease

A transmittable disease spread in humans by the bite of a bacterium called spirochete or Borelli burgdoferi. The callous bite of the insect provides a break in the protective barrier that permits it to inject the infection in the body.

It is prevalent in people who act as hosts to tick manifestation; these ticks harbor the bacterium, which later find their way to the human skin with the bite of the insect. This tick borne disease is present in abundance in the northern hemisphere.

Other Causes

Hay fever is amongst the many possible reasons for a rash around the eyes. Hay fever occurs due to airborne allergies and exhibits symptoms of watery eyes, chest congestion and patches of red, itching rashes. Histamines are the commonly known cure for this type of skin allergy.

The rubber from swimming goggles might be the reason. People who swim often wear the goggles a bit too tightly, causing a reaction from the rubber around it.

Swollen Eyes and Rash on Neck

Allergies occur when the immune system of a sensitive person overreacts to an irritating substance, or allergen. Itchiness, rashes and swelling usually occur when the skin is affected. The symptoms usually appear on the parts of the body that directly contacted the allergen, like the face and hands, but the puffiness and itchiness can spread if the allergy becomes severe.

Itchy swollen eyes and hives on neck

People with food or drug allergies may experience hives and angioedema on exposure to allergy-causing substances. Hives are tiny, red bumps that appear on the surface of the skin, whereas angioedema is swelling of the deeper skin layers. A person with a food allergy may initially experience itchy swollen eyes and rash on neck. The neck, mouth and eyelids and the entire body may swell or get puffy if the allergy worsens.


An allergic rash called eczema occurs in some people who have chronic skin allergies or a family history of allergies. The rash is very itchy and either dry and scaly or weepy and infected. Certain foods, emotional stress, soaps or wool can trigger a flare-up of eczema. In infants, the itchy rash appears around the cheeks, forehead and scalp.

Older people may develop rash on the face, neck, elbows and knees with itchy swollen eyes. People who suffer from chronic eczema may experience intense, uncontrolled itchiness on random parts of the body.

Rash and Swelling around Eyes

Causes of itchy swollen eyes

Rash and swelling around eye

Rashes around the eyes may be a sign of an allergic reaction or seasonal allergy. This is a common condition where the skin around your eyes feels sore and appears red and flaky. One of the most common causes of redness and itchiness around the eyes is hay fever or allergic rhinitis, which is a form of seasonal allergy.

The use of new products on the face and around the eyes can also lead to allergic reactions on sensitive skin. Examples of products that can cause a rash around and itchy swollen eyes.

Less common reasons for rashes around the eyes are autoimmune conditions, such as systemic lupus or dermatomyositis. These conditions involve other systemic or general symptoms that affect the body, such as muscle pains, fever, and changes in weight.

Swollen Eyes and Rash on Face

Whether it’s red, dry, or itchy, a rash around the eyes can be highly disconcerting and disruptive to your daily life. Since an eye rash is a very specific symptom, it usually indicates one of a small handful of possible culprits. Most forms of skin irritation or inflammation, the problem may just be allergies or a similar irritant.

An eye rash could also indicate a condition such as dermatitis or eczema. The worst case, of course, is a viral or bacterial infection. Given how the severity of each cause can vary, it’s important to arm yourself with information so that you don’t overestimate what your eye rash might be from.

What Causes a Rash around the Eyes and face

Whether the rash around eyes is in children or adults, the causes normally fall into one of the following categories:

Eczema – when it occurs on face or around the eyes is not the most common way this skin condition presents itself, but it’s far from unheard of. As a chronic condition, eczema can wax and wane over time and sufferers can experience periodic flare-ups or even perpetual but mild symptoms.

Eczema is a form of localized skin irritation that is characterized by dryness, redness, peeling, hardening, breaking, and possible bleeding of the skin. There is some evidence that atopic dermatitis can be worsened during periods of emotional disturbance such as high stress or anger.

Allergens – Although often associated with hay fever, other forms of allergy can also cause an itchy swollen eyes or red rash around the eyes. In addition to dander, insect bites, or things like poison ivy or oak, various food allergies can also make a rash emerge.

In these cases, you may get a rash around your eyes and mouth. Allergic reactions tend to come with dry or watery eyes, puffy or swollen skin at the site of the rash, itchiness and possibly raised and itchy bumps.

How to get rid of itchy Swollen Eyes

The main goal of the treatment for swollen eyelids is to decrease the inflammation as well as relieve the pain and the other accompanying symptoms. Treatment will be based on the determined underlying cause of the condition. If the swollen eyelid is due to an allergic reaction, the physician will prescribe antihistamine. It may be administered as an eye drop or oral medication.

Mild steroid drops may also be given to reduce the severity of allergic reactions. Artificial tears are also advised for lubrication to relieve the symptoms. As for the minor cases of swollen eyelids, simple home remedies may aid to relieve the condition. First, people with this condition are advised to refrain from rubbing their eyes because this will only make it worse.

Cool compress application is very helpful to reduce the swelling of the eyelids. Also, splashing cool water to closed eyelids may be useful as well. Other remedy involves the use of gauze pads soaked in milk. This is believed to minimize itchy swollen eyes.

Whether you’re out in the fresh spring air or cleaning your dusty basement, allergens run amok throughout the year. They trigger allergy symptoms like coughing, sneezing, stuffy and runny nose and itchy swollen eyes. Allergy can cause the eyes to swell and become red, itchy, watery, and really uncomfortable.

The reason people have swollen eyes from allergies is they’re getting contact in the eyes from airborne allergens as researchers suggest. Basically, what happens is that when the allergens hit your eyes, they sort of dissolve in your tears. They have contact with the lining of the eye, and they react with antibodies that are bound to cells in your eyes. These antibodies cause the body to release histamine — which also causes nasal congestion that often accompanies swollen eyes.

How Bad Can Swollen Eyes Get?

Although the medications and shots have helped reduce my other symptoms, they did not do much good in treating allergy eyes. Eyes often become swollen, itchy, bloodshot, and watery. Not only is it an unpleasant feeling, it looks awful.

Tips to Ease Swollen Eyes

Tips to ease itchy and swollen eyes

Applying a cold compress to ease swelling around an eye

Remember, these are your eyes we’re talking about, so check with your doctor before you try any treatment. Consider the following remedies:

  • Wash your face. Washing your face is one of the first things you should do to combat itchy swollen eyes. It can help wash away the allergens sticking to your skin and eyelashes.
  • Rinse out the eyes. Rinse out the eyes if you can with a little bit of water, and that’s usually helpful. That will loosen the allergens from the inside of your eyes and help to flush them out.
  • Apply a cold compress. Cold compresses around the eyes can be helpful with itching and swelling. Soak a towel or washcloth in cold water or refrigerate a damp cloth or eye pillow. Then lie down with the compress across your eyes to let the coolness reduce swelling.
  • Try allergy eye drops. Trying an over-the-counter eye drop made to soothe itchy swollen eyes caused by allergies. A doctor may prescribe an antihistamine eye drop which along with her other allergy treatments, soothes her eye.
  • Take oral medications or get allergy shots. Over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications, including antihistamines, can provide some relief for milder allergy symptoms, including swollen eyes. Along with her eye drops, Jones receives twice-weekly allergy shots and takes several allergy medications to keep her allergy symptoms under control.
  • Stay indoors. Weather conditions play a role. A breezy day with lots of pollen in the air can keep you from soothing swollen eyes because of continued exposure to allergens. On days when outdoor allergens are high, stay inside and save outdoor activities for just after a rain, when fewer allergens fill the air.

But if the following occur, you should call your doctor immediately:

  • Feeling like there’s something stuck in your eye
  • Pain in the eye
  • Blurry vision
  • Decreased vision

Researchers say that even these do-it-yourself and home remedies aren’t always a good choice. If you have intense redness that’s not leaving, you need to go see your doctor.

More references

  1. Swollen eyelid causes:
  2. Swollen eyelids:
  3. Itchy swollen eyelids:
  4. Rash around eyes:
  5. Puffy and itchy face from allergies:
  6. Rash around the eyes:
  7. Rash around the eyes causes and treatment:
  8. Allergy relief: soothing swollen eyes: