Read below about swelling on one side of the face, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your swelling on one side of the face from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Swelling on One Side of the Face Symptoms

Perhaps you're walking down the street or in a meeting with colleagues, and you notice something is off. Your face has felt a bit strange lately, so you excuse yourself to the bathroom. Much to your chagrin, you notice swelling on one side of your face.

Facial inflammation and swelling can come from many different parts of the face, and may vary in size, severity and discomfort.

The swelling can be associated with the following:

Swelling on One Side of the Face Causes Overview

Swelling, or inflammation, is your body's natural way of responding to an insult and letting you know that something is wrong. Since there are many organs and structures on the face, the source of the swelling can vary widely. You and your doctor can look at factors like the quality and location of the swelling as well as any potential triggers or injuries in trying to determine the underlying cause.

Irritation:

  • Insect bites: Bug bites are common, and for some people they can become big, red, itchy, and swollen.
  • Plants: Venturing into wooded areas can be fun, but it also puts you at risk for contact with irritating plants like poison ivy or poison oak.
  • Allergies: Common allergies to plants, pets, or other irritants can result in facial swelling at times.

Infection:

  • Skin infection: Bacteria can invade the skin surface and cause uncomfortable redness and swelling.
  • Pimples: Pimples occur when bacteria invade tiny pores in the skin, leading to infection and swelling.
  • Swollen lymph nodes: Lymph nodes stores immune cells and can become painful and swollen when fighting an infection.
  • Swollen glands: These glands produce important products like tears and saliva, and they may become swollen if infected or otherwise irritated.
  • Dental problem: An infection in the mouth, such as a tooth abscess, can lead to pain in the mouth and swelling that is visible to the outside.

Other causes:

  • Cancer: In rare cases, certain types of cancer show up as facial masses. They can grow and spread quickly.
  • Trauma: Talking a blow to the face can be uncomfortable and may lead to swelling and discomfort, because of underlying injuries to the soft tissues or other areas.

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Swelling on One Side of the Face

Updated on Aug. 29, 2018

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced swelling on one side of the face. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Allergic Reaction (Not Life - Threatening)

    When the body encounters a harmful substance, it responds with inflammation and swelling that can be protective. In many individuals, the body responds this way to substances that are not normally harmful, like foods or pollen. This is the basis of allergy, or Type 1 Hypersensitivity.

    Symptoms should resolve in a matter of hours.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    swollen face, swollen lips, lip numbness, hives, red swollen bumps or patches with a pale center, lip redness
    Symptoms that never occur with allergic reaction (not life-threatening):
    shortness of breath, throat itching
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Acute Salivary Duct Stone (Sialolithiasis)

    A salivary duct stone is the most common disorder of the salivary glands (where you make spit). They can range in size from tiny particles to stones that are several centimeters in length.

    Symptoms last 26 days on average

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    swelling on one side of the face, swollen jaw, painful face swelling, spontaneous jaw pain, painful jaw swelling
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  3. 3.Skin Abscess

    A skin abscess is an infection of the deeper skin that's typically due to bacteria seen on the skin. Recently, infections are more frequently caused by Staph. Aureus (puts the "staph" in "staph infections"), which is dangerous and requires treatment.

    Good prognosis with treatment

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    rash with bumps or blisters, red rash, red skin bump larger than 1/2 cm in diameter, pus-filled rash, rash
    Symptoms that always occur with skin abscess:
    rash with bumps or blisters
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  4. 4.Cellulitis

    Facial cellulitis is a skin infection that typically comes from other parts of the face like the mouth or the sinuses and needs antibiotic treatment. Symptoms can be pain, redness, warmth and swelling of the affected area.

    Dependent on severity of infection

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, chills, facial redness, swollen face, face pain
    Symptoms that always occur with cellulitis:
    facial redness, area of skin redness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Swelling on One Side of the Face Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having swelling on one side of the face.

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  5. 5.Chronic Salivary Duct Stone (Sialolithiasis)

    A salivary duct stone is the most common disorder of the salivary glands (where you make spit). They can range in size from tiny particles to stones that are several centimeters in length.

    Symptoms last 26 days on average

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    swelling on one side of the face, swollen jaw, spontaneous jaw pain, painful jaw swelling, painful face swelling
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  6. 6.Bruise of the Face

    A bruise is an area of skin discoloration. A bruise occurs when small blood vessels break and leak their contents into the soft tissue beneath the skin.

    1-2 weeks

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    swelling on one side of the face, head or face injury, painful face swelling, warm and red face swelling, face bruise
    Symptoms that always occur with bruise of the face:
    head or face injury
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  7. 7.Hypothyroidism

    Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped organ inside the neck, no longer produces adequate levels of hormones. Thyroid hormones are essential for many bodily functions including breathing, heart rate, and metabolism.

    Most cases of hypothyroidism require lifelong hormone replacement therapy.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, muscle aches
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Infection of the Salivary Duct (Sialadenitis)

    The ducts that create saliva can be infected by bacteria and is typically found after surgery in the mouth and in the elderly that take medications that slow saliva production.

    Prognosis is good if you get treatment early, very poor if not. 78% of people die if treatment is not started in time.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, chills, swelling on one side of the face, pain on one side of the face, swollen jaw
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  9. 9.Swelling Caused by Use of an Ace Inhibitor

    ACE Inhibitors are drugs used to prevent, treat or improve symptoms in conditions such as high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart failure and diabetes. In rare cases, these drugs can cause an allergic reaction that can be life-threatening.

    With proper treatment and removal of the drug, prognosis is good.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    shortness of breath, swollen face, trouble swallowing, swollen lips, swollen tongue
    Symptoms that never occur with swelling caused by use of an ace inhibitor:
    hives, red swollen bumps or patches with a pale center
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

Swelling on One Side of the Face Treatments and Relief

Most causes of swelling on the face are not serious and will resolve within a matter of days. There are a number of tricks you can try at home to address your symptoms. If the problem is especially severe or persists for some time, it is best to seek help from your doctor.

At-home treatments:

  • Don't scratch: While you may feel a strong urge to touch or scratch your area of swelling, this never helps and can introduce bacteria to the area that may cause an infection and worsen your symptoms.
  • Ice: Cold temperatures are an easy and natural way to relieve inflammation and itching on the face. Use an ice pack or ice wrapped in a washcloth and apply for several minutes at a time.
  • Antihistamine: Over-the-counter medications like Benadryl, Zyrtec, or Claritin counteract natural substances that cause itching and swelling and may relieve symptoms quickly.
  • Topical creams: There is a large number of anti-itch and antihistamine creams available at your local pharmacy that deliver medication directly to the area of concern.
  • Painkillers: NSAIDs like ibuprofen deal best with swelling and may also address discomfort.

Professional treatments:

  • Incision and drainage: If an infection is suspected as the underlying cause, a doctor may cut into the area of swelling to allow pus to be released.
  • Steroids: Medications like prednisone reduce swelling and redness from a wide variety of causes and are usually used for a short period of time.
  • Antibiotics: You will be given these if your doctor suspects a bacterial infection as the underlying cause for your swelling.
  • Imaging: A CT scan or MRI helps doctors learn more about the size and distribution of facial masses and are especially helpful if the cause of the mass is not immediately apparent.
  • Biopsy: In this procedure, a small piece of the mass is removed from the face by a needle or other tool and sent to the laboratory to be examined under a microscope.

Seek help without delay if you have:

  • Rapidly growing swelling
  • Trouble seeing, speaking, or breathing
  • High fevers
  • A history of cancer or of radiation to the face

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Swelling on One Side of the Face

  • Q.If you touch the swollen area, is there pain?
  • Q.Did you get hit in the head?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Were you hit or injured anywhere on your face? If so, where?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our swelling on one side of the face symptom checker to find out more.

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Swelling on One Side of the Face Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced swelling on one side of the face have also experienced:

    • 10% Pain on One Side of the Face
    • 4% Headache
    • 2% Sore Throat
  • People who have experienced swelling on one side of the face had symptoms persist for:

    • 42% Less Than a Week
    • 40% Less Than a Day
    • 10% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced swelling on one side of the face were most often matched with:

    • 40% Allergic Reaction (Not Life - Threatening)
    • 40% Skin Abscess
    • 20% Acute Salivary Duct Stone (Sialolithiasis)
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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Take a quiz to find out why you’re having swelling on one side of the face

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