Symptoms A-Z

Swollen Face Symptoms, Causes & Common Questions

The most common causes of facial swelling arise from a dental or skin infection, or an allergic reaction which can also cause hives, wheezing, and vomiting. Other causes of face swelling include dehydration, hormonal imbalance, or physical trauma to the face. Read below for more causes, related symptoms, and how to reduce swelling in the face.

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Is Your Face Puffy or Swollen? Common Symptoms Explained:

Swelling to the face has many different causes, ranging from dehydration to a life threatening allergic reaction. Infections in the eyes, mouth, or salivary glands are other common causes of facial swelling. Allergic reactions that cause facial swelling may be accompanied by hives, wheezing, or difficulty breathing. While some minor causes of facial swelling can be managed at home, infectious or allergic causes of facial swelling require evaluation and treatment by a doctor. If you are having significant facial swelling or trouble breathing, seek emergency medical attention.

Common accompanying symptoms of a swollen face

If you're experiencing a swollen face, it is also likely to experience:

What Causes Facial Swelling?

Two common causes of facial swelling are infections or allergic reactions. Typically, an infection will cause asymmetric facial swelling. Allergic reactions can also cause facial swelling, and may be accompanied by hives, wheezing, difficulty breathing, or vomiting.

Infection

Infectious causes of a swollen face may be due to the following:

  • Dental or mouth infection: Infections in the teeth, gums, or behind the tonsils can all cause swelling in face. Typically, swelling from an infection in one of these locations will be one-sided or asymmetric.
  • Salivary gland infection: Infection in one of the glands that produces saliva can also cause swelling, typically in the lower half of the face. Typically, swelling from an infection in a glad will be one-sided or asymmetric.
  • Skin infection: Infection of the skin on the face can cause redness and swelling. This type of infection could involve one part of the face or the entire face.
  • Eye infection: Bacterial or viral eye infections can cause swelling to one eyelid or both eyelids and the area of the face surrounding the eyes.

Allergies

Your face may swell due to different allergies you may or may not be aware of.

  • Food allergy: Allergic reactions to food can present with swelling to the face, lips, or tongue. The swelling may be accompanied by hives, wheezing or respiratory distress, vomiting or diarrhea. If you are concerned about an allergic reaction, seek emergency medical attention.
  • Medication allergy: Allergic reactions to medications can present with swelling to face, lips, or tongue. The swelling may be accompanied by hives, wheezing or respiratory distress, vomiting, or diarrhea. Sometimes people develop allergic reactions to medications they have been taking for a long time. If you are concerned about an allergic reaction, seek emergency medical attention.
  • Environmental allergies: Allergic reactions to pollen, dust, or other environmental factors can cause facial swelling along with running nose, sneezing, and itchy watery eyes. These allergies are typically not life threatening. However, if you are having trouble breathing, seek emergency medical attention.

Other causes

Other various causes of facial swelling may include the following.

  • Pregnancy: Edema (swelling) is common in pregnancy. Many pregnant women experience swelling in the hands, feet, ankles, and legs.
  • Dehydration: In the event of severe dehydration, the tissues of the face may retain water, leading to swelling or puffiness.
  • Medical Condition: Some medical conditions, particularly hormonal imbalances, can cause facial swelling. Some other possible associated symptoms include fatigue, heat intolerance, dry skin, weight gain, and constipation.
  • Inflammation: Trauma to the face or head can cause inflammation and swelling. Additionally, lack of sleep or consuming a lot of alcohol can make the face look puffy or swollen.

9 Possible Swollen Face Conditions

The list below shows results from the use of our quiz by Buoy users who experienced swollen face. This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

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.

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

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.

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

Skin abscess

A skin abscess is a large pocket of pus that has formed just beneath the skin. It is caused by bacteria getting under the skin, usually through a small cut or scratch, and beginning to multiply. The body fights the invasion with white blood cells, which kill some of the infected tissue but form pus within the cavity that remains.

Symptoms include a large, red, swollen, painful lump of pus anywhere on the body beneath the skin. There may be fever, chills, and body aches from the infection.

If not treated, there is the risk of an abscess enlarging, spreading, and causing serious illness.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination.

A small abscess may heal on its own, through the body's immune system. But some will need to be drained or lanced in a medical provider's office so that the pus can be cleaned out. Antibiotics are usually prescribed.

Keeping the skin clean, and using only clean clothes and towels, will help to make sure that the abscess does not recur.

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

Cellulitis

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the deep layers of the skin. It can appear anywhere on the body but is most common on the feet, lower legs, and face.

The condition can develop if Staphylococcus bacteria enter broken skin through a cut, scrape, or existing skin infection such as impetigo or eczema.

Most susceptible are those with a weakened immune system, as from corticosteroids or chemotherapy, or with impaired circulation from diabetes or any vascular disease.

Symptoms arise somewhat gradually and include sore, reddened skin.

If not treated, the infection can become severe, form pus, and destroy the tissue around it. In rare cases, the infection can cause blood poisoning or meningitis.

Symptom of severe pain, fever, cold sweats, and fast heartbeat should be seen immediately by a medical provider.

Diagnosis is made through physical examination.

Treatment consists of antibiotics, keeping the wound clean, and sometimes surgery to remove any dead tissue. Cellulitis often recurs, so it is important to treat any underlying conditions and improve the immune system with rest and good nutrition.

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

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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.

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

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism, or "underactive thyroid," means that the thyroid gland in the neck does not produce enough of its hormones. This causes a slowing of the body's metabolism.

The condition can occur due to autoimmune disease; any surgery or radiation treatment to the thyroid gland; some medications; pregnancy; or consuming too much or too little iodine. It is often found among older women with a family history of the disease.

Common symptoms include fatigue, constantly feeling cold, weight gain, slow heart rate, and depression. If left untreated, these and other symptoms can worsen until they lead to very low blood pressure and body temperature, and even coma.

Diagnosis is made through a simple blood test.

Hypothyroidism is easily managed with daily oral medication. The patient usually starts feeling better after a couple of weeks and may even lose some extra weight. It's important for the patient to be monitored by a doctor and have routine blood testing so that the medication can be kept at the correct levels.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: fatigue, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, muscle aches

Urgency: Primary care doctor

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.

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

Angioedema

Angioedema is a condition which can cause swelling and puffiness of the face, mouth, tongue, hand or genitals. It is often related to an allergic reaction to food, medicines or insect bites.

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: nausea or vomiting, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps), diarrhea, swollen face, hand swelling

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

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.

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

How to Reduce Swelling in the Face

Most causes of facial swelling symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor. If facial swelling is due to minor trauma to the face or dehydration it can be managed at home with ice, hydration, and rest. However, the infectious and allergic causes of facial swelling should be evaluated by a physician, who may recommend medications or further testing to manage the cause of facial swelling.

When a swollen face is an emergency

Seek emergency treatment if:

  • You have significant swelling to the face, lips, tongue
  • You also have hives and are wheezing, vomiting, or having difficulty breathing

At-home treatments for a swollen face

You can try the following remedies to address your facial swelling at home.

  • Ice: If the swelling is due to trauma or inflammation, place ice packs on the face may help to reduce the swelling.
  • Hydration: A swollen or puffy face might be a sign of severe dehydration. Hydrating with water may help.
  • Time: If the swelling is due to lack of sleep or too much alcohol, it may take time and rest for the swelling to go down.

Medical treatments for a swollen face

The following treatments may be recommended by your physician.

  • Antibiotics: A doctor may recommend antibiotics is a bacterial infection is the cause of facial swelling.
  • Dental referral: If a dental infection is the cause of the swelling, a doctor may refer you to a dentist.
  • Drainage: If an infection in the mouth is the cause of the swelling, it is possible that a doctor will need to drain the infection using a needle.
  • Blood tests: If a doctor suspects a medical condition such as a hormone imbalance, they may order blood tests of hormone levels to further assess.
  • Pregnancy test: If you have had a missed period, a doctor may order a pregnancy test.
  • Intravenous medication: In the event of facial swelling that is due to a possible allergic reaction, a doctor will likely administer a medication through an IV as soon as possible to reverse the allergic reaction process.

FAQs About Swollen Face

Here are some frequently asked questions about swollen face.

Why is my face swollen in the morning?

There are multiple factors that can contribute to facial swelling or puffiness, including dehydration or hormonal fluctuations. Facial swelling may be a sign of something more serious, including infection or allergic reaction. Try hydrating, getting more sleep, or putting ice or cool compresses on the face to reduce facial swelling in the morning.

Why is my face swollen after drinking?

Facial swelling after a night of drinking is likely largely due to dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which leads to dehydration. Dehydrated skin may actually retain water, causing facial swelling. Try alternating alcoholic drinks with water to prevent morning puffiness. Keep in mind, facial swelling has many causes, and persistent facial swelling could be a sign of something more serious. Other causes of facial swelling include infections, allergic reactions, or facial trauma.

Can a swollen face be a sign of pregnancy?

Facial swelling, as well as swelling in the hands, feet, or ankles can all be signs of pregnancy. Swelling, or edema, is a very common symptom experienced by women during the course of pregnancy. Typically, edema of the hands, feet, and ankles increases during pregnancy. However facial edema can be common earlier in pregnancy. However facial swelling can be a sign of many other things, including inflammation, dehydration, infections, allergic reactions or facial trauma.

Can sunburn cause a swollen face?

A sunburn can lead to facial pain, swelling, or blistering. However there are many other causes of facial swelling, including infections, facial trauma, or allergic reactions. Cool compresses may relieve some pain and swelling from a sunburn. If you have significant pain, swelling, or blistering from a burn, seek medical attention.

Why is one side of my face swollen?

Swelling to one side of the face has many possible causes, including infections, trauma, or tumors. Infections in the mouth or salivary glands may cause swelling to one side of the lower face. Infection in the eye could cause swelling on one side of the face near the eye. Infections that cause facial swelling may need to be treated by a doctor.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Swollen Face

To diagnose this condition, your doctor would likely ask the following questions:

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

The above questions are also covered by our A.I. Health Assistant.

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions

Take a quiz to find out what might be causing your swollen face

Swollen Face Symptom Checker Statistics

People who have experienced swollen face have also experienced:

  • 4% Headache
  • 3% Face Pain
  • 3% Facial Redness

People who have experienced swollen face were most often matched with:

  • 40% Allergic Reaction (Not Life-Threatening)
  • 40% Skin Abscess
  • 20% Acute Salivary Duct Stone (Sialolithiasis)

People who have experienced swollen face had symptoms persist for:

  • 42% Less than a week
  • 40% Less than a day
  • 10% Over a month

Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Swollen Face Symptom Checker

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Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.