Why Allergies Can Cause Swollen Eyelids

Allergies can be a nuisance, and when it comes to swollen eyelids, they can be downright uncomfortable and embarrassing. Allergies are hypersensitive reactions of the immune system to normally harmless substances in the environment. 

And when certain allergenic substances like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, or mold spores enter the body through the airways or skin, the immune system responds aggressively in an attempt to eliminate them.

How Allergies Cause Swollen Eyelids

The skin around the eyes is thin and sensitive, making it more prone to swelling. When you are exposed to an allergen, your immune system produces antibodies that trigger the release of histamine. Histamine is a chemical that causes inflammation, and it can affect the skin around the eyes, causing swelling.

Allergies can cause different types of eyelid swelling, including:

  • Periorbital edema: One of the most common types of eyelid swelling associated with allergies, it refers to swelling around the eye, but not the eye itself. Periorbital edema can make your eyes appear puffy and tired, and it may be accompanied by redness and itching.
  • Conjunctivitis: Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is a condition where the conjunctiva, the clear tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye, becomes inflamed. This can cause eyelid swelling, as well as redness, itching and discharge.
  • Blepharitis: A condition inflaming the eyelids, also causing redness, itching and swelling. It can be caused by a bacterial infection or an allergic reaction, and it can affect the edges of the eyelids as well as the skin around the eyes.

Managing Swollen Eyelids

Identifying and avoiding the allergens that trigger your symptoms combine as an important first step to managing swollen eyelids. Common allergens include pollen, dust mites, pet dander and certain foods. If you cannot avoid your allergen, you can take steps to reduce your exposure to it, such as wearing sunglasses and keeping your home clean and dust-free.

Over-the-counter antihistamine medications can also help reduce the inflammation and swelling caused by allergies. These medications work by blocking the action of histamine. They’re available in different forms, such as pills, eye drops and nasal sprays. If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications, such as corticosteroids or immunomodulators.

In addition to medication, several home remedies can help alleviate swollen eyelids caused by allergies. These include:

  • Applying a cold compress: A cold compress can help reduce inflammation and swelling. You can use a clean washcloth soaked in cold water or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel.
  • Using tea bags: Tea bags contain tannins, which can help reduce swelling and redness. Place a cold, damp tea bag over each eye for 10–15 minutes.
  • Avoiding rubbing your eyes: Rubbing your eyes can make the swelling and irritation worse. Instead, use a clean tissue to gently wipe away any discharge.
  • Keeping your eyes clean: Wash your face and eyelids with a mild soap or cleanser to remove any allergens that may be on your skin.

Live Allergy Free and See Clearly

Swollen eyelids can be a bothersome symptom of allergies. The immune system’s response to allergens causes inflammation, which can affect the skin around the eyes. By identifying and avoiding your allergen, taking medication and using home remedies, you can manage and reduce your discomfort. 

If your symptoms persist or worsen, an allergy specialist can help you create a plan of action. Let Complete Eye Care of Medina facilitate and refer you to the care you and your eyes need to see clearly and live an allergy-free life. Contact us today to learn more.