Facial swelling is a common condition and can happen as a result of an injury, allergy, medication, infection or other medical conditions.
According to Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, Medical Director of CityMD in New York and a popular medical news correspondent, “Facial swelling occurs as the body’s response to an injury or insult. It’s our body’s reaction to protecting or fighting off an infection or exposure to an allergen or chemical or trauma.”
Dr. Nesheiwat explains that various cells in our body release chemicals in response to an injury to the face or elsewhere on the body. Inflammatory cells are activated by trauma or after surgery, which then causes the swelling.
In this article, we will learn how to reduce facial swelling caused by various conditions.
Swelling after sleep
It is quite common for many people to wake up with a puffy face or lips. This can result from too much salt in your diet, too much alcohol, dehydration, allergies, mold, dust, pollen, hormone changes, sleeping position and stress.
To reduce facial swelling in the morning, you may try the following:
- Upon waking up, wash your face with cool water.
- Use cold cucumbers on the areas that are swollen. Cucumbers contain antioxidants and a high water content, which helps fight toxins and moisturize the area under the eyes.
- Avoid salty foods and processed foods, especially before bed.
- Don’t sleep with your makeup on.
- Stay hydrated. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water all day long.
- Avoid excess alcohol.
- Don’t sleep on your belly.
Food, medications, insect or bee stings and even infections can cause allergic reactions that lead to facial swelling.
Facial swelling due to a serious allergic reaction can be dangerous and life-threatening as it sometimes includes the tongue, the pharynx or the airway. An EpiPen is used to immediately treat these reactions.
If you feel your lips, tongue or throat swelling or closing down, go to the hospital immediately. If the allergy comes in the form mild swelling or a rash with no other symptom, you can take an antihistamine and use a cold pack to reduce the swelling.
If the swelling gets worse or does not improve, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. Depending on the cause of the allergic reaction and swelling, your doctor may prescribe you steroids.
Sustaining an injury to your face can result in swelling in the area where the injury occurred. To reduce swelling due to an injury, the most practical thing to do is ice the injury as soon as possible. If the injury is accompanied by headaches, bruising or bleeding, you need to see a doctor immediately.
If your face is injured, lay flat when sleeping to avoid further irritation on the face. You can also try to keep your head slightly elevated. The same tips also apply when recovering from a surgery.
Anti-inflammatory medicine can help manage the pain and symptoms. Remember to always check with your doctor first before taking any medicine, as even over-the-counter medications can cause complications.
Unlike the other causes of inflammation mentioned above, swelling following surgery can take at least several days to heal (often five to seven days). When reducing facial swelling after surgery, you can use an ice or cold pack on your face. This is one of the best things you can do, and your doctor will probably give you specific instructions on how to do this. Generally, you can apply ice to the swollen area for 10-20 minutes at a time for at least three times a day.
The type and extent of any jaw or facial surgery you’re healing from will also dictate how long the swelling lasts.
Other treatments for facial swelling
Your doctor may recommend a whole bunch of treatments for swelling. Some of the more common ways to reduce facial swelling include:
- Getting more rest. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends sleep as an integral piece of physical health and healing.
- Increasing your water and fluid intake.
- Applying a cold compress to the swollen area.
- Applying a warm compress to promote the movement of fluid buildup. Be careful if you do so around the eye area since the skin here is more sensitive.
- Taking the appropriate allergy medication or antihistamine (over-the-counter medication or prescription).
- Taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication.
- Taking an antibiotic along with using at-home remedies for an abscess in a tooth.
For minor swelling, try applying cucumber slices or tea bags to the swollen area or massaging the area to stimulate blood flow.
How to avoid facial swelling
You can prevent your face from swelling by avoiding known allergens. Take the time to read ingredient labels when eating packaged food. When eating out, always tell your waiter about the things you’re allergic to so they can recommend food that is safe for you. If you have a known allergy that can cause anaphylaxis and you have been prescribed epinephrine medication, such as an EpiPen, be sure to carry it with you. This medication is used to counteract a severe allergic reaction and can prevent facial swelling.
If you had an allergic reaction to medication, avoid taking that medication again. Notify your healthcare provider of any reactions you’ve encountered after taking medication or eating certain foods
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