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    Facial swelling

    Puffy face; Swelling of the face; Moon face; Facial edema

    Facial swelling is the buildup of fluid in the tissues of the face. Swelling may also affect the neck and upper arms.


    If the facial swelling is mild, it may be hard to detect. To help the health care provider in diagnosing the cause, let the health care provider know the following:

    • Pain, and where it hurts
    • How long the swelling has lasted
    • What makes it better or worse
    • If you have other symptoms


    • Allergic reaction (such as allergic rhinitis, hay fever, or a bee sting)
    • Angioedema
    • Blood transfusion reaction
    • Cellulitis
    • Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye)
    • Drug reactions, including those due to aspirin, penicillin, sulfa, glucocorticoids, and others
    • Head, nose, or jaw surgery
    • Injury or trauma to the face (such as a burn)
    • Malnutrition (when severe)
    • Obesity
    • Salivary gland disorders
    • Sinusitis
    • Stye with swelling around the infected eye
    • Tooth abscess

    Home Care

    Apply cold compresses to reduce swelling from an injury. Raise the head of the bed (or use extra pillows) to help reduce facial swelling.

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you have:

    • Sudden, painful, or severe facial swelling
    • Facial swelling that lasts a while, particularly if it is getting worse over time
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Fever, tenderness, or redness, which suggests infection

    What to Expect at Your Office Visit

    Emergency treatment is needed if facial swelling is caused by burns or if you have breathing problems.

    The health careprovider will ask about your medical and personal history. This helpsdetermine treatment or if any medical tests are needed. Questions may include:

    • How long has the facial swelling lasted?
    • When did it begin?
    • What makes it worse?
    • What makes it better?
    • Have you come into contact with something you might be allergic to?
    • What medicines are you taking?
    • Didyou recently injured your face?
    • Didyou havea medical test or surgery recently?
    • What other symptoms do you have? For example: facial pain,sneezing,difficulty breathing,hives or rash, eye redness, fever.


    Amsterdam JT. Oral medicine. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2009:chap 68.

    Habif TP. Urticaria and angioedema. In: Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2009:chap 6.

    Sharma R, Brunette DD. Ophthalmology. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA:Elsevier Mosby; 2009:chap 69.

    Pfaff JA, Moore GP. Otolaryngology. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al., eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2009:chap 70.


    • Edema, central on the fa...


      • Edema, central on the fa...


      A Closer Look

        Self Care

          Tests for Facial swelling

            Review Date: 1/22/2013

            Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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