A Parent’s Guide to a Child’s Swollen Eyelid

When a child experiences a swollen eyelid the initial concern usually sounds something like this: “what caused this swelling?” In truth, eyelid swelling is a very common ailment among children and it can be caused by a few different, but treatable, issues. If your child is experiencing swelling that isn’t limited to the eye area and includes the cheeks, nose, or jaw, then you should make it a point to see a doctor as soon as possible. Read on to learn about some of the most common causes behind a swollen eyelid and how these conditions can be treated.


Just as we adults sometimes experience allergy symptoms on a windy spring or autumn day, our children can suffer from the same issue. Allergies can be triggered by virtually anything that your child may be sensitive to, such as pollen, dust, chemicals, detergents, and even certain foods. Allergic reactions that cause the eyelid(s) to swell are commonly caused by seasonal allergies. The technical name for this occurrence is “allergic conjunctivitis” and is really nothing to worry about because the symptoms tend to go away after the allergen/trigger is eliminated and avoided.

There are a few physical signs that you can use to determine whether allergies may be the cause of your child’s swollen eyelid. The first is puffiness of the lid and surrounding area. The white portion of the affected eye may turn blood shot and will produce excessive tears. The eye may also itch or become painful. An allergic reaction like this may also make your child’s eye(s) sensitive to light. Your child may also have thick yellow or green-colored discharge that is especially abundant after waking up in the morning.

If the reaction is particularly strong or does not go away after a few days then you may want to take your child to the doctor. Oral allergy medication such as Children’s Benadryl can help to reduce most of the symptoms, as can prescription-strength allergy eye drops. They are a bit oily in consistency than typical eye drops but can help to reduce symptoms very quickly.


There are several different types of conjunctivitis—one of which we have already talked about. The other most common forms of conjunctivitis when it comes to a swollen eyelid are bacterial and fungal conjunctivitis. Bacterial conjunctivitis is, as its name suggests, caused by bacteria entering the eye. The body’s immune response to this is to trigger inflammation which causes the eyelid(s) to become swollen, red, and warm. The eye may also start to produce excess tears, feel itchy or painful, and become sensitive to light. Your child may also complain that their eye feels “gritty” whenever they blink or close their eyes or that their vision is blurry. Bacterial conjunctivitis can usually be treated by administering antibiotic eye drops into your child’s eyes. The symptoms usually start to clear up after a few days but the treatment must continue for at least a week.

The most common viral form of conjunctivitis in children is called “pink eye.” It is easily recognized by the bright pink color on the portion of the eye that would normally be white. It is highly contagious. The majority of symptoms associated with viral pink eye are the same as the symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis, especially having a swollen eyelid accompanied by eye watering, pain, itchiness, and sensitivity. Viral pink eye has to run its course, which is about seven to ten days, during which time your child should try not to touch the affected eye and should wash their hands frequently to prevent spreading the virus to others.


A chalazion is a bump that forms in the eyelid. It is most often caused by a blocked oil gland that begins to retain oil and pus. The symptoms of a chalazion include a swollen eyelid that may have an obvious lump protruding from it. It may be painful when touched and the entire area may feel tender. Excessive tearing is common with this condition. For the most part a chalazion will heal on its own although it can take about four weeks for it to completely disappear. The healing process can be aided by applying warm compresses to the eye at regular intervals. This will help to soften the solidified oils inside the gland and help bring the blockage to the surface. If the chalazion fails to go away or if it continues to grow and worsen then it may be necessary for your doctor to surgically remove it.


Blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelash follicle, is a condition that can be very uncomfortable for a child because of the varying physical symptoms that accompany this condition. The main symptoms are swelling, redness, and pain on the eyelid. This area may also become scaly and crusted around the base of the eyelashes. Itching and burning sensations are also reported with blepharitis. Blepharitis is caused by bacteria entering the eyelash follicle. The culprit is usually one of the bacteria strains that are naturally present on the outside of the skin. Your child is more likely to suffer from blepharitis if he/she also has rosacea, allergies, or Seborrheic dermatitis.

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