Facial swelling can occur in some individuals, but it is mostly mild which is why it is difficult to detect or severe in which the treatment depends on the underlying cause. Edema or swelling involves the build-up or accumulation of fluid in the tissues.
Since severe facial swelling might be an indication of a serious condition such as tooth abscess or a drug reaction, an accurate diagnosis must be given by the doctor. Alleviating a minor case of facial swelling is not difficult, but requires patience before any results are evident.
Steps in managing facial swelling
- Elevate or raise the head above the level of the heart. This will allow the fluid to drain out from the facial tissues. The individual should stand or sit upright or raise the head using extra cushions or pillows while lying down.
- Apply a cold compress such as an ice pack on the affected area. In case the swelling is localized such as in blunt impact injuries or an insect sting such as a bee, make sure that the ice pack is covered with a clean towel or cloth and applied on the affected area for 20 minutes at a time. If cold therapy is started early, the better the outcome will be.
- Cover the affected area with facial swelling lightly using an elastic bandage such as an ACE bandage. Just be careful not to apply compression without disrupting the normal circulation. Avoid wrapping an elastic bandage around the neck. You can also provide compression to the affected area by using pressure on the facial swelling or injury.
- You can provide the individual with anti-inflammatory medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen sodium and ibuprofen. These medications help minimize the inflammation, pain and swelling due to disease or injury. Always follow the dosage instructions on the packaging or instructions given by the doctor.
- You can apply a hydrocortisone cream if there is localized facial swelling due to an allergic reaction such as contact dermatitis or a bee sting. This medication is readily available over-the-counter and can minimize the itchiness, redness and swelling.
- An oral antihistamine can be used to relieve the facial swelling due to an allergic reaction. It can also be used to minimize the annoying itchiness and swelling.
Important considerations to bear in mind
Facial swelling might indicate the presence of angioedema, sinusitis, cellulitis, drug reactions as well as other conditions. A doctor must be consulted if the facial swelling is severe, extended or accompanied by other symptoms.
Individuals who have diabetes, Raynaud’s disease or sensitivity to cold should avoid using ice packs to minimize the facial swelling. If there is excess salt in the diet, facial swelling can occur. In such cases, you have to reduce the amount of salty foods in the diet.