What to do about VERY swollen eyelids during period?
November 26, 2012 10:50 AM   Subscribe

YANMD Filter: What to do about VERY swollen eyelids during menstruation?

Like clockwork (or a monthly calendar), my eyelids-- bottom and/or top-- swell up during my period. It's actually really bad, ranging from "GASP! What's wrong with you!?" bad to mild, not worth commenting gargoylification.

My eyes aren't red or irritated or anything. I do have allergies, but this is completely different. This only started happening recently, in my late-ish 20s. Interneting reveals that other women have this too, but I can't seem to find causes or cures/treatments. Allergy medicine and eyedrops do not work.
posted by lalalana to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
Cold, wet tea bags should help the swelling go down.

As for why this happens? I'm baffled.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:57 AM on November 26, 2012

Cold washcloths and green tea bags are what I use after my eyes swell (but after crying).
posted by discopolo at 10:58 AM on November 26, 2012

I had this happen, too, for a while. When did this start? Were you overworked or had you started/stopped birth control of any kind at the time?
posted by Atrahasis at 10:59 AM on November 26, 2012

Response by poster: @ Ruthless Bunny and discopolo: Yeah, I have tried (and will continue to try) both those things. They help, but not a lot. It seems to be internal (hormonal, etc) and not topical (like crying), so the same techniques don't seem to have same impact, I guess?

@ Atrahasis: It started maybe three years ago? I thought it was some kind of infection, then allergies, then figured out the calendar sync-up. It did some around a time of stress (cross country move, new grad school, other life changes) and ill health (appendicitis, swine flu, and mono within the span of a year). But things have settled down now, and they still swell up!
posted by lalalana at 11:09 AM on November 26, 2012

My standard answer to all things menstruation-related is birth control pill. Changed my life.
posted by radioamy at 11:13 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

It could be water retention. Do you eat salty stuff when you get your period? That might be contributing.

Discuss with a doctor at your next visit.

And orange pekoe tea bags, for heaven's sake NOT Red Zinger! (Owie! Owie! Owie!)

There's something in tanin that calms swelling.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:20 AM on November 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

I keep a couple of metal tablespoons in my freezer, and hold the backs of them against my closed eyes when I have puffy lids for whatever reason. (I tolerate cold pretty well -- if you don't, maybe wrap them in damp paper towels.) Helps a lot. Sorry I don't have any advice re: why it's happening.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 11:31 AM on November 26, 2012

Are you taking any pain relievers for cramps? I used to get puffy eyes from aspirin, especially if I took it every 4 hours. Some people get this from ibuprofen.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 11:39 AM on November 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

When I got mysterious swelling eyelids, my doctor recommended hot compresses, not cold ones.

It shouldn't be boiling, but as hot as your water heater can produce, soaked into a washcloth and applied until the washcloth is cool. I was doing it 3x a day and it helped a minor amount.
posted by muddgirl at 11:46 AM on November 26, 2012

I also recommend compresses - hot ones seem to work for me if it's not crying-related, whereas cold works better for crying-induced puffiness. It could be some form of localized fluid retention, so try to avoid salty foods and drink more water, and maybe ask your doctor if trying a mild diuretic would be ok. There are some over-the-counter ones that include pain relievers that are marketed specifically for periods (Pamprin, I think) that might work. If you can't get to the doctor right away, you can ask the pharmacist about it.
posted by bedhead at 12:06 PM on November 26, 2012

Lalalana, check your MeMail.
posted by Atrahasis at 1:14 PM on November 26, 2012

Weirdly, in another question today about face swelling, a possible answer is mentioned. It sounds like there's a condition called hereditary angioedema that can cause face swelling and can be connected to/brought on by having your period. Might be worth reading and see if this sounds like it fits.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:21 PM on November 26, 2012

I get puffy eyes from ibuprofen so, yeah, painkillers?

It does sound like water retention, though what do I know. I have heard that drinking a sports drink with electrolytes can charm the fluid away from the eye area. Or that eating a salad of watery vegetables like cucumbers could soak up some of the water for you. Or that laying off the sodium is advisable. Or that green tea could be a useful diuretic.

I personally would not apply tea bags or anything else to your eyes because you don't know what's causing the puffiness and you could irritate the skin or provoke an allergy if that's what this is. I think instead, you should soak cotton wool disks in plain water, refrigerate them overnight, and first thing in the morning, lie with your head elevated with the cold cotton wool over your eyes for ten minutes. Then, get up and move around; this would be a good time to do your workout.

Heavy eye creams could increase puffiness, but, so could any chemical that doesn't agree with you. I do not like eye gels, because I think they are more drying than not with their alcohol content. But I guess you could try some refrigerated eye gel, maybe with caffeine (not sure your skin can drink coffee on your behalf but caffeine was recommended somewhere and I can't remember why).

If any of that works, it might be water retention.
posted by tel3path at 4:07 PM on November 26, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you all! I tried both hot and cold compresses and tried to drink a ton of water and avoid spices foods last night, and am better today, but it probably would have self-resolved at this point anyway. Might be time to check-in with a doctor...
posted by lalalana at 4:24 AM on November 27, 2012

I sometimes get swollen eyelids, although not menstruation-related. My solution is a damp washcloth microwaved for 30 seconds or so to be a warm compress (obviously check how hot it is before putting on your eyes), followed up by rinsing my eyelids with a bit of baby shampoo lather.
posted by eurypteris at 12:02 PM on November 27, 2012

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