Why did the area just above my eye become swollen (during a hot shower)?
March 17, 2007 1:19 PM   Subscribe

I woke up today with a slightly sore eyelid, then during a hot shower, the area above my eye swelled to a point my eye is halfway shut. What's going on?

I don't have any food allergies that I know of, and there was no trauma to my eye that I remember. When I woke up this morning, the area just above my eyelid was sore and very slightly swollen, but not red. During a hot shower, it swelled large very quickly. Since then I have applied ice and the swelling has not gotten worse. What are some possible explanations? Thanks!
posted by kingtaj to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you wear contacts? I sometimes get that sore eyelid thing too. It's from my contacts, though.
posted by wfc123 at 1:27 PM on March 17, 2007

Could be a bug bite, followed by the typical swelling reaction. Any swelling on a sensitive area like the eyelid feels much worse than a bite elsewhere on the skin.
posted by chrisamiller at 1:28 PM on March 17, 2007

You may have a stye; they're not exactly uncommon. I had one of these a couple of years ago, and (after Googling for info and remedies) I applied heat via a warm, damp cloth. It worked a charm, and drained in no time.

Of course, it may not be a stye, in which case: visit your doctor.
posted by hot soup girl at 1:37 PM on March 17, 2007

This has happened to me too, twice, and both times I couldn't really pinpoint a cause. The first time I kinda freaked out, 'cause it was bad enough that I couldn't see out of that eye for a day.

Personally, I chalked it up to my contacts maybe irritating the eye the day before, and new fabric softener or detergent that made it worse as I slept, because both times I had just put on new clean sheets.

It's kinda scary, I agree, and I dunno if it was the sheets that could have caused it really. I'm interested in hearing other people's thoughts on this as well.
posted by gemmy at 1:38 PM on March 17, 2007

It may just be a mild reaction to something you've rubbed into your eye. Try and think if you have handled something you wouldn't normally touch on a day to day basis, or if you have changed soap/washing up liquid etc.
posted by fire&wings at 1:39 PM on March 17, 2007

Response by poster: Yes I do wear contacts, but it doesn't seem like something in the eye because there is no redness or irritation of the eye itself. It's all very strange, especially the fact that heat and steam (from the shower) seemed to trigger the intense swelling.
posted by kingtaj at 1:56 PM on March 17, 2007

My first thought was the same as hot soup girl's, though with her caveat too that who knows what you have.
When I got them as a lad, my mum would wrap a clean cotton handkerchief around a wooden spoon, hold it in the steam of a boiling kettle, then test it on her forearm til it was hot but not scalding before applying it to the eye. The heat and pressure relieve the discomfort, and it draws the pus to a head quicker. The wooden spoon fits your eye socket nicely and stops you scalding your hand.
posted by Abiezer at 1:56 PM on March 17, 2007

I've had a small spider bite near the eye area and it swelled up incredibly to the point where I couldn't open the eye. I only found out about the bite when the swelling started going down and I saw a couple of small 'holes' (more cellular damage than the surrounding skin) consistent with a spiderbite.

I've also had a spider bite near the base of my left pinky finger and my entire hand swelled up to the size of a balloon.

I don't know if it helped, but I applied the strongest cortizone cream I could get my hands on (both areas started itching furiously when it started draining/healing). Perhaps take an antihistamine (like, for allergies/cold/flu) - if it's inflammation from an insect bite, it should help a little.
posted by porpoise at 1:56 PM on March 17, 2007

If it hurts when you blink it's probably a stye. Owie!
posted by brautigan at 2:17 PM on March 17, 2007

It's all very strange, especially the fact that heat and steam (from the shower) seemed to trigger the intense swelling.
Heat increases circulation and can cause more swelling in an acute injury. Obviously there is something happening to the eye. It could be something minor like a stye or a piece of debris. Good luck.
posted by LoriFLA at 2:24 PM on March 17, 2007

Try taking a Benadryl and see if it goes away - should visibly reduce within an hour if it's an allergic reaction.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:36 PM on March 17, 2007

I get swelling around my eyes when I take aspirin and ibuprofen, and my dad's had one eye swell from seasonal allergies before. While these are probably things you would have known about before, just wanted to mention that food allergies aren't the only kind you should consider. Anything you've ingested or smelled recently is completely fair game.
posted by crinklebat at 2:51 PM on March 17, 2007

Seasonal allergies used to cause my eyelid to swell up - taking allergy medicine and anti-histamine eyedrops would quell the swelling, along with warm compresses to the eyelid.

HOWEVER, you should see a doctor. I was told that some bacteria (nasty nasties) could cause eyelid swelling, so I was put on a course of antibiotics the first time it happened to me.
posted by muddgirl at 3:10 PM on March 17, 2007

I would guess you have a swollen lacrimal gland (Google images).

That it manifested through showering could be explained if the steam, the chlorine, or your shampoo caused tearing, but the outlet of your gland is blocked, and so the secreted but not delivered tears caused the gland to swell up. As I read these pictures, your lacrimal glands have a number of separate outlets into your eye, but I don't know if any given outlet drains the entire gland, so it may be possible that a single blocked outlet can cause the gland to swell.
posted by jamjam at 3:15 PM on March 17, 2007

I got spots of swelling around my forehead/ears after having my hair dyed (new hairdresser using different brand of dye - previously had never had an issue). Was mild swelling for first 24 hours, but then my whole head swelled like a beach ball - took a week to subside completely. Went to emergency and all they could for me was prescribe standard antihistimines, available over the counter. Any chance you have used a new hair product or make up?
posted by londonboots at 3:19 PM on March 17, 2007

In my 20s I had an eyelid swollen shut from a spiderbite. Bit me while I was asleep. I'm allergic, and it was not an attractive look AT ALL.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:51 PM on March 17, 2007

It if doesn't go away after a day or two, it could be pariorbital cellulitis, which will require a treatment of antibiotics and a possible hospital stay. I had it, not fun.
posted by solid-one-love at 5:09 PM on March 17, 2007

Try putting a thick slice of raw potato over your eye. old remedy but worked for me in less then an hour.
posted by hortense at 5:55 PM on March 17, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the helpful advice. At this point I think it's probably not a stye because the swollen area is spread out and very soft - there is no distinguishable "lump". After looking at pictures of the lacrimal gland, I think the swelling is precisely in that area. It's only on the right (outer) side of the lid, and the left side looks fine.

Hopefully I can rule out pariorbital cellulitis because I have no fever or malaise. There is also no pain when I move my eye.

I can't find any "bite marks", but I guess they could be very small. I just took benadryl so we'll see if the swelling subsides.

Here is a photo of my eye. :)
posted by kingtaj at 6:38 PM on March 17, 2007

Looks like my eye looked, only mine was completely swollen shut. I think it was a tiny spider so I didn't have any kind of bite mark either. It ached & kinda hurt though.

I remember that I woke up that way and didn't know what to do. I was late for school so I tried to wear sunglasses even though my eye was almost too big to fit the glasses over. I was hoping to wear them to avoid attention in class but that didn't work out. My teacher thought I was wearing sunglasses because I was drunk or something, so he ordered me to take them off. Sooo I had to do a big reveal in front of the class and everyone gasped because they didn't expect to see my eye swollen up like a grapefruit. It was that way for a day or two. Not comfortable.

Whatever it is, I hope yours goes away soon. :(
posted by miss lynnster at 8:24 PM on March 17, 2007

i get that reasonably frequently.

i put it down to me bashing myself rubbing my eyes in my sleep.(people do that without knowing, it's not because i'm an nut job..... it's a coincidence that i'm a nutjob)

a hot shower causing further swelling works with my theory because essentially it's inflammation and heat exacerbates inflammation.

that's my theory but i'm open to different ideas too.
hope you get to the bottom of it...

...currently eyes wide open....
posted by taff at 4:20 AM on March 18, 2007

I'm glad I found this. I have the same thing. Actually I've had it before but I never knew what to do, or what it was. There's some great advice here! I wear contacts too, so it might just be a drawback of lense use...
posted by ob at 11:30 AM on March 24, 2007

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