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Edema of the face

Related terms:  Face swelling, facial swelling, facial edema, puffy face, neck lymphedema, lymphedema of the face, moon face, 

Important:  If you have any type of facial and/or neck edema that interferes with your ability to breathe, you must go quickly to your local emergency room or urgent care center.


Diagnosis, like treatment will focus on the causative factor.  Included in the work up will  a history and physical examination. Blood tests and cultures may be indicated. For long term facial edema radiological tests may be ordered.


The most common cause of facial swelling is a reaction to a specific allergen (angioedema).  Other causes include sinusitis, conjunctivitis (eye),  facial injury or trauma (including sunbuirn), surgeries, infections (cellulitis, erysipelas, impetigo)  stye (hordeolum - eye), drugs (allergic reaction), insect bites and dental abscesses, obesity and conjunctivitis. 

Special Considerations:

If there are no external signs or reasons for the facial edema, an internal serious medical condition may be indicated.  Special concerns requiring immediate intervention include unknown painless facial swelling, bloody nasal discharge, orbital cellulitis and paratoid swelling with palsey. (1)

If your swelling does not go away you may want to consider a diagnoses of lymphedema.  Mostly commonly facial lymphedema is caused by removal of neck and/or facial lymph nodes for biopsy, radiation treatment for cancer, trauma injuries that include damage to the lymph system. 


The most serious and life threatening complication can be anaphylatcic shock. Other complications if caused by infection can be spreading of the infection into other body areas or even sepsis.


As with most cases of edema, treatment will focus on the causative factor.  Home treatment may include cold packs to the affected area.  Medication to relieve allergic reactions, antibiotics in situations of infections, subsequent treatment of injuries.


Facial swelling

Alternative Names   

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


Facial swelling is the build-up of fluid in the face. Swelling may also affect the neck and upper arms.


If the facial swelling is mild, it may be hard to detect. To assist the health care provider in diagnosing the cause, it is important to note the following:

Causes    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    

You should call your health care provider if you have:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit    

If facial swelling is caused by burns, or respiratory distress is present, emergency measures must be taken first. Then the medical history will be obtained and a physical examination performed.

Medical history questions documenting facial swelling in detail may include the following:

Diagnostic tests will be determined by other accompanying symptoms and results of the physical examination.

Update Date: 1/22/2007


External Links


Edema of the face


Causes of Face Swelling


Facial Edema

University of Maryland Medicine


Persistent Facial Edema

David Elpern MD

March 21, 2004


Facial Edema


Symptom: Face swelling


Solid facial edema: treatment failure with oral isotretinoin monotherapy and combination oral isotretinoin and oral steroid therapy


Hypogammaglobulinemia with Facial Edema


A 2-Year-Old Boy With Emesis and Facial Edema Facial Swelling


Causes of Face Swelling, Facial Swelling, Moon Face, Puffy Face, Facial Edema


Facial Swelling 

Facial swelling usually develops after an injury, cut, bite, sting, or a dental abscess. However, it may also occur without any known cause. There is usually a localized area of redness, swelling, sometimes heat, and pain. There can sometimes be throbbing pain and a fever.

An infected tooth with an abscess (collection of pus) is the most common reason for facial swelling (cellulitis) seen in our office. This happens when the bacterial infection causing deep cavities penetrates through the tooth, out through the root, into the bone, and then into the surrounding facial tissues. Facial swelling or cellulitis is a very serious situation. Most often, we can not do any dental treatment until the cellulitis is resolved because the local anesthetic used to numb the teeth will not work due to the change in body chemistry. Therefore, we recommend that you see your pediatrician or emergency room physician first in order to receive the proper type of and dosage of antibiotics. Sometimes in order for the antibiotics to be effective, an I.V. antibiotic has to be administered by the medical doctor because oral administration of the antibiotic is not effective and the cellulitis will continue to get worse.

Discovery Pediatric Dentistry


Face Swelling (edema) in diabetes


Hilotherm Efficacy in Controlling Postoperative Facial Edema in Patients Treated for Maxillomandibular Malformations. Nov 2011


Medical Encyclopedia

Lymph tissue in the head and neck.

Lymph tissue in the head and neck.

Lymph nodes play an important part in the body's defense against infection. Swelling might occur even if the infection is trivial or not apparent.

Update Date: 5/20/1999




Diagnostic Images

Edema, central on the face

Google Images


See also:

Comparison of Edema versus Lymphedema

Edema and Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Edema and Deep Venous Thrombosis

Edema and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

Edema and Venous Pooling

Edema and Angioedema

Edema of the Neck

Edema and Nephrotic Syndrome

Edema and Thrombophlebitis

Edema and Diabetes

Edema and Congestive Heart Failure


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