Skip to main content
Update Location

My Location

Update your location to show providers, locations, and services closest to you.

Enter a zip code
Or
Select a campus/region

Facial swelling

Definition

Facial swelling is the buildup of fluid in the tissues of the face. Swelling may also affect the neck and upper arms.

Alternative Names

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

Considerations

If the facial swelling is mild, it may be hard to detect. Let the health care provider know the following:

  • Pain and where it hurts
  • How long the swelling has lasted
  • What makes it better or worse
  • If you have other symptoms

Causes

Causes of facial swelling may include:

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

Contact your provider if you have:

  • Sudden, painful, or severe facial swelling
  • Facial swelling that lasts a while, particularly if it is getting worse over time
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever, tenderness, or redness, which suggests infection

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Emergency treatment is needed if facial swelling is caused by burns or if you have breathing problems.

The provider will ask about your medical and personal history. This helps determine treatment or if any medical tests are needed. Questions may include:

  • How long has the facial swelling lasted?
  • When did it begin?
  • What makes it worse?
  • What makes it better?
  • Have you come into contact with something you might be allergic to?
  • What medicines are you taking?
  • Did you recently injure your face?
  • Did you have a medical test or surgery recently?
  • What other symptoms do you have? For example: facial pain, sneezing, difficulty breathing, hives or rash, eye redness, fever.

Gallery

Edema - central on the face
This person has noticeable swelling (edema) of the face.

References

Dinulos JGH. Urticaria, angioedema and pruritus. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide in Diagnosis and Therapy. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 6.

Guluma K, Lee JE. Ophthalmology. In: Walls RM, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 57.

Matlock AG, Pfaff JA. Otolaryngology. In: Walls RM, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 58.

Pedigo RA. Oral medicine. In: Walls RM, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2023:chap 56.

Last reviewed February 2, 2023 by Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team..

Related specialties