If you've ever looked in the mirror and wondered why your face looked puffier than usual, then you're one of many people who has experienced facial bloating. Puffy face, sometimes referred to as facial edema, may not only feel uncomfortable, but may also be a sign of additional health conditions.
To get to the root cause of your facial bloating, document your symptoms and consult a doctor.
Causes of a Puffy Face
The MedlinePlus website states that an allergic reaction or food intolerance, injury or trauma to the face, conjunctivitis, sinusitis, obesity and a stye with swelling around the infected eye are all causes of a bloated face. Other causes include negative reactions to medications or medical procedures, salivary gland disorders or tooth abscesses.
Use the following questions to help determine the cause of your facial bloating:
- How long has your puffy face lasted?
- When did it start?
- What makes it worse or better?
- Have you been exposed to an allergen?
- What medications are you taking?
- Did you injure your face?
- Have you had a medical procedure done recently?
- What other symptoms are you experiencing (e.g., a rash, sneezing, eye redness, fever)?
MedlinePlus suggests consulting a doctor if the swelling is severe, sudden or painful, if you have difficulty breathing or if your swelling lasts a while or worsens. If you experience fever, tenderness, or redness, these are signs of infection, and you should see a medical professional.
Know the Remedies
Mayo Clinic notes that a cool compress can reduce a swollen face and eyes. Wet a clean washcloth with cool water. While upright, apply the damp washcloth to your face for a few minutes using light pressure. Alternatively, rinse your face with cool water and keep your showers cool as well. Hot showers can increase swelling.
Additional remedies you can try include:
Reducing Salt Intake: Harvard Health Publishing points out that excessive sodium intake is linked to the buildup of excess fluids in the body and bloating. Lessening your sodium intake can reduce facial edema.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, based on the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the vast majority of adults eat more sodium than they should — an average of more than 3,400 milligrams each day. The Dietary Guidelines recommends that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating pattern.
Changing Your Sleep Habits: According to Mayo Clinic, sleeping with your head slightly raised can reduce facial swelling. Try adding an extra pillow or propping up the head of your mattress. This helps prevent fluid from accumulating around your face as you sleep. If you find your face is most swollen in the morning, this could be a good home remedy to your facial bloating.
Reducing Alcohol Intake: Bloating is one of the most common effects of drinking alcohol. Alcohol.org suggests that alcohol can lead to irritation of your gastrointestinal tract, which can cause bloating. Additionally, alcohol dehydrates your body. When you're dehydrated, your body tries to hold onto water for longer, causing your face to look puffy.
Taking a Diuretic: The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that diuretics, also called water pills, help flush salt and extra fluid out of your body through your urine. Consult a doctor before using diuretics to treat facial bloating, as he or she will be able to address the root cause of your facial bloating most accurately.
- American Academy of Family Physicians: "Edema"
- Mayo Clinic:"Bags Under Eyes"
- MedlinePlus: "Facial Swelling"
- Alcohol.org: " Treating the Effects of Alcoholic Gastritis"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Heart Failure and Salt: The Great Debate"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Get the Facts: Sodium and the Dietary Guidelines"