Lip and eye swelling, along with hives, form as the result of an allergic reaction to a substance with which you have come into contact. For some, this swelling does not present a medical emergency, although it should be examined. For others, however, the swelling spreads to the throat and airways, blocking the person’s ability to breathe and presenting a medical emergency. When you know what causes angioedema, you and your doctor can find the cause of your lip and eye swelling.
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When your eyes swell and your lips swell and tingle, you are experiencing angioedema. When this happens, deeper layers just under the skin begin swelling as blood plasma oozes out of tiny blood vessels, according to the University of Notre Dame. You may experience both hives and angioedema as your body reacts to an allergen, or they develop separately, states the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The puffiness can last for up to two days – it may redevelop, with or without hives.
If your airways begin swelling, your ability to breathe is restricted, causing a medical emergency. An angioedema that develops in your throat usually develops with strong allergic reactions.
Chemicals in your foods or medications cause allergic reactions, leading to the release of histamine into your system. If your swelling and hives last less than six weeks, you are experiencing acute urticaria. Foods, including shellfish, nuts, eggs, milk or peanuts, internal illnesses and insect bites can contribute to the development of angioedema. Medications such as ibuprofen, sulfa drugs, penicillin, laxatives, ear drops and eye drops can also cause angioedema. Your swelling may come and go unexpectedly and repeatedly, making it difficult to find the cause.
When you visit your doctor, he will ask you questions as he isolates the probable cause for your lip and eye swelling. Unless you know what you ingested before the swelling began, prepare for a lengthy conversation. He may also prescribe over-the-counter or prescription antihistamine medication to bring the hives and swelling down. Antihistamines also help relieve any itching you may be feeling. When you use an antihistamine, use it exactly as prescribed.
Once you have isolated the cause of your lip and eye swelling, the only other reliable treatment method is to avoid the substance completely.
Treat your skin as gently as you can — don’t scratch the swelling or hives. Use a gentle cleanser instead of your usual soap. When you bathe or shower, use warm, not hot water. As you dry your skin, pat it. Stay away cosmetic products or ointments and stop using any cosmetics you have never used before.
Gently massage hydrocortisone cream onto your hives or swelling and allow the rash to come into contact with open air as much as you can.
Treat your angioedema as a medical emergency if your entire face has become swollen, you are having trouble breathing, home treatment is not working, your symptoms are worsening or if you are taking new medication. Call your doctor or go to the emergency department for medical attention.