The best way to reduce swelling on a person’s face can depend on the cause. Remedies include applying ice, avoiding allergens, and using over-the-counter (OTC) medications for infections. Sometimes, a person may need medical treatment.

This article discusses how to reduce facial swelling from various causes.

Allergies occur when the immune system perceives a harmless substance as a potential threat and reacts against it.

Allergies can cause angioedema.

Angioedema is a buildup of fluids under the skin that causes swelling. When angioedema happens, it often occurs around the eyes, face, and lips.

A person should see a doctor if they experience this swelling for the first time, or if it feels uncomfortable.

A person should seek immediate medical assistance if swelling makes breathing difficult or a substantial portion of the body becomes swollen. Healthcare professionals consider angioedema of the throat to be a medical emergency.

To prevent angioedema, a person should avoid their known triggers.

Angioedema may be the result of several different allergens or exposures, including:

  • food
  • water
  • pet dander
  • pollen
  • latex
  • hot or cold temperatures
  • medications
  • insect bites

How to reduce swelling

If an allergic reaction occurs and causes angioedema, a person can take oral antihistamines. They should also carry an epinephrine auto-injector for any severe reactions. After using an epinephrine auto-injector, a person should still seek emergency medical attention.

If a person experiences angioedema of the throat, this is considered a medical emergency and requires emergency medical care.

Sinusitis is the inflammation of the sinuses, and the most common cause is infection.

The sinuses produce extra mucus, resulting in a stuffy and runny nose, facial swelling, and discomfort.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, up to 70% of those with acute sinusitis recover without prescribed medication.

How to reduce the swelling

To reduce the swelling, the AAFA recommends:

  • Steam inhalation or nasal irrigation: A person can rinse their nose with sterile water with a neti pot. If someone wishes to try steam inhalation, they should breathe hot steam through the nose for 10–15 minutes, three to four times a day.
  • Antibiotics: If a bacterial infection is present, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
  • Nasal steroids: These can help reduce inflammation and swelling.
  • Oral steroids: These are typically for severe chronic sinusitis.

A person can also use a hot pack to help relieve swelling or take OTC pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Those ages 18 years and older can take aspirin.

Learn more about how to flush sinuses safely.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that a person should see a doctor if they have:

  • a severe headache or facial pain
  • worsening symptoms after initially improving
  • symptoms that do not improve and last longer than 10 days
  • fever that lasts longer than 3–4 days

Facial swelling can occur when a person has had a facelift or dermal fillers.


After facial surgery, a person will likely have face swelling for several days.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, a person can expect swelling from a facelift to be at its worst 3–4 days after surgery. The swelling typically remains for several weeks.

How to reduce the swelling

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons recommends that a person take any prescribed medications for pain and swelling.

A person should also discuss postsurgery care and recovery with their doctor and attend any follow-up appointments.

Proper follow-up care can help prevent the incision from becoming infected and monitor side effects such as swelling.

Dermal fillers

After getting dermal fillers, the swelling should settle within a few hours or the day. In some cases, it can last for several weeks.

How to reduce the swelling

According to 2017 research, if swelling occurs within 2 weeks of getting dermal fillers, a person can apply ice or cold packs. They can also use warm compresses.

If swelling occurs after 2 weeks, a person should talk with a doctor to find the cause. Treatment may include oral steroids.

Bruises occur when tiny blood vessels break open, allowing blood to spill into nearby areas and tissue under the skin. A person may feel pain, while the skin can appear discolored and swollen at the injury site.

How to reduce the swelling

If a bruise causes swelling, a person can apply an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel. Putting a frozen object directly on the skin can cause skin injury.

The swelling should reduce quickly, but if it remains, a person should see a doctor.

Learn more about how to heal a bruised face here.

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Ice and over-the-counter medications can help reduce facial swelling.

A broken nose can cause swelling around the eyes and face.

According to a 2016 article, nose swelling can occur within hours of the injury.

To treat a broken nose, a healthcare professional can perform closed reduction. They will set the nose back into its original position once the swelling resolves. The procedure should ideally be within 10–14 days of the injury.

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), a broken nose should fully heal within 3 weeks.

How to reduce the swelling

In the meantime, to reduce the swelling, a person can:

  • apply an ice pack wrapped in a tea towel to the nose for 15 minutes, a few times a day
  • take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil)
  • keep the head upright when in bed

Learn more about recognizing a broken nose here.

Dental procedures and dental abscesses can cause facial swelling.

Tooth removal

Dental procedures, such as tooth extraction, can cause swelling to occur on the face.

A person’s age, general health, and procedure will affect the length of recovery, but swelling should typically reduce within a few days.

How to reduce the swelling

Using ice packs following dental surgery can help reduce swelling.

A person should talk with their dentist or doctor if swelling, pain, or other symptoms do not improve after 3 days, as this can indicate an infection.

Learn more about tooth extraction aftercare.

Dental abscess

The American Dental Association (ADA) states that a person may have facial swelling if they have a dental abscess. This can be a sign of an infection and requires treatment from a dentist.

If a person has the following symptoms over the affected tooth, they should seek dental care as soon as possible:

  • tenderness
  • temperature sensitivity
  • sensitive to pressure
  • the tooth is raised and feels loose
  • swelling in the face or gums
  • bleeding gums
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • fever
  • loss of appetite

How to reduce the swelling

The treatment involves having a dentist or maxillofacial surgeon drain the pus and clean the area. They may also prescribe antibiotics.

A dentist may recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to control the pain.

If the swelling is severe or presents in the eyes or neck, a person should seek immediate medical attention.

Cellulitis is an inflammation of the skin. It results from infection and can spread quickly.

Cellulitis can occur due to:

  • animal or human bite
  • exposure to contaminated water
  • certain germs that commonly infect people with suppressed immune systems
  • skin infections, including from Streptococcus bacteria
  • skin injuries, including from surgical incisions

The ADA notes that untreated dental abscesses can also cause cellulitis on the face.

A person may need medical attention if they have:

  • unexplained swelling
  • swelling that rapidly spreads
  • an eye swollen shut
  • trouble swallowing

How to reduce the swelling

Treating cellulitis depends on the severity of the case. Some treatments for cellulitis include:

  • using antibiotics to treat the infection
  • using prednisone to help with inflammation
  • treating any related conditions

Treatment may start to reduce swelling in 48 hours.

A person should talk with a doctor about the best treatment options for their situation or if the treatment doesn’t resolve the swelling.

Some swelling during pregnancy is typical, but if a pregnant person notices swelling in their face after 20 weeks, it can indicate an issue.

Preeclampsia is a potentially serious complication of pregnancy. It presents with high blood pressure and other abnormal findings and can be life threatening to both the pregnant person and the baby.

Other than facial swelling, symptoms can include:

  • hypertension
  • protein in the urine
  • sudden weight gain
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • irritability
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • changes in vision

In some cases, a pregnant person may not experience any symptoms of preeclampsia.

Facial swelling related to preeclampsia generally resolves after delivery. If the case is mild, waiting for delivery at term may be possible.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, treatment for mild preeclampsia may involve bed rest and close monitoring. However, at 37 weeks of pregnancy, healthcare professionals may recommend inducing labor.

If a person passes 34 weeks of pregnancy and experiences severe preeclampsia, healthcare professionals may recommend delivering as soon as the condition is stable. They may prescribe corticosteroid therapy to help the fetus’s lungs mature.

Learn more about preeclampsia.

Treating facial swelling can depend on the cause but may include:

  • applying ice or cold therapy
  • treating an underlying infection with medication
  • using NSAIDs
  • using nasal irrigation
  • treating allergies

What is the fastest way to reduce facial swelling?

Typically, the fastest way to reduce swelling is through cold therapy. This can include applying an ice pack or frozen bag of peas wrapped in a tea towel to the swollen area.

How long does it take for swelling to go down on the face?

The time it takes for facial swelling to decrease can depend on the cause. Swelling after a dental extraction can take around 3 days, while swelling from a broken nose may take 10-14 days to heal.

What makes the swelling go down fast?

Applying ice to a swollen area can help relieve swelling. It’s best to wrap an ice pack in a lightweight towel to avoid skin injury from the cold.

How do I reduce swelling and puffiness on my face?

You may be able to reduce facial puffiness by getting enough sleep, washing your face with cold water, and eating a balanced and nutritious diet. Treating any contributing conditions, such as allergies or rosacea, may help.

The cause of swelling can determine the best ways to reduce or keep it under control.

In most cases, a person will need to treat any underlying conditions to reduce facial swelling.

Some common ways to treat swelling include ice packs and medications to reduce associated pain.

People should see their doctor if they have symptoms, have trouble breathing, or their symptoms do not improve.