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Facial Swelling

Follow this chart to help distinguish various types of swelling on the face.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Do you have a painless, soft to firm lump on your head, face, or neck? Do you see a pore or small hole at the top of the bump?

  • Are your lips and eyes swollen and do you have a rash that looks like mosquito bites?

  • Do you have a painful pink or red bump, or a group of smaller bumps on your forehead or face?

  • Do you have red, flaky, oily areas near the edges of your scalp, in the side folds of your nose, or on your cheeks?

  • Do you have painful swelling near one or both ears, and do you have fever along with pain when chewing or swallowing?

  • Do you have reddish, raised, excessive tissue that seems to be growing around the area of a scar or piercing?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • Diagnosis

    You may have a SEBACEOUS CYST, a collection of oil under the skin. Sebaceous cysts are usually small and grow slowly. Gentle pressure on it may express a thicker/cheesy discharge.


    Self Care

    It is common for cysts to discharge as stated above. See your doctor if the cyst becomes tender or inflamed. Your doctor may suggest treating an inflamed cyst with injections, and may also recommend surgery to remove the cyst.


  • Diagnosis

    Your symptoms may be from an ALLERGIC REACTION or HIVES.


    Self Care

    If you have trouble breathing, your throat becomes tight, or the swelling becomes severe, see your doctor or go to the emergency room right away.

    If you are not having trouble breathing and the swelling is mild, you can take an over-the-counter antihistamine and call your doctor.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a skin infection, such as BOILS, CARBUNCLES, or ACNE. A BOIL is a large, pus-filled bump. Multiple boils are called CARBUNCLES. ACNE occurs when oil glands start producing more oil and block pores. Acne can result in blackheads or whiteheads (PUSTULES), which are known as pimples.


    Self Care

    A warm compress may help BOILS and CARBUNCLES heal faster. See your doctor if you’re in pain or if the infection hasn’t healed in a couple of weeks. If you have ACNE, try using an over-the-counter acne medicine and washing your face 1-2 times per day with a mild soapy cleanser. Avoid picking at the pimples. See your doctor if the problem persists.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a skin irritation caused by ACNE, ROSACEA, or SEBORRHEA.


    Self Care

    You can use over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoo, applying it just prior to bathing, and leaving it in for 5 minutes before washing it away. See your doctor if it worsens or does not improve.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have MUMPS, a contagious viral infection that affects the glands below and in front of the ears, as well as causes enlargement of your spleen (an organ in your abdomen).


    Self Care

    The measles, mumps, and rubella  (MMR) vaccine prevent MUMPS. If you think you have MUMPS, see your doctor. Because this infection is caused by a virus, antibiotics aren’t effective. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines to relieve the pain. Cold compresses may also help. Avoid activities that cause forceful physical contact with your abdomen.


  • Diagnosis

    You may have a KELOID. This is a benign growth that occurs at sites of previous injury to the skin.


    Self Care

    See your doctor. Your doctor may perform injections of corticosteroids into the KELOID or potentially consider removing it.


  • Self Care

    For more information, talk to your doctor. If you think the problem is serious, call your doctor right away.


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