How to Relieve a Swollen Face

Written by on November 15, 2007 in research with 11 Comments


Sorry for replying so late. You are asking a $64,000 question and I have to give you a $64,000 answer (sic)!

We (derms) all wish we have the answer to your question as to how to treat swelling in rosacea.

I thought a lot about it and if the group members are willing to try this – do this for at least a month (unless there is problem) continuously and please post your responses. The body does not respond pronto – it takes its own sweet time…….

I believe that the swelling of the cheeks in rosacea, is due to flushing which causes hyperemia (an abnormally large amount of blood) to the face.

If one can control the flushing effectively, then the edema (swelling) will GRADUALLY subside. Of course, in the more severe cases of rosacea, inflammation also contributes to the edema but my guess is that the inflammation will also be controlled if the flushing is controlled.

Avoid Triggers

First, avoid triggers (which you all know).

Soothe the Skin

Second, control the target organ (skin) by soothing the inflammation and good skin regimen and use your appropriate topicals.

Control Flushing

Third, control the flushing, which is the hardest. Unfortunately, flushing can be caused by a myriad of chemical mediators such as histamine, prostaglandins, serotonin, lysyl- bradykinins, acetaldehyde, to name a few.

Flushing can also be caused by neural mediators as controlled by the autonomic nervous system. It seems that some people have blood vessels that are hypersensitive due to increased beta-adrenergic receptors in the muscles of the blood vessels walls or increased catecholamines in the nerve endings.

Some oral meds that help control flushing, may be hard on the system for some people. Examples are betablockers such as Propanolol; alpha adrenergic antagonist such as clonidine.

There are however, other OTC meds that are easier on the system such as: aspirin (blocks prostaglandin synthetase), antihistamines – ex. Chlor-trimeton which blocks H1 receptors; Cimetidine (Tagamet) which blocks H2 receptors. Pyridoxine (vit.B-6) has also been found to be helpful as a prophylaxis.

Swelling Relief Regime

Here’s a suggested regimen:

At bedtime:

  • Take 1 baby aspirin;
  • 1 chlor-trimeton (4 mg)
  • 1 tab of Tums (Calcium Carbonate , an antacid to offset the gastric irritating effect of the aspirin).

In the AM:

  • Take a B Complex vitamin that contains 50 mg. of B-6. Avoid one w/ Niacin (Niacinamide is fine)
  • 1 Tagamet (200 mg).

During bouts of flushing, apply a cool (not cold) compress on face. Do deep breathing 10 times slowly.

Linda Sy M.D.
Linda Sy Skin Care

—–Original Message—–

Date: Friday, March 26, 1999 1:42 PM
Subject: [rosacea] ? For Dr. Sy

Hi Dr. Sy,

I have a question regarding swollen cheeks.

My cheeks always seem to be swollen, except when I’m absolutely relaxed AND not flaring. (In other words, even a little pink tone on my skin makes my cheeks swell up.) I’ve asked doctors about this and they say to cut back on the salt or lose weight.

I am pretty sure that this is related to rosacea since I’m at normal weight and don’t eat a lot of salty foods.

Do you know why this happens to people with rosacea? Could it be related to the leaky mast cells that Dr. Nase was talking about?

Also, do you know how to “depuff” the cheeks? They seem to be a symptom that I can do the least about (& ,of course, am the most frustrated with).

Any insight into this topic would be most appreciated!!

Thank you very much,


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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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11 Reader Comments

  1. David Castillo says:

    Hello, I’ve had rosacea for about three years, and I recently noticed a change in my skin. I can’t really describe it that well, but it looks like scaly skin with a little bit of swelling. It’s mainly on the cheeks area, where of course most of us rosacea patients see the changes. I am taking tetracycline, but at times it seems that it’s not working as well as it did in the past. I’ve changed what I eat, drink, etc and it seems this new change in my rosacea symptoms seems a bit difficult to understand. Should I see a dermatologist to see if my rosacea is changing?

  2. Rabia says:

    I’ve got that same thing, since my last flare just this week. I’m also on tetracycline. Keep us posted if things improve and let us know what improved it. I am also wondering if rosacea changes, and plan to see a dermatologist asap.

  3. Laura says:

    Please send any info for relief. I am getting worse everyday! I tried Prosecea….did not do anything 🙁

  4. dyanne says:

    this sweeling is terrible on my cheeks and upper eyelids right under brows. Has anyone had that??? Im going crazy,,, this has ruined my sin…

  5. Carol says:

    My Rosacea flareup has effected my forehead. It has caused me to feel tightness over the skin on my forehead and the surrounding eye socket, is this normal?

  6. Samantha Amons says:

    My rosacea started about 2yrs ago and over the last two weeks my eyes seem almost swollen shut and my face is in so much pain from the inflammation and pain from the 50 pimples that show up daily. My face is crusty and oily filled with pimples from my chin to my cheeks up under my eyes and my forehead. I can hardly move my face because it is so swollen and painful and nothing has worked for me yet. Prosacea hasn’t worked it made my face worse

  7. wendy taylor says:

    I have had this for about 8 years, and it keeps getting worse, I went to Dermatologists, who did not treat it, but gave me lots of expensive prescriptions which did not help, but just depleted my bank account.
    Currently, the right side of my face is horribly swollen. I try to message it, but it does not help.

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