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What are the Common Causes of Forehead Swelling?

Allison Boelcke
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Swelling of the forehead can occur as a result of a wide variety of conditions. It is typically a symptom of an another underlying problem and is generally not considered serious or life-threatening. Some of the common causes of forehead swelling include skin issues, but the swelling may also be a sign of an internal condition affecting the head.

One of the most common causes of forehead swelling is contact dermatitis, an allergic reaction that occurs when the skin touches a substance it finds irritating. Irritants that can aggravate the skin and result in contact dermatitis may include cosmetics, fragrances, metals, or fabrics. If one of these irritants has contact with the forehead, such as in the case of cosmetics or the fabric lining of a hat, it can cause the area to become red, itchy, and swollen. Contact dermatitis can usually be treated with the use of topical corticosteroid medications, which soothe the symptoms of the reaction.

Another skin condition that can contribute to forehead swelling is sunburn. Overexposure to the sun can result in serious sunburns that may actually cause blistering, as well as slight swelling of the affected area. The skin has to regenerate new cells in order to heal the burns, but certain treatments may be used to soothe the pain, including applying cold compresses or aloe vera gel to the sunburn.

Forehead swelling may also be caused by a skin condition known as sebaceous cysts. A sebaceous cyst is a small growth that develops when the skin’s sebaceous glands produces excessive amounts of oil. The oil can then collect underneath the skin and form a cyst. The forehead is one of the areas of the skin that tends to be most prone to excess oil; therefore, it is one of the most common places on the skin for these cysts to form. Sebaceous cysts can form underneath the surface of the skin on the forehead and cause pain and swelling of the area.

Although most cases of forehead swelling are due to skin conditions, the swelling can also be caused by a physical injury to the forehead. If a person experiences trauma to the forehead, fluids may build up in the area and cause swelling. Applying a cold compress to the forehead is generally recommended as enough treatment to reduce the swelling; however, is a person who has experienced forehead trauma also has other symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, fever, or disorientation, it could be a sign of a concussion or other serious head injury and medical attention will typically be recommended.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Allison Boelcke
By Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By anon951648 — On May 17, 2014

I hit my head about six weeks ago and had a little scab in that spot for a week. Two weeks after hitting my head, maybe three weeks after, my forehead swelled up. It feels like fluid -- a squishy feeling and painful. Why now, almost six weeks after hitting my head? Two CT scans show swelling, but the swelling is moving from one side of my head to another. What could this be?

By bear78 — On Jun 11, 2012

@ysmina-- I know about that. It happens to my dad sometimes. When he first started seeing swelling in his forehead, he though it was neurological or related to an infection. He had several tests done and the doctors didn't find anything. He also didn't have a sinus infection or anything similar.

The doctors finally linked it to migraines because the migraines and swelling always occurred together and never separately. It was a relief to know that the cause wasn't something more serious.

My uncle had a bad case of forehead and face swelling for about a week last year too but his was because of his hair transplant surgery.

By ysmina — On Jun 11, 2012

I experience swelling with my forehead when I get migraines. It's not an extreme swelling but it's visible when you look at my face. My forehead also becomes very tender and painful to the touch when I'm having a migraine.

My migraines always start as a headache behind my eyes. Then it spreads to my head and is usually worse on one side of my head rather than the other. My forehead always feels very hot during a migraine and then the swelling develops, along with the tenderness.

I've spoken to my doctor about this several times and he said that although it isn't very common, forehead swelling can be seen with migraines. When my migraine goes away, so does the swelling. There isn't really a way I can avoid it but pain relievers and, even though I don't use them regularly, anti-inflammatory medications help too.

By fify — On Jun 10, 2012

Once I had a swollen forehead because of an allergic reaction to a hair spray.

I was using a new hair spray for the first time. The first symptom I had was itching and redness on my scalp. And since I got some hair spray on my forehead close to the hair line, those areas became swollen too.

It was really scary because I hadn't experienced something like that before. I took a shower right away to make sure all the hair spray came off. And then I put some ice on my forehead followed by a cortisone cream that the pharmacist recommended.

The cream helped a lot. The itch, redness and swelling went away in a couple of hours. Before I use any hair or face product now, I always do a skin test on my arm or hand because I don't want to go through that ever again.

Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke, a digital marketing manager and freelance writer, helps businesses create compelling content to connect with their target markets and drive results. With a degree in English, she combines her writing skills with marketing expertise to craft engaging content that gets noticed and leads to website traffic and conversions. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.
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