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Puffy eyes (eye bags) refer to swelling under the eyes. They can create the look of dark circles or shadows under the lower eyelids. Swelling, redness, and irritation are also common with puffy eyes.1
Dark circles are usually only a cosmetic complaint, which is not cause for medical concern. However, sometimes puffy eyes occur due to an allergic reaction or underlying health issue.1
There are several ways to treat puffy eyes, depending on their cause. Treatments range from at-home care to surgical procedures.
Here’s everything you need to know about what causes puffy eyes, how to treat them, and how to prevent them:
Puffy eyes develop for a variety of reasons. These include:
There are several ways to get rid of puffy eyes. The treatment(s) needed depends on what caused them in the first place.
Here are eight ways to treat puffy eyes and dark circles:
Chronic sleep loss can result in swelling and/or dark circles around the eyes. You should aim to sleep at least 7 to 9 hours a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF).6
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), most adults should not consume more than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day. If you have high blood pressure, you should consume much less than that.9
While you’re eating less-salty foods, also consider drinking less alcohol, which is a dehydrant.
You should also look for products, such as a retinol cream, that have collagen as an ingredient. Collagen is a vital protein for healthy skin.4
Cold compresses may help you get rid of eye puffiness.2 You can try cooling masks.
Other at-home products can also reduce inflammation around your eyes:
If your under eye bags are a result of crying, try destressing. Meditating, journaling, exercising, and other endorphin-boosting activities help reduce stress.
Note: If you find yourself frequently crying due to stress, consider speaking to a mental health professional. Therapy helps address anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions.
Another way to reduce puffy eyes is to make sure that you’re drinking enough water each day. Staying hydrated reduces inflammation and keeps your body functioning properly.
Most people need to drink at least 8 cups of water a day to stay fully hydrated.
If you’re experiencing seasonal allergies or are having an allergic reaction, you may need allergy medication. Medication can relieve allergy symptoms, like swelling under the eyes.
If at-home remedies do not help the puffy appearance of your eyes, consult your doctor. You may have an underlying health condition they can identify and treat.
For example, if you have pink eye, your doctor can prescribe medicated eye drops. If you have a thyroid condition that’s causing swelling around your eyes, treating it can help reduce the puffiness.
You may experience other symptoms with swollen eyelids, including:
You should see a medical professional if you cannot pinpoint the reason behind your puffy eyes or if your symptoms do not subside after treatment.
Puffy eyes can cause vision problems, which can lead to headaches and other health issues. Puffy eyes that do not go away may be a sign of a more serious condition.
Cases are considered serious when:
If you are concerned your puffy eyes are a sign of a serious issue, talk to your doctor. They can provide a professional diagnosis and medication as needed.
If you choose to seek professional help, you have other options in addition to consulting your primary physician.
Estheticians, for example, can apply fillers around your eyes to reduce the look of puffy skin under the eyes.5
More than a million Americans get injections of hyaluronic acid each year. These fillers can last from about 6 to 18 months.8
In more severe cases, some people may be eligible for surgery to treat puffy eyes. This lower eyelid surgery is called blepharoplasty.1, 3 It is a quick, outpatient procedure.
During this surgery, your surgeon will remove any excess fat under your eyes. They may also tighten your muscles and skin around the area.3
Sometimes puffy eyes are not preventable, especially if they are genetic.5
However, these tips might help prevent puffy eyes:2
Generally, puffy eyes are nothing serious. Sometimes all you need is a little more sleep or water.
By following the tips above, you can help keep the skin under your eyes from becoming inflamed. If you develop puffy eyes and choose to treat them at home, make sure to monitor their healing.
If you notice the swelling is not improving, your doctor can recommend professional treatments and home remedies.
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