Causes of Puffy Eyes & What You Can Do

They’re red. They’re saggy. They’re highlighting lots of fine lines and wrinkles.

These are puffy eyes, and while they’re an extremely common phenomenon, their regularity doesn’t make them any nicer to see. Not only can they add a decade to your appearance, but they can also be physically uncomfortable and emotionally draining to live with. In some cases, they can even be indicators of underlying health problems.

So, what causes swollen eyelids and dark under-eye bags? How can you fix them, or even better, how can you avoid them in the first place?

Let’s talk about bringing new life to tired, puffy eyes.

Puffy Eye Causes

There could be many reasons behind puffy eyes. In fact, it’s rarely just one. It’s usually a combination of factors.

Lack of Sleep

You’re probably familiar with this one. When you don’t get enough sleep, you wake up with dark under-eye bags. It’s caused by expanding blood vessels beneath the skin that are even more noticeable when your face is pale and puffy from a lack of sleep. Thankfully, all of these things are easily fixed by getting enough rest.

Poor Diet

A high-sodium diet can cause fluid retention around the eyes. In other words, if you eat a lot of junk food and takeout, that bloat can settle in your belly and your face. Try cleaning up your diet and eating fresh, healthy foods that will keep your body energized and balanced.


It’s completely normal and natural to lose firmness in your face as you age. The skin gets looser, and the underlying muscles get weaker. This allows the fat around the eyes to bulge out more than usual and create a puffy or swollen appearance. Additionally, as the skin gets thinner, it’s more likely to show fine lines and other imperfections in the delicate tissue.

Health Problems

Red and swollen eyes are a common symptom of thyroid problems. You might also have dark circles if any medical condition is messing with your diet or sleep schedule and causing anemia. Last but not least, certain vitamin deficiencies can cause or worsen puffy eyes.


No one likes to hear this, but it’s true. Genetics can play a role in the elasticity of your skin. It becomes especially notable as you get older: You might get wrinkles faster than other people your own age, or you might be more prone to drooping eyelids or swollen under-eyes.

Puffy Eye Prevention

While there isn’t much that you can do about the aging process, there are ways to prevent puffy eyes caused by lifestyle factors.

Drink More Water

It’s actually a myth that you need eight glasses per day, but it’s true that drinking water is a solution for many ills, including puffy eyes. Many people don’t even realize that they’re dehydrated, but it can impact your mood, appearance, energy levels and more.

Elevate Your Head

This works for fluid build-up around the eyes. By stuffing a few extra pillows beneath your head, you can prevent fluid from pooling in the face throughout the night. You can also experiment with bed risers and remote-controlled mattresses for the same effect.

Beware Allergies

It doesn’t have to be pollen season for allergies to rear their ugly head. They can cause everything from itchy, watery eyes to congested sinuses that make you rub your face and swell things even more. It might be worth a visit to your doctor to get some eye drops or antihistamines.

Take Vitamins or Supplements

Certain vitamins can help with under-eye bags. Potassium, for example, can reduce fluid retention in the body, and Vitamin E is great for overall skin health. More fiber might stop you from feeling bloated. You can up your daily intake for these vitamins through your diet or with supplements.

Improve Your Health

Drink less alcohol. Go to bed earlier. Eat your fruits and veggies. This is easier said than done, of course, but if you can stop droopy eyelids and dark circles before they happen, you won’t even need to worry about treatment options. You’ll have stopped the problem at its source.

Puffy Eye Treatment

Prevention is great, but what if you already have puffy eyes? How can you make them go away? You might have to experiment with different methods before you figure out what works for you, so don’t be afraid of a little trial and error with the following.

Beauty Products

There are a number of creams, serums, lotions and face masks that promise anti-aging benefits for the eyes. The most effective ones usually contain retinol, an ingredient that’s been proven to stimulate the production of collagen in the skin. Studies have also shown promise with products containing small amounts of caffeine.

At-Home Remedies

Some people swear by home remedies while others insist that they’re a waste of time. Ultimately, however, there’s no harm in trying. Here are some popular natural remedies for puffy eyes:

  • Essential oils containing anti-inflammatory properties
  • Cold treatments to reduce inflammation, including compresses, refrigerated spoons and chilled cucumber slices
  • Eye rollers to stimulate circulation and cell production

Just make sure that you’re being safe with home remedies. For example, never apply essential oils directly to the eyes.


Also called an “eyelid lift,” blepharoplasty is a cosmetic surgery for the eyelids. It can be used to remove both dead skin and excess fat and muscle from the eye region. As a bonus, it’s a minimally evasive procedure that requires only 1 – 2 hours in the chair. Look into blepharoplasty in Minneapolis if you’re interested.

At the end of the day, while you can’t stop the natural effects of aging, you can reduce the appearance of red, swollen and puffy eyes. It just takes some lifestyle changes and a willingness to try new beauty products and procedures. Good luck!

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