When fluid builds up in the tissues surrounding your eyes, your eyes and eyelids might swell up, in what is referred to as puffy eyes. Generally, eye swelling in your upper or lower eyelid is just an uncomfortable annoyance that will go away after about a day with no medical intervention. But if the puffiness and swelling last longer, it’s important to treat it, because in some cases, it may cause damage to your eyes.
There are a number of reasons why you may experience puffiness around your eyes, ranging from harmless to serious. These include:
Eye puffiness with allergies is a common problem that is easiest to treat. You may experience an allergic reaction due to hay fever, eating certain foods, or exposure to chemicals or other irritants.
Another common cause of puffy eyes is conjunctivitis. This infection usually comes about during cold and flu season and is most often associated with a virus, bacteria, allergens, or other irritants.
Styes refer to an infection in one of your eyelash follicles or tear gland, and will most likely present as uncomfortable red bumps at the edge of your eyelids.
When your eye sustains an injury, it can cause blood to accumulate underneath the damaged area, which can lead to short-term swelling and discoloration.
Also known as thyroid eye disease, Graves disease is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation of your eye.
This is the rarest cause of swelling in or around your eyes and is usually accompanied by blurred vision or loss of vision. You may also see squiggly lines in front of your vision, known as floaters.
On an even more basic level, puffy eyes can also be caused by your day-to-day habits, like poor sleep, crying, drinking too much alcohol, turning your home’s heater on high, or, if you’re a woman, coming on your period.
Treating puffy eyes
If you’re pretty sure you know the cause of your puffy eyes, there’s not normally any use in seeking medical advice – unless your eye puffiness is severe and unexplainable. Instead, you can treat the issue at home using a few simple natural remedies. Let’s get started on our list of recommended home treatments for you to try out:
1. Use a cold compress
Cold things are one of the best treatments for swelling, which is why they’re often applied to an injury that has caused the skin to become swollen. In terms of puffy eyes, it’s easy to see why a cold compress is so useful. Not only can it reduce the puffiness, but the cold is also rejuvenating, and as an extra bonus, it’s almost as good as coffee for waking you up.
To give this a go yourself, try wrapping ice in a soft cloth, or apply a chilled eye mask. Leave on until the ice begins to melt, then repeat on a weekly basis. If you’re short on supplies, a package of frozen vegetables or even a pair of chilled spoons will do the job.
2. Give your chamomile tea bags a second lease of life
Chamomile tea can do more than just get you ready for sleep every evening, and in the case of clearing your eye puffiness, you’ll want to save your teabags for non-drinking use. According to science, chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, so it’s thought that subjecting your eyes to a chilled tea bag gives the benefit of a cold compress as well.
To try out chamomile tea for puffy eyes, brew yourself a cup of tea as you usually would, then remove the teabag and transfer it over to the freezer to chill. When it’s nice and cool, take it out, lay your head back, and place let the bag rest over your closed eyelid.
If nothing else, this method proves to be very refreshing and gives a nice second use to old teabags. Some people have allergic reactions to chamomile, though, so make sure you do a skin test on your wrist beforehand.
3. Apply sliced cucumbers
When all else fails, resort to the most popular option for home-spa days and pamper sessions: the humble sliced cucumber. When you use fresh cucumbers from the fridge, they have the benefits of acting as a cold compress, soothing your swelling with their cooling properties. It’s also possible that because cucumber is a good source of powerful antioxidants and flavonoids, it can reduce the irritation around your eyes that may be causing the swelling.
The best way to apply cucumbers is to gently remove their outer skin first, which will allow them to more comfortably rest on your eye. You don’t need a thick wedge of cucumber per eye – just a thin slice that covers the whole eye area will be enough. Leave the cucumber slices to sit for 4 to 5 minutes while you lie back with your eyes closed, then remove them and repeat daily as necessary.
4. Practice exercise and eye massage
In some cases, temporary puffiness around the eyes is caused by a build-up of lymphatic fluid which you can actually drain away through massage or exercise. You probably already know enough about exercise already – so long as you’re keeping active on a daily basis, you’ll be fine – but very few of us know the first thing about how to massage our eyes.
The easiest massage for puffy eyes is as follows: start by making gentle tapping motions with your index and middle fingers, moving in a circle around your eyes. This brings blood flow to the area. Then, with your middle fingers, press firmly upward in the spots just under your brow bone on either side of your nose.
Next, press firmly inward toward your nose, above the bridge, next to your tear ducts. Finish by massaging your temples, and repeat as many times as you want per day.
5. Change your diet for the better
Nobody ever likes to be told to change aspects of their diet, but eliminating or cutting down on certain foods can really help to naturally reduce eye puffiness. For example, eating too much sodium can cause your body to retain too much water, especially in your face, so cutting down on salty foods is essential. It’s also important to drink more water and less alcohol, as dehydration can worsen the puffiness by making the eye-bag skin take on a crepe paper-like appearance.
Adding certain foods to your diet in place of those you’re cutting out can help to keep your puffy eyes at bay. Parsley, for example, helps to support your kidneys in flushing out excess fluids from your body, and oats make sure you get enough of your daily fibre intake, preventing constipation, a common cause of eye puffiness.
6. Apply raw potatoes
If you fancy switching up your usual cucumber slice pamper routine, another option to try out is raw potatoes. No, the smell might not be as fresh or appealing, and they’re clearly lacking glamour, but people swear by raw potatoes for reducing puffiness and minimizing dark circles.
Keen to give them a try yourself? Simply slice or grate raw potatoes, then submerge them in cold water and refrigerate them until chilled.
Then recline your head and place the cold potato slices, or small shredded piles of potato, directly on your eyes. You’ll need enough patience to sit around for 15 to 20 minutes, and you can repeat the process as often as you want.
7. Use chilled eye drops
This option isn’t for everyone, but the few people who have tried it out have raved about its soothing effects on puffy eyes. Simply keep a bottle of all-natural eye drops in your fridge, and get into the habit of applying a cool drop into each eye before breakfast. This is incredibly refreshing on the eyes and almost feels like a mini version of taking a cold shower or taking a brisk morning walk.
Just make sure the eye drops that you’re using are as natural as it gets, and in date, as they don’t last forever. You should also avoid doing this for longer than 2 to 3 days at a time, as excessive use of eye drops can cause your eyes to become dependent on the solution.
8. Try eye therapy patches
Miracle products rarely exist, and quite frankly, it’s nearly always better to make your own. That said, certain commercial eye therapy patches can work wonders on reducing eye puffiness after only a few minutes of use. These patches are usually placed directly underneath the eye, and you just need to lie back with them as you do with cucumber or potato and let them get to work.
If you do choose to shop for a solution, make sure you find therapy patches that contain only natural ingredients, as they’ll be kinder to your skin and are far less likely to cause an allergic reaction – which you certainly wouldn’t want if you were trying to treat an allergy in the first place! Of course, eye therapy patches aren’t as simple as a kitchen-cupboard home remedy, but if they work for you, they can be great for special occasions when all else fails.
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9. Sleep on your back (and sleep well!)
Experts have found that when you sleep face-down, this gradually causes fluid and fat to move to your lower eyelids. To prevent gravity from taking over and avoid fluid build-up, try sleeping face-up instead. You should also consider supporting your head with an extra pillow, providing this doesn’t prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
Lack of sleep can also worsen under-eye bags. If you commonly wake up with dark circles and puffy eyes, start to track your sleep schedule and make changes where they’re needed.
If your sleeping patterns are all over the place, you’re preventing your body from repairing itself, which can make your eyes appear puffy and swollen. It’s simple enough to reduce the appearance of sleep-related puffy eyes – just make sure you get seven to eight hours of solid sleep every night.
Puffy eyes are often no cause for concern, but they can be annoying to deal with. The natural remedies mentioned in this video should help you to give your eyes the care they deserve and ultimately eliminate that pesky puffiness.Remember that it’s normal to experience an increase in eye puffiness as you age, and you can use targeted anti-aging formulas to combat this. However, if nothing seems to be working for you, and your puffiness is worsening, check things out with your doctor to be on the safe side.