Dealing with Swollen, Puffy Eyes: Causes & Top Treatments

Written by Jessica Cyrell — December 04, 2019

Dealing with Swollen, Puffy Eyes: Causes & Top Treatments

It’s some kind of cruel joke that the universe likes to play on us. You can’t sleep the night before something important, which only exacerbates the fact that you woke up with eyes puffier than cotton candy on a windy day. And if that wasn’t rough enough, we’re in a constant battle with the hands of time because aging only enhances the bags. It’s okay! Eye puffiness happens to the best of us. It’s just about knowing how to deal with it.

What Causes Eye Puffiness?

Maybe you’re prone to puffy eyes, or maybe they only show up when you least want them to. Well, there’s a number of factors at play here. Most of us wake up with puffy eyes in the morning. Think about it: during the day we’re moving and blinking, yet when we’re sleeping, our eyes are closed for hours on end. The same way that sitting still for a while can make the joints inflamed, so can a lack of movement cause swelling under the eyes. Fluid is bound to collect like little pools under our eyes, especially when we’re horizontal. Add that to the fact that the thin skin in this area is less than forgiving—and only getting thinner as we age—and it’s pretty much a perfect storm. But if you’re finding that puffy eyes are following you from morning into night, well then you can probably thank one of the following reasons:

  1. You inherited them from Mom and Dad
  2. You’re not drinking enough water
  3. You have sinus problems and/or allergies
  4. You’re eating a high-salt diet
  5. You’re not sleeping enough
  6. You’re stressed out
  7. It’s that time of the month
  8. Your thyroid is acting up
  9. You had one (or a few) too many glasses of wine
  10. You’re just getting older

Yes, some of these are more in our control than others. But no matter the reason, there’s a solution.

Effective Treatments for Reducing Puffy Eyes

Okay, so maybe they know you by name at the makeup counter where you get your under-eye concealer. But are you getting to the root of the problem? Below, a handful of easy solutions:

Keep Your Eye Cream in the Fridge

If you don’t know by now, you should have an eye cream that’s made specifically for this part of the face. Eye creams tend to contain ingredients specifically useful for reducing inflammation—and are light and gentle enough for the sensitive region. But if you really want to take things a step further, here’s a simple trick: refrigerate your eye cream. Not only will you preserve the potency of the ingredients, but you’ll also get a chilly boost that constricts blood vessels and reduces swelling below the eyes. Cool, calm, collected.

Hydrate, and Hydrate Some More

Chances are you need to be drinking more water—if for no other reason than the beauty benefits. Blame it on salty foods, hormonal swings, or an over-indulgent happy hour, but at the end of the day, those eyes are thirsty! When we’re dehydrated, we retain water (strange but true), resulting in bloating and sluggishness that even manifests as puffiness under the eyes. So get on that H2O. A good rule of thumb is to aim for half your body weight in ounces of water a day.

Taking it to the next level, you should also be hydrating the skin from the outside in. Puffy eye creams are great, but have you tried under-eye patches? SiO Super Eye Lift pads are made from nothing but medical-grade silicone—no serums, ointments, or oils—and they work by creating an ultra moisture-rich microclimate that penetrates through the layers of skin for long-lasting results over time. This “Super” edition is especially effective because it targets all the way from the top of the brow to the inner crease of the eye. And the best part? No time wasted. Pop these on before bed, and wake up the next morning with refreshed eyes, like nothing ever happened. 

Chill Out

The eyes might be the windows to the soul, but it turns out they can speak volumes about the state of mind, too. Here’s the excuse you’ve been looking for to indulge in a little #selfcare. Stress and anxiety raise cortisol levels in the body, which changes the salt balance in our organs and can result in inflammation. In order to reduce puffy eyes, you’ll have to chill. Turn to your go-to relaxation method or explore a new one—whether it’s gym time, treating yourself to a facial, or sneaking in a five-minute meditation session between meetings. And if you’re feeling lost, seek professional help. Far more than just your under-eyes are counting on your mental health and wellbeing!

Take Control of Your Allergies

Anyone who’s allergic to pollen, dogs, cats, or the like probably knows first-hand the disastrous effect that allergies can have on the under eyes. Allergies trigger the body to release histamine, an inflammatory-response hormone that happens to cause those tell-tale puffy eyes. Antihistamine eye drops can be a game-changer for seasonal allergies, as can over-the-counter allergy drugs. But did you know that even food allergies can cause puffiness? If you find that you’re getting puffy after eating certain foods, you may want to get a professional allergy test, or at the very least try an elimination diet, where you eliminate certain foods (try starting with top allergens like gluten, soy, and dairy) for 21 days, then gradually begin to reintroduce them into your diet, one at a time. If you notice allergy symptoms like distended eyes upon reintroducing, you just may have found the culprit! 

Get on the Essential Oils Train

Essential oils have been trendy for a few years now, but don’t let that trick you into thinking they’re just a fad. Essential oils have been used in well-respected traditional systems of medicine for thousands of years. Get a hold of some high-quality oils and introduce them to your health and beauty routine. But make sure to always dilute! Many plant extracts are too strong for direct skin contact.

Some of the best anti-inflammatory essential oils to use as a puffy eye remedy are rose geranium, lavender, chamomile, tea tree, and rosemary. Mix a couple of drops into your eye cream, or shake a few drops onto a cotton pad soaked with rosewater for a simple DIY eye mask or serum. Ahh, that’s better.

Natural Remedies Found At Home

The best treatments don’t even require leaving the couch. Let’s be honest—you’re more likely to do them if you don’t have to forage for ingredients. Here’s a handful of solutions you’ve probably got covered from the comfort of your own home.

Cold Tea Bags

Tea bags for puffy eyes. Yes, it’s an age-old trick, but there’s a reason for that: it works! Anything cold can help reduce swelling around the eyes, but tea bags have the added benefits of herbal healing. Chamomile has antioxidant properties that fight the thinning of the skin that we face as we age—and it also has the quick-fix effect of calming eye bags on the spot. Black tea and green tea are also great choices because they contain both tannins and caffeine. Tannins have shown an ability to get deep, addressing inflammation at the cellular level. And caffeine constricts blood vessels, compressing the puff and even reducing dark circles. To reap the benefits, brew a cup of tea with two bags, then remove them and enjoy tea time as you chill the bags in the refrigerator. Once they’re cool, lie back and absorb the goodness.

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel is a tried and true, soothing plant extract that’s long been used for a wide variety of skin-healing purposes: reducing inflammation, smoothing lines, and firming up the skin surface, to name a few. Once again, you can thank a high concentration of tannins for that. Studies have found that witch hazel helps to reduce swelling and redness, which is especially relevant for the under-eye area. To see the magic at work, soak a couple of cotton pads in witch hazel and lay them over closed eyes for about five minutes.


You’ve heard about cucumbers, but what about potatoes? Like cucumbers, potatoes are high in vitamin C, which smooths and fights the thinning of the skin—but more importantly, potatoes contain catecholase, an enzyme that’s been shown to lighten the skin and reduce puffy, dark circles around the eyes.

Use sliced potatoes, or peel them and place the skins under your eyes for five to ten minutes. While you’re at it, cook up the flesh, too! Potatoes are high in potassium, which helps to eliminate the kind of excess fluid in the body that can show up as under-eye bags.

In Closing

With all these tips and tricks, most of which can be done while sleeping or relaxing at home, there’s really no excuse to let puffy under eyes get you down. Cold compresses, silicone patches, and active ingredient skincare can really have you facing a new day. Just leave those bags at the door on your way out!

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