Puffy Eyes: Causes and Remedies 

The skin around your eyes is thin and has lots of blood vessels located there, making it more sensitive than other areas of your skin. When certain factors and conditions start to affect the skin around your eyes, swelling begins causing the look of puffy eyes. For some cases of puffy eyes, a little time and a few over-the-counter style treatments will reduce the swelling. Some cases are a result of more severe medical conditions that may require professional eye care.

What Causes Puffy Eyes?

Fluid Retention

Uneven fluid distribution in the head during sleep can cause fluid retention (or swelling) in the skin around the eyes.

Hormonal Changes

Women can experience symptoms of puffy eyes during pregnancy or menstruation since hormones change dramatically.

Lack of Sleep

When the eyes do not have enough time to rest during sleep they can become puffy.

Unhealthy Diet

Taking in high levels of potassium and sodium can cause swelling that leads to puffy eyes.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions can cause rashes and swelling, especially if a particular allergen has had contact with your eyes.


When your body starts to dehydrate it attempts to store extra water by retaining fluid. Again, fluid retention leads to puffy eyes.


Your skin loses its elasticity as you get older causing the eyes to be more susceptible to swelling.

Health Disorders

Conditions such as eyelid dermatitis (a skin rash on the eyelids), conjunctivitis, tear gland dysfunction, Graves' disease, and other common to severe eye infections all begin with the symptoms of puffy eyes.

How to Treat Puffy Eyes

  • Eye washing is the simplest of all cures for puffy eyes. Use cold water to wash your eyes and massage them gently. Be careful not to rub them too hard as that can worsen the swelling.
  • Water intake. Be sure to monitor your water intake so as to not dehydrate. As stated before, dehydration leads to fluid retention, which leads to puffy eyes.
  • Enough sleep. Aim for a solid 7-8 hours of good sleep. This period of rest allows the delicate muscles in and around your eyes to relax.
  • Egg whites. A few beaten egg whites and a drop of witch hazel mixed together serves as a great remedy for puffy eyes. Apply the mixture under your eyes to help tighten the skin there and reduce swelling.
  • Reducing alcohol intake will help to reduce fluid retention behind your eyes as alcohol can dehydrate you.
  • Cold water and cold compresses help to contract the blood vessels around your eyes which reduces swelling there. You can also dip cotton balls into ice water and place them on your eyes.
  • Cold spoons can help the best when your eyes are swelling due to an allergic reaction. Chill them in the refrigerator or freezer then place them over your closed eyes with the curved side resting on your lid.
  • Cucumber slices have many soothing properties and are high in water content. Placing slices over your eyes for 10-15 minutes gives you quick and easy soothing for your peepers.
  • Potato slices. Using potato slices is a lesser known remedy for puffy eyes. The starch found in white potatoes has anti-inflammatory qualities. Place chilled slices on your eyes and swap them out every 5 minutes or so if you like.
  • Tea bags. The caffeine and antioxidants found in green and black teas make using tea bags to help with puffy eyes a no-brainer. Steep two tea bags in hot water and allow them to cool. Place one tea bag over each eye and let the healing begin.
  • Limit of salt intake. Limit your salt intake to help de-puff those eyes. Avoid making too many trips to eat fast food and get in the habit of reading the labels on the food you buy at the grocery store. Aim to buy things that are lower sodium or contain hardly any sodium.
  • Vitamin E oil. Applying a little bit of vitamin E oil around your eyes before going to bed will help reduce swelling so you do not wake up with puffy eyes. Vitamin E has skin healing properties in it that is essential to the thin and sensitive skin around your eyes.
  • Creams. Caffeinated creams will pull water from the skin making it tighter. Although it may sound weird or gross, hemorrhoid creams can also help. The main ingredient in this kind of cream can constrict blood vessels and will help shrink your under-eye tissue. Be aware of not getting this cream to close to your eyeball.
  • Make-up tricks can "reduce" puffy eyes includes using yellow-based concealer to hide redness and using lash curlers to make eyes look bigger. White or peach highlighting shadows will make puffiness appear reduced and eyes look brighter. Applying mascara to the top lashes only helps eyes look more open.

Seek medical help if puffiness is persistent even after home remedies have been tried. Excessive pain and discomfort can be signs or more severe medical infections.

Prevention of Puffy Eyes

  • Always keep the body well hydrated. It may help to carry water bottles with you throughout the day.
  • Avoid too many drinks with caffeine (like coffee), especially at night.
  • Be sure to make a habit of regularly getting a good night's sleep. Skip late night TV on your couch and log some extra sleep time.
  • Eat a diet that is rich in fiber, protein and vitamins.
  • Try not to go to sleep with eye makeup still on. Make a point to wash your face and use makeup remover before bed.
  • While sleeping, keep your head elevated a little higher. Use an extra pillow or cushion to do so comfortably.