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  5. Puffy Eyes: Triggers, Treatments & Foods To Eat/Avoid

Do you ever wake up to find your eyes looking swollen and puffy? Are the bags under your eyes making you look old and tired?

Firstly, be calm. There are several ways to help minimize the appearance of puffiness under your eyes. While puffy eyes are more of a cosmetic concern and generally harmless, sometimes they could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.

If you want to learn more about puffy eyes, what causes them and how to tackle it, read on to find out more.

What Are Puffy Eyes?

The skin that surrounds your eyes is more delicate and thinner than that of the rest of your face. When fluid accumulates in the thin layers of tissue surrounding your eyes, your eyes and eyelids can swell and appear puffy.

If you notice that your eyes appear puffier in the mornings, it could be a result of fluid retention. However, there are a variety of factors that can contribute to your eyes appearing swollen and puffy.

Additionally, shadows and discoloration of the skin can make eye bags look even more conspicuous.

What Causes Puffy Eyes?

Woman showing puffy eyes

As you age, the tissue surrounding your eyes and the muscles that support your eyelids weaken. As a result, the skin starts to sag and normal fat and collagen move into the area below your eyes, causing them to appear puffy.

Besides aging being the number one cause, several defining factors attribute to puffy eyes. These include:

  • Inadequate sleep
  • Excessive smoking
  • A high sodium diet (leads to fluid retention)
  • Genetics

Here are some other common causes of puffy eyes:

1. Allergies

Swelling or puffiness of the eyes are a common symptom of allergies. You may experience puffiness in the eyes if you have an allergic reaction to any food, chemical substances, or any other allergens. Hay fever can also result in eye puffiness.

2. Pink Eye

Medically known as conjunctivitis, pink eye can cause puffy eyes too. This is an infection caused by viruses and bacteria and is usually quite painful.

3. Chalazion

A chalazion is a harmless bump in the eyelid caused due to a blocked oil gland.

4. Stye

Styes are tender red bumps that appear at the edge of the eyelids. It is an infection that occurs when the eyelash follicle or tear gland gets blocked.

5. Trauma

Swelling may occur when the eyes receive blunt force or injuries -- the eye compresses and retracts, resulting in the accumulation of blood in the affected area.

6. Graves’ Disease

Inflammation of the eye can also occur due to Graves' disease, which is an autoimmune condition caused by a thyroid problem.

How To Get Rid Of Puffy Eyes?

1. Medications

A. Eye Drops

Antihistamine eye drops work effectively if you are facing eye puffiness due to an allergy.

Steroid eye drops may work well in case of swelling caused by an allergic reaction.

However, steroids should only be used when prescribed by your doctor. If steroids are used to treat puffiness due to other causes, they may cause more harm than good.

B. Anti-Allergy Medications

Anti-allergy medications are helpful to treat eye puffiness caused by an allergic reaction.

For example, medications like cetirizine, diphenhydramine, fexofenadine, or loratadine are some of the most commonly used anti-allergic medications. [1]

C. Ointment

An antibacterial ointment is helpful to reduce puffiness if it is caused due to a bacterial infection.

Woman showing moisturizer

Some people also get relief by applying hemorrhoid treatment ointments. Look for over-the-counter ointments that have phenylephrine which helps to narrow blood vessels thus reducing swelling. [2]

Word Of Caution:

Use eye ointment with extreme caution. Keep it away from coming in direct contact with the eye.

Consult with your doctor before using any kind of medicine.

2. Home Remedies

Certain home remedies and lifestyle changes can go a long way in reducing the appearance of puffiness around your eyes. Here's what you can do:

A. Cold Compress

[3] Grab a clean washcloth and wet it with cold water. Find a comfortable spot and apply the wet washcloth to the skin under your eyes for a few minutes.

B. Rinse Your Eyes

Rinsing your eyes with cold water can be refreshing. It is a great way to instantly brighten up tired eyes while temporarily minimizing the appearance of puffiness.

C. Use A Pillow

Use a pillow while sleeping with your head raised so that fluid does not accumulate around your eyes. [4]

D. Quit Smoking

Smoking tobacco can lead to faster collagen loss. This may lead to puffy eyes as the thin skin under the eyes becomes even thinner.

E. Eye Creams

There are various eye creams available out there that help reduce puffiness around the eyes. Look for creams that contain ingredients such as arnica, cucumber, or chamomile.

Prevention Tips For Puffy Eyes

While one of the principal causes of puffy eyes is aging, its appearance can be improved significantly by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Ensure that you follow a healthy diet, get adequate sleep, and quit smoking.

Moreover, it is important to get your eyes evaluated by your doctor to rule out more serious underlying medical conditions. Here are a few diet tips you should keep in mind:

Foods To Eat:

Group of parsley leaves
  • If you wake up with puffy eyes frequently, eat a lot of parsley leaves. Parsley helps flush out toxins from your kidneys and keeps water retention at bay.
  • Constipation could be one of the causes of puffy eyes. Include oats and fibrous vegetables in your diet as much as possible.
  • Herbal tea is also good to control the puffiness around the eyes.
  • Horseradish is another popular food that helps eliminate water from the body.

Foods To Avoid:

  • Avoid drinking fluids before bed.
  • Stay away from salty food. Restrict your salt intake, which can reduce fluid retention overnight.

When To See Your Doctor?

Puffy eyes are more of a cosmetic concern, and usually do not cause any harm or interfere with your vision.

However, if you are experiencing severe swelling, pain, irritation, or puffiness for a long time, you must consult your doctor. Also, watch out for signs such as itchiness and lingering redness.

Wrapping Up

Your eyes can appear swollen and puffy due to several factors such as weak eye muscles, water retention, allergic reactions, or other underlying health conditions.

While it is usually harmless and may go away on its own in a few days, it is strongly advisable to consult with your doctor if the condition persists or worsens.

Begin By Knowing Your Skin

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