Puffy eyes occur for many reasons. Inherited facial features, allergies, stress, eye fatigue and individual skin characteristics such as texture can all contribute to puffy eyes.
A long-lasting solution depends on the underlying cause.
Ordinary swelling around the eyes means you have an excessive accumulation of fluids or edema in the surrounding skin tissue. As the skin around the eyes is the thinnest skin in the body, swelling and discoloration can be quite prominent.
As you age, the lids under the eye may swell with fluids or fats as muscles and ligaments responsible for holding those fats in place become lax.
Puffy eyes generally result from a variety of factors.
Causes Of Puffy Eyes
- Overconsumption of salt which causes fluid retention
- Allergies that can cause inflammation and swelling
- Sinus problems
- Fatigue and lack of sleep
- Inherited facial features
READ MORE: Sinus Infection (Sinusitis), Symptoms, Causes + Natural Remedies
Puffy Eyes: What Ayurveda Says
Chakradatta says that puffiness around the eyes occurs when the process of digestion is disturbed. Puffiness can also be caused by allergies and fluid retention.
- Puffiness that is worse in the morning when you wake up suggests water retention as the cause.
- Excess salt intake can increase peri-orbital edema.
- Diabetics with poor kidney function may have baggy eyes.
- Sleeping on your tummy can also give rise to bags under your eyes in the morning.
- Improper eating habits, overeating, indulgence in fast food and improper sleep patterns may be the cause.
If you eat regularly in front of the television, computer or mobile phone, chances are you aren’t chewing and digesting food properly.
Puffiness under the eyes may also imply oversleeping, sleep deprivation or adrenal exhaustion.
Inflammatory and Pitta aggravating substances such as alcohol, tobacco, spring allergies and infections may cause puffiness around the eyes.
The condition can be hereditary as well.
READ MORE: Craving Salt: What It Means, What You Can Do
How To Get Rid Of Puffy Eyes
Fortunately, there are numerous natural things you can do to get rid of puffy eyes.
Eliminating or changing certain habits of your lifestyle and / or diet, and adopting certain home remedies can help you reduce the under eye bags.
1. Avoid Allergies
Take care of your allergies. If you are allergic, use eye drops or splash cold, filtered water over your face and eyes for irritation whenever you are exposed to any allergen, dust or pollen. You can use pure rose water, triphala water or amla water to wash your eyes.
A Neti pot can help flush out all that extra moisture in your sinuses from seasonal allergies, colds or infections. It looks like a small teapot. Simply pour mildly salted, warm water into one nostril and let it drain out the other.
This procedure originates in Yoga, the sister science of Ayurveda. It falls under shatkarma, the six cleansing procedures mentioned in Yoga.
Nasya or pratimarsha nasya is oil insufflation and can be used daily in case you are allergic. You can put two drops of sesame oil, mustard oil or pure ghee into each nostril morning and evening.
2. Try A Cold Compress
Applying iced compresses when your lids are swollen may help get rid of those puffy eyes.
Place cucumber slices or chilled tea bags over closed eyes. Not only can this help reduce puffy eyes, but it can also be very relaxing. Chilled, dampened tea bags with a drop of lavender essential oil work well.
3. Lower Your Salt Intake
Sodium in common salt can cause fluid retention and lead to puffiness under the eyes. Avoid high salt foods like pizza and processed foods. Opt for fresh vegetables. Celery in particular can help curb your desire for salt.
4. Facial Exercises
Exercise is a natural way to reduce signs of aging and can promote a youthful glow to the skin. The area around your eyes however, will benefit from special facial exercises.
Licensed esthetician and author of The Yoga Facelift, Marie-Veronique Nadeau explains that yoga for the face involves slow exercises of the facial muscles to help tone and tighten them.1
Inverted yoga poses such as shoulder stand and back bends, can help increase circulation to the face. They help carry away excess fluid and relieve swelling.
5. Avoid Sleeping On Your Tummy
Sleep on your back to prevent gravity from causing fluid buildup around the eyes.
6. Prevent Dehydration
Keep yourself hydrated with sufficient water intake. Eliminate or limit alcohol and aerated beverages as they dehydrate your skin and body.
7. Stop Smoking
Smoking causes premature aging around the eyes in particular. Chemicals found in cigarettes are toxic and can cause irritation around the eyes. This could result in dark circles or under eye bags in addition to a wrinkled, droopy appearance.
8. Consume Hydrating Foods
Hydrating foods and circulation-boosting antioxidants make a noticeable difference. Mineral-rich foods help to balance fluids. Include cucumber, watermelon, berries, celery, tomatoes and beetroot in your diet.
9. Try Collagen Rich Food
Collagen is located within the dermis of the skin below the outermost layer. It is the foundation of connective tissue that supports the skin’s structure—making it essential for younger and firmer-looking skin.
With aging, the body produces less collagen.
Naturally occurring enzymes break collagen down causing the skin to thin, lose fullness and form wrinkles. The sun, pollution, free radicals, and smoke are also responsible for disintegrating collagen.
The body is constantly creating new collagen to repair what’s been damaged. Yet around age 35, collagen production naturally begins to taper off, and the quality of collagen is not as good as in years past.
The good news? In addition to topical products and treatments, food is a great way to naturally boost collagen in the skin.
10. Sleep And Rest
Last but not least getting plenty of sleep and rest is essential. Proper rest and at least 6-8 hours of sleep is a must if you want to establish good health and happiness.
Collagen-Rich Foods For Puffy Eyes
Increasing collagen levels can help your skin look firmer, increase smoothness, and help your skin cells keep renewing and repairing normally. Here are the best foods to restore, regenerate and repair damaged collagen.
Collagen-rich foods include dark green vegetables, red vegetables, orange vegetables, berries, soy protein, white tea, egg protein, bone broth, meat-based soups, fish like tuna or salmon, and herbal supplements like garlic, amla, gotu kola, aloe vera and pomegranate.
Dark green vegetables are rich in vitamin C. Dark green vegetables like spinach and kale can stimulate collagen production.
Red vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and beets contain the antioxidant lycopene.
Orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A. Vitamin A restores and regenerates damaged collagen.
Blackberries and raspberries scavenge free radicals while simultaneously increasing collagen levels.
Soy protein including soy milk, soy cheese or tofu, contains genistein (plant hormones that serve as antioxidants). Genistein prompts collagen production and helps to block enzymes like MMPs that can age the skin.
According to research conducted by Kingston University and Neal’s Yard Remedies, white tea may protect the structural proteins of the skin, specifically collagen. It’s believed to prevent enzyme activity that breaks down collagen, contributing to lines and wrinkles.
Studies show that citrus fruits such as oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruits rich in vitamin C have the ability to help amino acids—lysine and proline—convert to collagen. Antioxidant vitamin C is also extremely important in helping to neutralize free radicals, which attack and break down collagen and elastin in the skin.
Egg whites are high in both lysine and proline as well as collagen itself. Adding more egg whites into your diet could help support your body’s natural production of collagen.
Fish like tuna and salmon are “loaded with omega-3 fatty acids,” says New York nutritionist Brooke Alpert. Skin cells are surrounded by a fatty membrane that protects them. When the cells are healthy, they are able to support the structure of the skin.
Garlic is one of the best sources of sulfur which is necessary to collagen production in the body. Garlic also provides lipoic acid and taurine that help rebuild collagen fibers that have been damaged.
Amla extract (Emblica officinalis) elevates the mitochondrial activity of human skin fibroblasts and promotes production of pro-collagen. These results suggest that amla extract has a number of potential in mitigative, therapeutic, and cosmetic applications.1
Ethanol extracts of Glycyrrhiza glabra found in licorice, Curcuma longa from turmeric root, seeds of Psoralea corylifolia, Cassia tora, Areca catechu, Punica granatum, fruits of Emblica officinalis or Amla, leaves of Centella asiatica, dried bark of Cinnamon zeylanicum or cinnamon and fresh gel of Aloe vera in varied concentrations showed improvement of the viscoelastic and hydration properties of the skin.
These beneficial effects might be due to the synergistic antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and UV protective properties of the herbal ingredients.2
Potassium-rich foods like bananas, avocados, spinach, sweet potato, coconut water and yogurt will reduce water retention and help in getting rid of puffy eyes.
Puffy eyes can also be due to an underlying medical condition.
Particularly when they occur unexpectedly, swollen, puffy eyes sometimes signal an underlying medical problem.
Swollen eyelids occur when there is inflammation or excess fluid (edema) in the connective tissues surrounding the eye. Swollen eyes can be painful and non-painful, and affect both the upper and lower eyelids.
There are numerous causes of a swollen eye. Eye infections, eye injuries or trauma, and most commonly, allergies may all be the culprit. It is important that you visit your eye doctor for a thorough eye exam if your symptoms persist, worsen or change.
During an allergic reaction, certain cells in the body release a chemical called histamine that has many adverse effects on body tissues, including fluid leakage from the blood vessels. These fluids become trapped in the surrounding tissues causing edema.
More serious causes of puffy or swollen eyes may also exist. Systemic diseases including kidney failure can lead to general swelling throughout the body, including around the eyes.
Kidney And Liver Problems
Kidney problems and liver issues are interrelated. One cannot have a kidney issue without having a liver condition.
The kidney is a detoxifier of the body. It filters the blood. If you are consuming too much-cooked protein and little vegetables, the body cannot process the excess protein. The body turns it into excess waste, producing a strain on the liver and the kidneys.
People with puffy eyes and edema around their ankles are often people who take excess cooked protein and very little to no vegetables.
If you are not getting enough vegetables and you tend to develop bags under your eyes, start having more vegetables than protein.
Potassium Sodium Balance
Your body needs a certain amount of potassium and a certain amount of sodium to work efficiently. Fluid retention results from sodium excess. If you have normal potassium amounts that alone will flush out excess sodium from the system helping you get rid of water retention.
Your daily potassium requirement is four times as much as sodium. Many however are doing just the reverse and indulging in four times the sodium than potassium. This results in water-logging the body. Vegetables contain more potassium content than proteins, which are higher in sodium content.
Excessive alcohol consumption is another cause of water retention and puffy eyes. Try to cut down on your alcohol consumption and keep yourself hydrated with hydrating foods and drinks.
Excessive use of monosodium glutamate (MSG) can lead to puffy eyes. MSG is a non-salty sodium often used in Chinese restaurants for flavoring food. It leaves you very thirsty and you end up drinking lots of water leading to water retention.
Prostate enlargement can result in puffy eyes. When an enlarged prostate puts excess pressure on the bladder, it cannot evacuate fully. The remaining urine returns back into the ureters which take it back to the kidneys. The kidneys are now unable to filter properly and become enlarged due to fluid retention.
High Blood Sugar Levels
Increased blood sugar levels is another pathological cause of puffy eyes. Excess sugar in the blood leads to water retention in certain pockets like the feet and under the eyes.
When To See The Doctor
The term “puffy eyes” often is interchangeable with “swollen eyes.”
Swollen eyes generally describes an immune response to an allergy, infection or injury. Puffy eyes is more likely used to refer to the external physical characteristic of swollen eyes from water retention, lack of sleep or genetic traits like dark circles under the eyes.
Puffy eyes can include mild swelling, saggy or loose skin and/or dark circles. While you may not like the way these bags look, they are usually harmless and do not require medical attention.
If you experience severe and persistent bags accompanied by redness, itching or pain, please see your doctor.
If you notice redness, itching or pain on other parts of your body such as your legs, you could be having an allergic reaction and need medical attention.
Your doctor will want to rule out other possible causes that can contribute to the swelling, such as thyroid disease or an infection.
As you age, the tissue structures and muscles supporting your eyelids weaken with the loss of collagen. This weakening of the tissue can cause the skin to sag.
Fat that is normally found in the area around the eyes may move into the area below your eyes, accumulating fluid and making the under-eye area appear puffy or swollen.
Fluid retention due to changes in weather, hormone levels, eating salty foods, not getting enough sleep, allergies, dermatitis — especially if puffiness is accompanied by redness and itching — and heredity can all contribute to puffy eyes.3
- Fujii T, Wakaizumi M, Ikami T, Saito M. Amla (Emblica officinalis Gaertn.) extract promotes procollagen production and inhibits matrix metalloproteinase-1 in human skin fibroblasts. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2008;119(1):53–57.]
- Ahshawat MS, Saraf S, Saraf S. Preparation and characterization of herbal creams for improvement of skin viscoelastic properties. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2008;30(3):183–193. [PubMed]