How Do I Get Rid of Bags Under My Eyes?

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Eye bags are often described as a swollen or half-moon profile on the thin layer of skin under the eyes and may be accompanied by dark circles.

Eye bags are often associated with sleepless nights, but there are actually several causes of eye bags. Fortunately, regardless of its cause, there are a variety of home and professional treatments that can help reduce its appearance.

Puffy, swollen eye bags are usually caused by too much fluid or fat in the area. This can be caused by:

  • Aging and genetics: As we age, the tissues and fat pockets under the eyes can shift, sag, and shrink in size, resulting in more prominent eye bags. If some people’s relatives have the same problem, then they may be genetically more susceptible to it.
  • Allergies: Allergens can trigger sinus congestion and inflammation, making the under-eye area appear swollen and sometimes itchy or darker than the surrounding skin.
  • Fluid retention: If your body retains too much fluid due to a high-sodium diet or dehydration, it can cause swelling under your eyes.
  • Lack of sleep: Sleep deprivation or sleeping with your head not resting on your pillow can wreak havoc on your skin, resulting in eye bags and dark circles.
  • Infections or health conditions: Infections or diseases that affect the eye area, such as conjunctivitis (pink eye), blepharitis (bacterial overgrowth), certain thyroid problems, etc., can cause puffy eyes.

While almost everyone may develop under-eye bags, some people may be more susceptible to under-eye bags than others. For example, people with a family history of eye bags and older adults may be more likely to notice the problem.

Home Remedies for Eye Bags

Depending on the underlying cause behind eye bags, there are several home remedies you can try to help reduce the appearance of eye bags.

Cool Compress

Applying a cold compress along the area under the eyes can help reduce blood flow to this delicate area, reducing inflammation and constriction of blood vessels that cause puffiness and dark circles under the eyes.

To try this method at home, you can apply light pressure to the area for a few minutes using a cool towel or ice pack. These results are temporary, so it’s best to test them daily.

Retinol products

Over-the-counter (OTC) eye creams are the go-to option for combating puffiness around the eyes. Experts recommend trying eye products that use retinol (a vitamin A derivative) as the main ingredient to help reshape the area and promote skin cell turnover.

Bonus – In addition to smoothing dark circles, retinol can also help improve fine lines and brighten dark circles.

Vitamin C products

Vitamin C is touted for its ability to help reduce signs of skin aging, promote collagen growth, and protect the skin from UV rays. That said, trying an eye cream with vitamin C as the main ingredient may help restore firmness under the eyes, smooth the entire area, and eliminate puffiness.

The results of this strategy may take a while to manifest themselves and depend on the exact dosage of the product.

Caffeine products

Caffeine isn’t just for the cup of coffee you drink in the morning. There are also benefits to applying this ingredient topically under the eyes. This is because caffeine helps build blood vessels and reduces swelling, making the area under the eyes look less puffy.

While it’s only a temporary solution, caffeine is key to helping boost circulation and reduce overall inflammation.

Green tea and black tea

There are two items you may already have in your kitchen that may be useful in treating the pesky area under the eyes: green tea bags or black tea bags. Studies have shown that green and black tea can help reduce the appearance of eye bags (and dark circles). This is because these teas are rich in antioxidants, caffeine, and anti-inflammatory properties that stimulate blood flow to the skin, smoothing the entire area.

Try using cold tea bags to get rid of puffiness around your eyes.

Gentle skin massage

Lymphatic drainage is more than just a full-body massage strategy, you can also gently massage the under-eye area to achieve some of the same results. Studies have shown that doing so can help reduce pain and inflammation and reduce eye swelling, especially after cosmetic surgery.

Experts recommend gently massaging under the eyes with household tools such as fingertips or jade rollers, both upwards and outwards. Regular practice can help reduce fluid buildup in the area.

Treatment of allergies

If you think eye bags may be caused by an allergen, try using an over-the-counter antihistamine to help reduce puffiness around your eyes. For eye bags and puffiness around the eyes, antihistamine eye drops can also help. You can also try to avoid excessive rubbing, which can cause further inflammation of the area.

Be sure to consult a healthcare provider or allergist for professional allergy treatment as needed.

Medication for Eye Bags

Not satisfied with the results of home remedies? There are a variety of professional options to tighten the skin and reduce the appearance of eye bags.

Chemical peels

Chemical peels involve the removal of the outer layer of skin using a safe, controlled amount of acid that can help make the under-eye area look smoother.

Depending on the specific type of chemical peel used, discoloration and discomfort may occur as the skin heals. Your healthcare provider will also discuss potential risks such as post-operative care and scarring.

Injectable fillers

Injectable fillers can help temporarily restore volume and smooth out certain areas of the face, including the under-eye area. Additionally, these products can help stimulate collagen production, resulting in a firmer, healthier look eye area.

You may need to repeat this process after a few months to maintain the results. Temporary side effects may include swelling, tenderness, occasional bruising, and discoloration.

Laser skin resurfacing

Lasers are another option to treat eye bags and surrounding signs of aging. Different types of laser treatments can help tighten the skin, constrict the underlying blood vessels, and reduce pigmentation (discoloration) – all of which can lead to puffiness in the eyes.

For a few days after surgery, as the skin heals, discomfort, blistering, peeling, and a sunburn-like appearance may occur. Some laser treatments carry a risk of discoloration, infection, scarring, and additional swelling.

Cosmetic surgery

For more severe cases, a procedure called blepharoplasty can help permanently remove eye bags. This involves removing excess fat or skin from the area through a small incision to help reshape and smooth the skin under the eyes, providing a long-term solution. That said, if the surgery is not permanent, then it may be beneficial because gravity and aging can continue to take a toll on your eyelids even after the procedure.

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about the risks of surgery and the type of recovery period you can expect.

How to Prevent Eye Bags

While some eye bags may not be completely preventable, experts recommend taking some steps to help reduce the chances of eye bags forming or worsening.

  • Use sunscreen daily to protect the delicate eye area from UV rays, which break down collagen and elastin
  • Get enough sleep — usually about 7 to 9 hours a day — and try to sleep in a slightly elevated position to prevent drainage and puffiness
  • Manage stress through techniques such as exercise, breathing, and meditation, as elevated cortisol levels can affect skin appearance and inflammation
  • Limit sodium in your diet and stay hydrated to stay properly hydrated and eliminate excess fluid retention in the eye area.
  • If applicable, quit smoking to stop thinning of the skin and loss of collagen in the eye area

When to See a Healthcare Provider

For most people, eye bags are just a cosmetic issue and nothing to worry about.

However, if the area under the eye is painful, uncomfortable, itchy, red, or discolored, or if there is sudden puffiness or other changes, consult a healthcare provider to pinpoint the source of the problem. These can be signs of an allergic reaction or other health conditions, such as thyroid or sinus problems.

If the appearance of your eye bags is distressing or affects your quality of life, you may also consider talking to a healthcare provider.

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