Puffy eyes are often the first thing we see when we look at ourselves in the mirror when we wake up. Many of us groan in dismay – puffy eyes can completely offset the care and attention we put into the rest of our appearance. Why can't our eyes appear alert and refreshed like how we actually feel in the morning (sometimes anyway)?
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get rid of puffy eyes, and many of them are as easy as sipping some more water throughout the day. Let’s dive deep into this issue for a better understanding.
What Causes Puffy Eyes and Dark Circles?
Puffy eyes and dark circles aren’t conditions that just appear out of nowhere. Like almost everything, there are several reasons why you might suffer from puffy eyes more than your friends or family.
All eye swelling or puffiness is the result of edema, the scientific term for the accumulation of too much fluid in your eyes’ skin tissue. Since the skin around your eyes is naturally very thin, swelling can occur without as much fluid accumulation compared to other spots on your body. Thin skin there is a good thing, though, since it helps our eyes be as expressive and flexible as they are!
Fluid accumulation, and the resulting puffiness, can be caused by all kinds of things:
- Lack of sleep. This is the number one cause for puffy eyes. In a nutshell, when you don’t get enough sleep, the tissue around your eyes doesn’t get the restorative nutrients and other stuff it needs to repair itself from daily activity. In response, your skin’s blood vessels widen, making the skin puffy throughout the day to compensate.
- Aging. As we get older, the skin beneath our eyes gradually becomes thinner and thinner. This means that the amount of fluid necessary for puffiness becomes lower and lower. Plus, fluid retention in general becomes more likely as you get older.
- Stress can do a number on the body, and that includes the tissue around your eyes.
- Dehydration can also cause puffy eyes as your blood vessels puff up your skin to compensate for lack of nutrition and moisture.
- Seasonal or regular allergies. These often cause puffy eyes temporarily, but the condition normally fades when the allergen is removed or if you take an allergy medication.
- Genetics. Sometimes, folks just draw the short stick and get eye puffiness as a genetic feature instead of a temporary condition. Ask your mom and dad whether they have puffy eyes all the time to see if you might be susceptible to long-term puffiness.
While crying can also cause puffy eyes, this isn’t the same condition. Fluid does build up, but the puffiness should go away in a relatively short amount of time.
What About When You Wake Up?
Many people experience daily eye puffiness as soon as they wake up. But there’s a simple scientific explanation for this.
While you sleep, you aren’t blinking. Blinking circulates fluid around the tissue of your eyes. If your eyes don’t blink for an extended period (like over the course of a good night’s rest), fluid can accumulate at the bottom tissue around your eyes. Of course, as soon as you wake up and begin blinking again, the puffiness will gradually dissipate.
Puffy Eye Remedies
There is some good news – you aren’t stuck with having dark or puffy eyes all day. In fact, there are tons of excellent natural remedies and solutions out there that can dispel your puffy eyes in no time.
Sometimes the best way to combat chronic puffy eyes is to make a big lifestyle change. The great thing about adopting many of these changes is that they come with additional benefits.
Drink More Water and Get More Sleep
These two are big ones. In today’s hectic society, many of us forgo sleep and forget to drink enough water in favor of getting ahead at work or rushing from activity to activity. But, good sleep and proper hydration are crucial not only to get rid of puffy eyes, but also for your general wellness.
Six hours (or even five) do not constitute a good night’s rest, despite what many workaholics might tell you. Average adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep per night, almost without exception.
The best way to get enough sleep, if you aren’t already, is to really put some effort in making it a regular habit. Make a promise to yourself and commit to going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning. Your body will gradually acclimate to this new routine and you’ll feel a lot better, plus experience less eye puffiness, too.
Drinking enough water is even simpler. You can do this pretty easily by replacing other beverages throughout the day with just plain water--even flavored water is a better choice than soda or juice. Make sure that you drink at least a few bottles of water each day, plus a little more if you live in a dry climate, and you’ll be set.
Sometimes, the best way to fight puffy eyes is to directly tackle the problem through a topical solution.
Have Allergies? Try These Natural Remedies!
If you have puffy eyes as a result of allergies, you can speak to your doctor about allergy medication, or get an over the counter allergy medication. These medications can calm down your body’s inflammatory response to certain allergens, like pollen or dust, and reduce your eyes’ puffiness over time.
You can also use some essential oils for aromatherapy or topical application, like tea tree oil, which is a known soothing agent.
Use Cucumber Slices and Chilled Tea Bags
This might sound silly, but it works! Cucumber slices can cool and soothe the skin around your eyes, as well as provide vital nutrients and moisture to skin that might be starved of both. Chilled tea bags work in much the same way, and certain varieties of teas come with extra helpful elements, like antioxidants.
In either case, place them on your eyes for anywhere from a few minutes up to a half-hour and you’ll reap the results.
Salves & Eye Creams
Topical eye creams and salves can be purchased at stores or with a doctor’s prescription. In either case, they might help reduce swelling by giving your skin additional vitamins and nutrients or acting as a direct soothing agent.
Some eye creams contain caffeine and other ingredients that can tighten the skin around your eyes, making it appear younger and healthier as a bonus.
Whatever you end up getting, eye creams or salves that utilize natural ingredients can usually offer more benefits than just helping to ease puffy eyes. Green Goo’s Skin Repair Salve is a great example: it combines vitamin E, aloe vera, coconut oil, and other ingredients to moisturize and repair the skin.
You may be able to get rid of puffy eyes by making some changes to your daily diet, too.
Limit or Avoid Alcohol
Since puffy eyes are often the result of dehydration of the skin around your eyes, it makes sense to limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol dehydrates you over time.
Eat Less Salt
Similarly, salt can dehydrate your body or cause extra fluid retention. The trouble is that many modern foods and drinks you can buy from the store are filled with extra salt to improve their flavor. Many prepackaged foods, such as instant soups or microwave meals, are particularly high in sodium. Try to cut back on salt by eating healthier, fresher foods made with natural ingredients, and you’ll feel better overall and will experience less puffiness around your eyes.
Eat More Potassium
It might also be a good idea to eat more potassium! This vital mineral is needed not only for daily health, but also reduces fluid buildup throughout the body. You can easily add more potassium to your diet by eating healthy foods like leafy greens, bananas, and yogurt.
When Should You Contact a Doctor?
If none of the above remedies actually help with your puffy eyes and you’re concerned that you have a medical condition, it’s never a bad idea to talk to a doctor. Puffy eyes in general are not usually a sign of a lasting medical condition, but you should talk to your doctor if your puffy eyes last for days without dissipating or if you experience extra symptoms like:
- Blindness or blurriness
- Pink eye, also called conjunctivitis
- Drooping eyelids, or ptosis
In most cases, many of the above natural remedies or lifestyle changes can help you get rid of puffy eyes after a few hours or a day, but you should seek help if the puffiness isn’t going away.
In the end, getting rid of puffy eyes will likely be a progressive effort. You may need to try a few solutions before you find the one that sticks. Starting with a solid foundation built on plenty of sleep, water, and a healthy diet will not only add to the success of other remedies, but also aid your wellness in general!