Puffy Eyes

Have you ever had some well-meaning person tell you how tired you look? Or how they can just see your exhaustion in your eyes? Well, what they really mean is that you look like crap. And your eyes? They’re not some deep look into your soul — they’re just surrounded by baggy, saggy, puffy pieces of flesh. And you probably want to do something about that…unless you’ve got a good reason for it, in which case you probably just want coffee or an anti-histamine.

Getting rid of puffy eyes is not that hard, but it helps to figure out what the root cause is.

Puffy eyes can result from illness, hangovers, hormone fluctuations, allergies, and, yes, exhaustion. They can be itchy, red, and swollen to the point of discomfort. For some people, puffy or baggy eyes are a hereditary trait, and must be accepted as such. For everyone else, the steps below should be helpful in identifying the causes getting rid of puffy eyes.

Causes of Puffy Eyes

Puffy eyes can be caused by a number of things, but most have to do, either directly or indirectly, with either your body's fluid retention or your natural body rhythms being knocked out of whack.  Here are a few of the things known to cause those puffy-looking eyes.

Water retention
Lack of sleep
Hormonal fluctuation
High sodium levels
Emotional crying
Too much alcohol

Puffy Eyes In the Morning

The area around your eyes are often puffy in the morning because fluid builds up while you are in a horizontal, static position during sleep.  It is a little like a puddle being formed after it rains.  The fluid pools in various parts, and the area around your eyes is a common spot.

This kind of fluid-build up can impact more than just your eyes — in more extreme cases, it can be a cause for broader facial puffiness and even the appearance of neck fat — but having some fluid build-up around the eye sockets in the morning is actually very common.

The good news is that the fluid will drain once you wake up and are vertical for a while, but it can take a while.  Be sure to wake up with enough time before your meetings or commitments to allow the fluid to drain.  Better yet, if you are a workout person, consider doing it 1st thing in the morning to help the draining process.

Puffy Eyes from Drinking Alcohol

While some alcohol may have negligible or even positive effects on your body, a night of heavy drinking wreaks havoc on many body parts.  Your liver works overtime, your blood pressure can spike, and your body is so fully of toxins that you get headaches.  Alcohol also causes bloating, and that bloating commonly causes a distinctly puffy face and puffy eyes.

Reducing your drinking and alcohol intake will have many health benefits, including reducing puffiness around your eyes.  If you have trouble with not drinking, seek help.  It is a more common problem than you might realize.

puffy eyes medical

Puffy Eyes from Medical Conditions

Puffy eyes can sometimes be caused by an underlying medical condition. High blood pressure could be caused by fluid retention, which then has a very negative effect on your health.  Other systems that are involved in the intricate balance of fluid management include your lymphatic system, heart, kidneys, and your entire hormonal system.  If any of those area not operating well, you might be retaining fluid.

If your fluid retention and puffy eyes is persistent, getting worse, and you have been getting plenty of sleep and water, and avoiding alcohol, consider a visit to your doctor.  He or she may be able to help identify if you have an underlying issue that needs to be treated.

Best Ways to Get Rid of Puffy Eyes

get rid of puffy eyes

Cool the Skin

When skin cools, it tightens.  For that reason, cooler skin on any part of your body will generally be tighter and leaner-looking.

Cool the swollen skin around your eyes to reduce puffiness. Do this with chilled eye and face creams (keep them in the fridge), an ice cube wrapped in a paper towel, chilled spoons, a cool wet washcloth, chilled left-over herbal tea bags, or strips of potato, cucumber, or strawberry. The applied cold will reduce swelling, and can be used as often as is comfortable to get rid of puffy eyes. You can also try cloth backed gel cold packs sold at Amazon.

When you see people at spas laying with cucumber slices over their eyes, this is why.

Avoid Rubbing the Eyes

Avoid excessive rubbing or drying of your eyes to get rid of puffiness. The skin around your eyes is extremely sensitive, and repeated touching of your eyes can not only irritate the them, but also worsen allergies — and both can lead to puffy eyes.  Think about how when you rub your skin — let’s say on your arm — it tends to redden and get irritated. Same thing happens to your eyes, but even more because the skin there is so thin.

Do your best to not rub your skin — easier said than done, we know!  Also remember to take your contact lenses out before bed each night to avoid irritation and drying and the resulting puffiness.

Get Regular Sleep

Lack of sleep just might be the most common culprit for puffy eyes.  Get regular sleep to get rid of puffy eyes, and make sure that you don’t skimp on sleep too many nights in a row. It’s important to not only get a healthy amount (7-9 hours) of sleep each night, but to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each night and morning. This keeps your body regulated and rested, which in turn keeps your physical appearance healthy; this includes healthy-looking, un-baggy eyes.

The challenge here, we realize, is that it can be hard to sleep the night before some major events where you do not want puffy eyes — a wedding, a big meeting, important date, etc.  But do your best, and make sure you allow enough time for your body to really unwind.


Trying to detox your body has many health benefits, ranging from improving your immunity to helping your overall digestion to giving you more energy. But you may not have known that puffy eyes can also be reduced by detoxifying your body. A good detox will improve your skin and reduce inflammation, two key contributors to getting rid of those puffy eyes.

There are many ways to detox, but we especially like the Red Tea Detox. Not only will you help eliminate your puffy eyes, but there is a good chance you will lose a few pounds of fat in the process.

Drink Water

This might seem counter-intuitive, but it is 100% true.  Lack of water can cause puffy-looking eyes.  You would think that having less fluid in your body would reduce puffiness, but it is not so!

Drink plenty of water to get rid of puffy eyes. When your body becomes dehydrated (maybe after a night of heavy drinking or an extended illness) it stores water as a defense mechanism. This built-up water can contribute to baggy or puffy eyes, so drinking the recommended 8-10 glasses of water will reduce water build-up and alleviate baggy eyes.

Cut Down on Salt

Cut down on your salt intake to get rid of puffy eyes. Eating lots of salt can cause water retention in your body (just like dehydration), so reducing your salt intake can in turn reduce your puffy eyes, as well as reduce swelling in other parts of your body.

What foods are salty?  More than you might assume.  In particular, try to avoid excessive Mexican food, lunch meats, and highly-processed foods in general.  Lots of foods that seam healthy from a caloric and fat standpoint make up for it by loading up on the sodium.  As with almost everything, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats tend to be the best options for people on a low-sodium diet.

Wake Up Earlier

This one might need  a little explaining.

You of course do not want to wake up earlier at the expense of getting enough sleep.  But if you can manage getting enough rest while shifting your sleep schedule forward a bit, it could have positive effects overall.  Why?  Because your body usually has puffier eyes early in the morning due to fluid pooling in certain parts of your body while you sleep.  Being up and vertical for a period of time will help that fluid drain.  It doesn’t happen all at once.

If you need to be someone at 8am and want to look great with no puffiness, don’t wake up at the last minute.  Give yourself at least a couple hours to move around, drink fluids, and allow the fluid around your eyes to drain.

Get Rid of Allergies

Your puffy eyes may very well be caused by allergies.  Seasonal allergies, especially pollen, can cause puffy eyes.  This tends to be especially common in children.  If you sense that pollen season is causing the skin around your eyes to become inflamed, you can take some short-term and longer-term steps.

Highly-irritated eyes can be initially treated by trying to rinse out your eyes and areas around them.  If you need to take further action, Claritin (here on Amazon) can be very effective for allergy-swollen eyes.  Remember to use only as directed, and consult a physician with any questions.

Further Treatment for Puffy Eyes

If your puffy eyes don’t get better with creams or cold treatment, you may be suffering from a severe allergic reaction, or some other condition that requires medical attention. You can try over the counter allergy medications such as Claritin, or a doctor may be able to prescribe a stronger antihistamine such as Zyrtec.

Sometimes puffy eyes are simply a physical, genetic trait. If puffy eyes run in your family you may not be able to get rif of your puffy eyes. If this is the case, you can use methods of concealing and covering your puffy eyes with makeup and other facial creams.

Best Alternative Ways to Get Rid of Puffy Eyes

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera gel is a popular treatment for skin conditions known for its soothing and moisturizing benefits. You can use creams or moisturizers that contain aloe vera, or you can use aloe vera in a pure and natural gel form to soothe and diminish your puffy eyes. You can get 100% Aloe Vera Gel from Amazon.

Creams and Masks

Make natural creams and cooling masks for your eyes out of household items like yogurt, cucumbers, strawberries, kiwis, and other fruits. Mash them up to create a creamy substance, or apply thin slices to cool the puffy areas. Be sure not to use any material you might be allergic to, though; this will only make your puffy eyes worse.

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About the Author

Julianne Ragland

Julianne Ragland