Eye bags, those droopy bits of sagging skin below our eyes, can be downright cruel. They make us look older and more tired than we are, and those misimpressions can affect our personal and business relationships.
Fortunately, several proven solutions exist for eye bags. Severe cases may require surgery, but most eye bags can be treated at home using simple techniques and minor lifestyle adjustments. This article describes a dozen proven remedies for eye bags that don’t require a trip to the surgeon.
What Are Eye Bags?
Eye bags are the puffy areas that sometimes form in the periorbital skin beneath the eyes. They are typically blamed on a lack of sleep, but fatigue is only one of many causes of eye bags.
Eye bags are nearly always a benign problem, and are only rarely associated with more serious medical conditions. As eager as patients might be to resolve their eye bags, there is no medical reason to resolve them surgically when milder methods may be just as effective, and may convey health benefits of their own.
Most cases of eye bags involve the buildup of fluid beneath the eyes. These cases are often easily dealt with. Some cases of eye bags, though, especially those found in older patients, have more complex causes and require more intensive therapy (and sometimes surgery).
As with many conditions affecting the skin, age is a factor. The skin immediately beneath the eye is especially delicate, and is prone to weakening more quickly than surrounding tissue as we age. A layer of fatty tissue normally resides immediately under the eye, and helps to support it. This fatty layer is in turn supported by the periorbital skin beneath the eye; when this periorbital tissue weakens, it can allow the fatty tissue to fall down to the area beneath the lower eyelid, creating a puffy, baggy appearance. Fluid often builds up along with the fatty tissue, exacerbating the problem.
The leading causes of eye bags include:
- Alcohol and tobacco use
- High-sodium diet
- Fluid retention due to pregnancy or medical conditions
Eye bags have always plagued us, so it’s no wonder that folk wisdom and science alike have discovered a host of proven approaches to relieving puffy eyes. Here are twelve of the best methods.
Getting Rid of Eye Bags
Most of us have dealt with eye bags at one time or another. Some of us have our own home remedies, and we all know someone who swears by this or that cure. Here are twelve approaches to resolving eye bags that have actually been proven to work.
Discover the Cause
It seems like simple common sense, but many people rush to treat their eye bags before pausing to consider why they developed in the first place. That sort of reaction can mask the real cause, costing patients time, effort, and frustration while doing nothing to improve their appearance.
Most cases of eye bags are due to lack of sleep. While it can seem difficult to carve out enough time in the day for sleep—some people even brag about how little sleep they get—the health benefits are worth it. If after a few weeks of sufficient sleep a patient’s eye bags still haven’t improved, the cause is almost certainly a matter of diet, lifestyle, genetics, or an underlying medical condition.
Get Enough Sleep, Each and Every Night
The medical community differs a bit on how many hours of sleep we need each night, but the consensus is that adults need at least six hours of sleep every day. This is the minimum amount of sleep our bodies need to complete the entire sleep cycle, to repair damaged tissues, and to restore organs and tissues to their healthiest possible state. When this work is interrupted or foreshortened, it shows: as fatigue, as lack of focus and concentration, and as fluid retention under the eyes.
Patients suffering from eye bags should establish a healthy sleep schedule and stick with it for at least three weeks. In many cases, this alone is enough to resolve puffy eyes, and the side benefits are awfully good, too.
Avoid Sleeping in the Wrong Position
Like the rest of the face, the periorbital area is constantly battling gravity. This becomes a losing battle when patients sleep on their sides or stomachs, with their heads below heart level. Adding an extra pillow and avoiding stomach-sleeping can alleviate puffiness under the eyes, especially in older patients.
Drink Enough Water…and Then Drink a Bit More
Most of us don’t drink enough water. We can become dehydrated before our thirst drives us to drink something, and when that something is a soda or a cup of coffee, it can make the problem even worse. When our bodies are dehydrated, they tend to hold on to the fluids they already have, which leads to the fluid buildup responsible for eye bags.
Most doctors suggest that we drink at least half a liter of water every day, and that’s just a rough suggestion. Some people naturally need more water to stay adequately hydrated, and warm climates may demand considerably more hydration.
Cut Down on Sodium, and Eat More Collagen-Producing Foods
Salt promotes fluid retention throughout the body, and for most people the surest sign of fluid retention is puffy eyes. Reducing the intake of sodium—there’s no need even to try to cut salt entirely out of a patient’s diet—can provide immediate relief from eye puffiness. It also pays some impressive dividends: lowering sodium can help patients sleep more readily and more soundly, reduce blood pressure, and lower the strain that high sodium levels place on the kidneys.
Replacing some salty foods with collagen-boosting ones can help to shore up delicate periorbital skin. Collagen is the body’s most abundant protein; in the skin, it provides structure and firmness. Fish and vegetables naturally stimulate the production of collagen, which tends to wane as we age.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
Like the suggestions regarding sleep, diet, and hydration, limiting the consumption of alcohol can resolve puffy eyes while delivering more significant health benefits. Alcohol causes dehydration and disrupts the sleep cycle. Drinkers worried about eye bags (and those who aren’t) should practice moderation, and should be sure to drink plenty of water along with their other potables. An extra glass or two of water before bedtime can go a long way toward a good night’s sleep.
This is good advice for anyone, and for a host of obvious reasons. Smoking weakens the skin, and delicate areas like the region under the eyes show such damage first. It also dehydrates the skin, which can lead to fluid retention. It might be reason 2,402 on your list, but there you have it. Now quit smoking. You can do it.
Use Eye Cream
A more direct form of hydration can come from eye cream. This soothes sore eyelids while supplying hydration in a form that doesn’t cause puffiness and discoloration. Liberally applied, eye cream also hydrates surrounding tissues, making them fuller and diminishing the extent to which puffy lower eyelids stand out from neighboring skin.
Protect Your Eyes from UV Radiation
The ultraviolet radiation found in sunlight can damage skin, causing it to age prematurely and setting the stage for stubborn eye bags. Sunscreen is especially helpful in protecting delicate skin like that found under the eyes. Sunglasses may help as well, but only if they are designed to combat UV radiation.
Try Frozen Tea Bags or a Wet Spoon
These remedies have been around for generations, and for good reason. Chilling the skin constricts the blood vessels serving it, and the tissues responsible for retaining fluid. While patients wait for their revised sleep schedules and hydration routines to relieve their symptoms, cooling the affected areas can provide some immediate benefits. Kitchen cupboards aren’t the only source for this treatment: reusable eye masks, cooled in the refrigerator and worn overnight, are also available.
Patients who have been diagnosed with allergies should be aware that allergic reactions may cause eye bags. Patients who have tried many of the other approaches listed here might want to visit a qualified allergist to see if a reaction is responsible for their eyes’ puffiness.
When All Else Fails, Conceal Your Eye Bags
Most remedies for eye bags take a bit of time. Even dehydration takes a day or two of proper water consumption before the body registers the effect. But once in a while, we need a quicker fix than that. If an important meeting or event demands an immediate improvement, patients should know that concealers are available that discreetly match any skin tone. Some people know this already; others, especially men, may not have considered it. More and more men, though, are using cosmetics to conceal blemishes and pigmentation issues like those associated with eye bags.
Most of us are susceptible to eye bags, and most of us don’t follow the guidance above as perfectly as we should. Doing so, though, gives nearly everyone their best chance of preserving a lively, alert, confident appearance. And improved health, to boot.