puffy eyes
Allergies can cause the blood vessels in your eyes to dilate, making them appear puffy.TanyaLovus/Getty Images
  • Puffy eyes may be the result of a lack of sleep, crying, or dehydration.
  • Your eyes may also appear puffy if you've been eating too much salt or drinking alcohol.
  • If your eyes are puffy from aging, you can try laser resurfacing, dermal fillers, or plastic surgery.
  • Visit Insider's Health Reference library for more advice.

While puffy eyes aren't typically a cause for alarm, they can be an aesthetic concern for some people. Puffy eyes can be a result of anything from a lack of sleep to genetics, and depending on the cause, different courses of action can be taken to relieve your puffiness.

Here are eight reasons why you might have puffy eyes, and how to get rid of them.

1. Lack of sleep

When you don't get enough sleep, the blood vessels around your eyes may dilate — meaning that they get wider. These dilated blood vessels can also leak fluid, which can build up under the skin.

This combination of widened blood vessels and a buildup of leakage can cause the area around your eyes to appear swollen and puffy. Plus, it doesn't help that your eyelid skin is very thin, so anything going on underneath the surface is more apparent, says Brian Hibler, MD, board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group.

How to fix it: While it's easier said than done, be sure to get enough sleep each night. Adults should aim to clock seven to nine hours of shut-eye. Hibler says sleeping with your head elevated and applying cool compresses in the morning can help, too.

2. Allergies

When you come in contact with something you're allergic to, your body releases histamines –– natural chemicals that are responsible for allergy symptoms –– to try to protect you from the allergens. 

These histamines make your blood vessels dilate and become more permeable, allowing for fluid to leak out and cause swelling, says Vicente Diaz, MD, ophthalmologist at Yale Medicine and assistant professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences at Yale School of Medicine. 

In addition to puffiness, these broken blood vessels may also make your eyes appear red. 

How to fix it: Other than avoiding known allergens, taking an antihistamine is the best way to relieve allergy symptoms, since they counteract the effects of histamines. Commonly used antihistamines include:

  • Benadryl
  • Zyrtec
  • Claritin
  • Allegra

3. Crying

When you cry, there's more blood flow to the area around the eyes, Diaz says. This may stress the blood vessels in the area, causing them to leak. 

"The excess fluid underneath the skin can create swelling, which makes the area around the eyes appear puffy," says Diaz.

How to fix it: Once you've stopped crying, applying a cool compress to your eyes can help reduce puffiness.

4.  Consuming too much sodium

You should only be consuming up to 2,300 mg of sodium a day. But if you consume much more than this, your body may retain more water than usual. This can cause a bloated appearance everywhere, including the eyes and face, says Diaz.

How to fix it: Limiting your sodium intake can help prevent puffy eyes in the future. You can cut back on sodium by:

  • Tracking the sodium content of what you eat and drink
  • Limiting high-sodium foods like canned soup 
  • Preparing your own meals instead of eating packaged processed food

6. Dehydration

Water helps keep your body's electrolytes balanced and is essential for healthy skin, Diaz says. If you're not getting enough water, this can have negative effects on your health and even your appearance. "When the body is dehydrated, sodium becomes more concentrated and can cause fluid to accumulate in certain places such as the face and eyes," says Diaz.

How to fix it: Be sure to drink enough fluids throughout the day. Men should aim for 125 fluid ounces per day, and women should drink around 91 fluid ounces. 

5. Drinking alcohol

The damage that alcohol does is twofold: In addition to causing dehydration, it can also make your blood vessels dilate. The combinations of these can cause a puffy or bloated appearance, says Diaz.

How to fix it: Limit your alcohol intake and be sure to stay hydrated by drinking water as well if you're having alcoholic beverages. According to the CDC, drinking in moderation is defined as two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. If you wake up with puffy eyes after a long sleepless night of drinking, try using a cool compress.

7. Aging 

When you age, your skin has less and less collagen and elastin, which are proteins responsible for the firmness and resilience of your skin.

As a result, the ligaments around your eyes become thinned and stretched, and tissue begins to sag. The end product is hollowing and puffy bags under the eyes, Hibler says.

How to fix it: There are a couple of options of in-office dermatological treatments that may help with this, such as:

  • Laser resurfacing: This helps stimulate collagen production and tightens the skin around the eye, says Hilber. As a bonus, this will reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Dermal fillers: Injectable under-eye fillers can help restore a more youthful look, Hilber says. However, to maintain the look, you will need follow-up procedures every six to18 months.
  • Plastic surgery: Eyelid plastic surgery, known as a blepharoplasty, can remove fatty deposits that may be causing your puffiness. This can be a permanent solution for puffy eyes due to fat deposits.

8. Genetics

Certain people are simply more prone to have puffy eyes or eye bags due to genetics. "Some individuals have more prominent fat pads below the eyes leading to a more prominent appearance," says Hibler.

How to fix it: Similar to puffiness due to aging, dermal fillers or plastic surgery are effective options.

Insider's takeaway

Whether your puffy eyes are due to lack of sleep, dehydration, or genetics, there are both simple and more drastic solutions available for you. 

Lifestyle changes like getting enough sleep and drinking enough fluids can make a difference, but if you need more serious treatments, be sure to see an experienced board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

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