What Causes Bags Under Eyes

You wake up. You look in the mirror. Your eyes have puffy, swollen areas below your eyes. These are commonly referred to as “bags.” What causes bags under the eyes? There are a variety of things. Two of the most common are lack of quality sleep and allergies. Age and heredity can also be factors.

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Common Causes for Bags Under Eyes

Perhaps women make a bigger deal out of bags under their eyes, but there is such a thing as bags under eyes men version. While the guys might not openly make as much of a fuss about it, men like to have a good appearance, as well. As with many things, knowing the cause is a step in the right direction for eye bag removal.

  • Lack of Quality Sleep. Lack of sleep is responsible for a variety of ailments, but it is a leading cause of puffy, swollen eyes. Eye strain and sleep loss can sometimes cause fluid retention. When it pools beneath your eyes, it can create those puffy bags or even swelling that extends down over the cheekbone.
  • Allergies cause a histamine reaction as your body does its best to ward off the irritant. Like lack of sleep, an allergy can cause fluid to collect creating that puffy, swollen look. With allergies, it might include redness or bloodshot eyes.
  • Crying for an Extended Time. A lengthy crying session might relieve your stress somewhat, but it will certainly add to that puffy, swollen eye look. Both the upper and lower lids might become swollen, red and uncomfortable.
  • Your eyes naturally have a little fat around them to help cushion your eyes and to shape the eyelids. Aging allows the flesh around the eyes to sag and droop, creating those unsightly bags beneath your eyes. In some cases, too much sagging and drooping can actually obscure vision.
  • Look at the other members of your family. Do they have bags under their eyes? If they do, chances are your bags are a natural heritage from your family. (Thanks, mom and dad.)
  • Yes, indeed, smoking tobacco or anything else can cause those saggy under-eye bags.
  • Alcoholic Beverages. A thimbleful of wine at bedtime might be good for your heart, but too much alcohol will have a detrimental effect on your complexion and has a good chance of making those nasty eyebags worse. Alcohol exacerbates dehydration and it also causes blood vessels to expand. Expanding blood vessels leads to swelling in just about anywhere in your body.
  • Computer Viewing. Whether you are working long hours or playing a video game that goes on all night, the results are the same: tired, strained eyes that could really use some rest. That rest could be simply leaving your computer for an hour or two and letting your eyes do something besides reading a screen, or it could mean getting some sleep. Either way, long hours in front of a computer creates eye strain, and eye strain can help create eye bags.
  • Eating Too Much Salt. Salty snacks can be a factor in water retention. Water retention causes swelling in all sorts of places on your body. If you have hypertension (high blood pressure) and have snacked for several hours on salty treats, you are setting yourself up for swollen ankles, hands and – yep, you guessed it – eye bags.
  • Eczema. Sometimes known as atopic dermatitis, eczema can cause an extra fold of skin to form beneath the eyes. Eczema can be responsible for a variety of untoward eye issues, so be sure to consult your doctor, especially if the symptoms are significant and prolonged.
  • Prolonged Sun Exposure. This is one cause that more men than women are likely to experience. Although the trend is changing, men are more likely to have those outdoor jobs that require long hours in strong sunlight. Women can have those jobs, too, as equal work opportunities become more available. In either case, using a good sunscreen before you go out is an excellent idea.
  • Symptoms of Liver, Kidney or Thyroid Disorders. Like many ordinary conditions, what causes bags under eyes can be a serious illness that just hasn’t quite shown up yet. In most cases, under eye bags have much more ordinary causes, but if you are experiencing other symptoms, as well, don’t hesitate to see your doctor.
  • Dental Problems. While it might seem a little odd, the roots for your upper teeth extend into your sinus areas. When you have an upper tooth that is becoming infected, it can invade the sinus cavity, causing swelling and pain. With just the right positioning, an infected tooth can cause swelling of the under eye.

Most medical websites agree that eye bag removal is often just a simple matter of getting enough sleep or removing allergens from your location. Bags under eyes in women or bags under eyes in men aren’t usually a serious condition. The big difference is that it is socially acceptable for women to wear makeup, whereas makeup for men is usually reserved to stage, film or video situations. That means it is a little harder for men to disguise the evidence of a sleepless night.

Common Sense Solutions for Ordinary Eye Bag Removal

In many cases, puffy eyes and eye bags will subside within an hour or two of waking up in the morning. Sometimes eye bag removal requires more stringent measures.

  • A Cool Cloth and Gentle Pressure. Upon waking up, or after a prolonged crying session, wet a soft cloth with cool water and press it gently on your eyes. Without pressing against the eyeball itself, put gentle pressure just below the eye where you can feel your cheekbones. This will encourage fluid that has collected there to move along. Be sure not to rub, as rubbing can irritate your skin and make it even puffier.
  • An Ice Pack. For stubborn but temporary puffiness, try using an icepack. Place ice or a bag of frozen peas or corn inside a towel. Place the towel shrouded icepack against the swollen area. If possible, close your eyes and relax for a few minutes.
  • Tea Bags. You can give your tired, puffy eyes a double whammy of feeling better by placing a cool, wet tea bag of either black or green tea over your eye. Avoid using herbal teas unless you are familiar with them and know the effect. For example, you don’t want to use peppermint tea bags on your eyes because they would make your eyes sting and burn. Nor do you want to use a tea such as Earl Grey because it contains bergamot, which is a member of the mint family. Plain, generic black or green tea is what you want. Tea contains caffeine and tannins that help constrict swollen blood vessels. The wet, cool tea bag is physically soothing, as well.
  • Get Some Sleep. Try going to bed at least 30 minutes earlier each night. Sleep is amazing stuff and can heal a great many things.
  • Elevate Your Head. Sometimes the swelling around your eyes indicates that you have a lot of fluid accumulating in your sinuses. By elevating your head a little, your sinus cavities might have a better chance to drain.
  • Remove Allergens from Your Sleeping Area. You might love your puppy or kitten just about more than anything, but that doesn’t mean that it is good for you to sleep with your furball. Even a mild allergy can give you those classic eyebags first thing in the morning.
  • Do Your Work and then Go Home. A lot has been written in the last few years about staying on task when you are at work. Whether you work in a standard office or you work from home, staying focused on the task at hand means fewer hours in front of an electronic screen, and therefore less eyestrain. Interrupting yourself to browse the internet or sneak in a game only slows down your work process and leads to more eyestrain.
  • Take an OTC Antihistamine. If you suffer from allergies, you probably already have some antihistamines on hand. While over-the-counter medications can be a mixed blessing, sometimes they are just what is needed. Histamines cause vascular increase in size (among other things) which can cause swelling. Antihistamines help shrink things back down to size.
  • Vitamin B or Retinal Creams. When applied gently to the puffy area, these creams help shrink swelling and reduce the inflammation. This not only makes your face look better but it helps relieve that itchy, uncomfortable feeling that goes along with the swelling and puffiness referred to as eye bags.
  • Visit Your Physician. While no one truly loves going to the doctor, there are times when that is the right response to a situation. If the bags under your eyes are persistent and uncomfortable, your doctor is just the person you should see. He or she will know the next step you should take to alleviate those worrisome bags under your eyes, and can run a few tests to see if something more serious than lack of sleep or allergies is at work.

If it looks like those troubling bags under your eyes are something serious, he or she will then direct you on to the specialist who can help you find a more permanent solution. You might next talk with an optometrist, a plastic surgeon, or ENT specialist or even an endocrinologist because there are a wide variety of conditions for which bags under the eyes can be a symptom. You can also read about some at home practical tips here and home remedies here.

Recapping the Causes for Eyebags

Eyebags are one of those things that are probably most noticed by us when we are doing our morning grooming. Often they will subside in an hour or two after waking up. Sometimes they need a little more encouragement to go away, such as cold compresses or even an ice pack. If the cause is allergies, an over the counter antihistamine will often help. Better yet, removing the allergen from your sleeping environment could go a long way toward making things better.

Women can often hide or disguise eyebags or shadows by using makeup. When it comes to eye bag removal or disguise, it is a little harder for men to hide eyebags since they don’t customarily wear makeup unless it is in a theatrical situation. Creams or lotions that can help shrink the puffy tissue can help, however.

There are many commonsense methods for soothing swollen eye tissues. Most of them involve placing something cool and soothing on a closed eyelid and perhaps applying gentle pressure on the affected area. What you do not want to do is rub the area because that can make the irritation worse.

While not trying to be judgmental in any way, there is something to be said for clean living. Both alcohol and caffeine have deleterious effects on your complexion, whether you are a man or a woman. Taking Mr. Ben Franklin’s advice of “early to bed” doesn’t hurt, either. While in today’s twenty-four hour a day work environment, it might not make you wealthy or wise, but getting more sleep will definitely help shrink those eyebags while helping the rest of you as well.

Finally, while most of the time eyebags are a temporary response to ordinary things, there are cases where eyebags are part of an overall symptom of more serious conditions. As with many things, if your common sense home remedy eye bag removal doesn’t seem to be working, and if the condition persists beyond a reasonable time, then it is time to call in the experts. There are some serious medical conditions for which puffy eyes can be one of the many telltale symptoms that help alert you and your doctor that it is time to run some tests and find out what is really going on.

A Few Final Words on What Causes Eyebags

Eyebags can have many causes. They are primarily created when the blood vessels in the area below the eye become enlarged, or when fat tissues sag with age. Home remedies and common sense work most of the time, but don’t hesitate to call in the experts if it seems as if they are part of a larger health pattern.

You can also click here if you are interested in learning more about different treatments for bags under eyes.



  1. October 27, 2019
  2. December 11, 2019

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