Bags under eyes (eye bags), a mild swelling or puffiness under the eyes, are common with age. While some degree of puffiness may be normal for an individual, factors such as age and fatigue may make the swelling more prominent. The periorbital tissues are most noticeably swollen immediately after waking, perhaps due to the gravitational redistribution of fluid in the horizontal position.
With aging, the tissues around the eyes, including some of the muscles supporting the eyelids, weaken. Normal fat that helps support the eyes can then move into the lower eyelids, causing the lids to appear puffy. Fluid also may accumulate in the space below the eyes, adding to the swelling.
Bags under eyes are usually a cosmetic concern and rarely a sign of a serious underlying medical condition. At-home remedies, such as cool compresses, can help improve the appearance of bags under eyes. For persistent or bothersome under-eye puffiness, cosmetic treatments are available.
Bags under eyes can include these symptoms:
- Mild swelling,
- Saggy or loose skin,
- Dark circles.
Eye puffiness may also be caused by:
- Fluid retention,
- Alcohol and tobacco use,
- Skin disorders,
- Normal aging,
- Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism,
- Periorbital cellulitis,
- Chagas disease,
- Nephrotic syndrome,
- Tear glands,
- Superior vena cava obstruction,
- Cavernous sinus syndrome polyneuropathy.
Other factors can also lead to eye bags, including:
- Fluid retention due to changes in weather (for example, hot, humid days), hormone levels or eating salty foods,
- Not getting enough sleep,
- Allergies or dermatitis, especially if puffiness is accompanied by redness and itching
- Heredity — under-eye bags can run in families
Puffy eyes are usually only a temporary cosmetic worry, but occasionally, individuals become concerned about the cosmetic effect of periorbital swelling and seek surgical correction.
Complications may appear if the eyes are irritated or in case of eye infection.
The following tips can help reduce or eliminate bags under eyes:
- Use a cool compress. Wet a clean washcloth with cool water. While sitting up, apply the damp washcloth to the skin under and around your eyes for a few minutes using mild pressure.
- Get enough sleep at night. For most adults, seven to eight hours a night is a good amount of sleep.
- Sleep with your head slightly raised. Add an extra pillow or prop up the head of your mattress. Or elevate the entire head of the bed a few inches. This helps prevent fluids from accumulating around your eyes as you sleep.
- Reduce allergy symptoms. Avoid allergens when possible. Try over-the-counter allergy medications. Talk to your doctor about prevention strategies if you develop under-eye reactions due to hair dyes, soaps, cosmetics or other allergens.