5 min

How to get rid of bags under your eyes

Bags under eyes affect most people

Bags under eyes are a widespread cosmetic concern, affecting most people at some point in their lives. They are caused by various factors, including genetics, ageing, lack of sleep, diet, and stress. They can also be symptoms of an underlying medical condition, such as allergies, sinusitis, or fluid retention.

While not usually harmful, bags under the eyes can be unsightly and affect a person's self-esteem. This article discusses several available treatments to reduce the appearance of bags under the eyes, ranging from lifestyle changes to cosmetic procedures.

Dark Circles Under Eyes - Causes & Treatment

“Bags under the eyes are caused by various factors, including genetics, ageing, lack of sleep, diet, and stress”

When do you get bags under eyes?

  • Ageing: As we age, the skin around the eyes becomes thinner and loses elasticity, which can cause it to sag and form bags.
  • Genetics: Some people are more prone to developing bags under the eyes, likely due to inherited traits.
  • Sleep: When you don't get enough sleep, the skin around the eyes can appear puffy and swollen, contributing to the appearance of bags.
  • Allergies: Allergic reactions can cause the skin around the eyes to inflame, leading to swelling and bags.

Why do you get bags under eyes? (Cont.)

  • Dehydration: When dehydrated, the skin around your eyes can appear sunken and saggy, contributing to the appearance of bags.
  • Salt intake: Eating a diet high in salt can result in fluid retention, making the skin around the eyes appear puffy and swollen.
  • Smoking: Smoking can contribute to the formation of bags under the eyes by reducing blood flow to the skin and damaging the skin's elasticity.
  • Sun exposure: Sun damage can cause the skin around the eyes to become thin and saggy, forming bags.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as dermatitis, dermatomyositis, renal disease and thyroid eye disease.

“Smoking can contribute to the formation of bags under the eyes by reducing blood flow to the skin and damaging the skin's elasticity”

How to prevent and reduce the appearance of bags under eyes

  • Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. It can also help reduce the appearance of bags and dark circles under the eyes. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

  • Add an extra pillow or prop up the head of your mattress. This helps prevent fluid from accumulating around your eyes as you sleep.

  • Try to limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol causes your body to dehydrate, which in turn causes your organs (which includes your skin) to 'fight back' by retaining water.

  • After boiling tea bags in hot water, let them cool down in the fridge, then gently place them over your closed eyes. The caffeine's antioxidant properties will help boost blood circulation around your eyes.

  • When your eyes are dry, cucumbers help hydrate them - reducing dryness and redness. You can also use potatoes slices.

  • Put some (clean) spoons in the fridge overnight or for half an hour in a freezer. Gently massage the back of the spoon over and around your eyes for about 10-15 minutes. The spoons will help drain fluid pooling under your eyes and minimise puffiness.

  • Use a preservative-free eye sprays and drops to keep your eyes well moisturised. The majority of patients with dry eye have chronic inflammation (swelling) in the tear glands (lacrimal glands) that line the eyelid and in the conjunctiva (the thin lining on the inside of the eyelids and the front part of the eye).

  • Assuming you have no medical restrictions, aim to drink about 2 litres of water daily, but reduce drinking fluids before bedtime.

  • Eat a balanced diet that contains foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Fresh fish, nuts, seeds, etc.

  • Smoking has been shown to weaken the skin under your eyes and reduce blood flow to the skin around the eyes, damaging the skin's elasticity.

  • If you think an allergy causes swelling under your eyes, ask your doctor, GP or pharmacist about allergy medication.

  • Foods and diets high in salt can give you fluid retention, and make the skin around the eyes appear puffy and swollen.

  • The skin around our eyes is very thin and fragile. Adding a high-quality cream to your daily routine will help hydrate, nourish and protect the area.

  • If you wish to mask your under-eye bags, try using makeup.

  • Try some eye exercises. Scroll down and read 'HOW TO RELAX YOUR EYES'.

  • Prevent bags under eyes naturally

    At-home treatment

    • Cold compresses reduce inflammation and swelling by reducing blood flow. Use anything cold (ice pack, frozen vegetables, cold cucumber slices or spoons) over closed eyes for a few minutes.

    • Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor (constricting blood vessels) which reduces swelling. You could also try putting cold tea bags (caffeinated) on your closed eyes.

    Anti-wrinkle treatments

    Various wrinkle treatments can improve the appearance of puffiness under the eyes - including laser resurfacing, chemical peels and fillers. These can improve skin tone, tighten the skin and rejuvenate the under-eye area.

    If you have darker skin, laser resurfacing can cause permanent changes in skin colour - hyperpigmentation (darkened skin colour) or hypopigmentation (lightened skin colour). Your doctor or dermatologist can advise you on the risks of laser resurfacing.

    Protect Your Eyes While Wearing Makeup

    “Sun damage can cause the skin around the eyes to become thin and saggy, forming bags”

    Eyelid Surgery - Blepharoplasty

    Depending on what's causing the eye bags, eyelid surgery, known as blepharoplasty (pronounced 'BLEF-uh-roe-plas-tee'), could be a final treatment option. It's a highly specialised procedure, usually done as a day case under local anaesthetic. There can be side effects and complications - from dry, watery eyes to bleeding and potentially sight loss.

    Blepharoplasty removes excess fat inside the lower eyelids. It can also repair:

    • Baggy or puffy upper eyelids.
    • Taking excess skin off the upper eyelid - if it interferes with your vision.
    • 'Fixing' droopy or removing excess skin on the lower eyelids.

    The different types of bags under eyes

  • This is where fluid accumulates in the tissues surrounding the eyes, causing swelling and puffiness. Various factors, including allergies, hormonal changes, and certain medical conditions can cause it.

  • The skin around the eyes is thin and delicate; over time, the fat that usually surrounds the eye can begin to bulge and cause bags. This is more likely to occur as we age and our skin loses elasticity.

  • The lymphatic system helps to remove waste and fluid from the body, but when it becomes congested, fluid can accumulate in the tissues and cause swelling, including under the eyes.

  • In some cases, bags under the eyes can also be caused by medical conditions, such as an infection, an autoimmune disorder, or a hormonal imbalance.

  • “Bags under your eyes shouldn’t be confused with dark circles. These blue-like rings are caused by tiny blood vessels bursting under your eyes.”

    How to Relax Your Eyes

  • When we’re looking at screens, our blinking is incomplete and less frequent, which could lead to dry eyes. Avoid eye strain by blinking consciously, keeping your eyes closed for half a second before reopening. Repeat this about 20 times and you’ll notice that your eyes start feeling fresher as they rebuild their natural hydration.

  • Sit with your back straight and, without moving your head, slowly and purposefully roll your eyes in a clockwise direction, starting with the left, then to the ceiling, then to the right and finally look at the floor. Repeat this 10 times. And then reverse the roll (i.e. counterclockwise). This exercise will help with eye fatigue.

  • Looking away from your computer screen every 20 minutes at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds helps to reduce strain and fatigue on your eye muscles. This is known as the 20-20-20 rule.

  • You’ll need to use a screen (or a picture) for this exercise. Place the screen (tablet or computer) in front of you. Without taking your eyes off the, try to locate and touch all the objects around you (a glass of water, notebook, stationery etc.). Then, interact with the screen without losing sight of objects in your peripheral vision.

  • A gentle massage is a really effective way of relaxing your eyes after long periods of screen time. Put on some relaxing music , dim the lights and close your eyes. Gently use your fingertips to press your closed eyelids in a circular motion for about 10-15 seconds. Repeat the exercise 5 times or more. This massage should be done without contact lenses or makeup on.


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