- Puffy eyes are generally caused by a lack of sleep and dehydration.
- At-home treatments can get rid of puffy eyes with minimal cost.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) products can treat puffy eyes while also preventing them in the future.
- Never treat puffy eyes with products that are not designed for use around the eye area.
Puffy eyes are usually the result of fluid retention below the eye. Fluid retention occurs when there is an imbalance of salt and water in the body and is commonly brought about by dehydration. Lack of sleep and alcohol are also prime contributors to puffy eyes.
Rarely, puffy eyes can indicate an eye infection such as conjunctivitis or a more serious condition. If your eyes are chronically puffy, see a doctor to determine the cause.
Puffy eyes are typically most pronounced in the morning and gradually diminish on their own over the course of the day. To speed up the process, there are a few treatments that can be made using items you probably already have at home.
Green tea is commonly used to reduce eye puffiness. The remedy is as follows:
- Steep 2 tea bags
- Let bags cool in the fridge
- Apply over the eyes for 5–10 or until puffiness subsides
The tea’s antioxidant properties are said to soothe the area while the coldness of the bags constricts the blood vessels that contribute to swelling.
As a go-to remedy, green tea is easily purchased and inexpensive. However, the degree to which the antioxidants are actually absorbed beneath the eye is probably limited and the coolness of the tea bags probably accounts for most of the de-puffing.
The most well-known remedy to relieve puffy eyes is probably two slices of cucumber fresh from the fridge.
It’s recommended to lie down with a slice of cold cucumber over each eye for about 10 minutes to notice any effects.
While cucumber is often used for its antioxidant properties, as with the green tea, it’s probably the effect of the cold that reduces the puffiness.
Any kind of cold compress around the eyes can reduce blood flow to the area, thereby minimizing puffiness.
For a cold compress, use a washcloth soaked in cool water or two spoons that have been chilled in the freezer. Place the washcloth or spoons over your eyes for several minutes until the puffiness diminishes.
Witch hazel is a natural astringent that can help tighten skin and reduce puffiness. It is commonly found in the first aid section of the pharmacy. To use, moisten two cotton balls or pads and place under the eyes for several minutes; apply a moisturizer afterward.
However, witch hazel may be dehydrating to delicate under-eye skin. Avoid using if you have sensitive skin or if it causes irritation.
When applied topically, caffeine is what’s known as a vasoconstrictor, meaning it narrows blood vessels to reduce fluid around the eyes. Here’s one DIY recipe for a de-puffing mask:
- Combine fresh coffee grounds with 1 egg white
- Leave the mixture below the eyes for 15 or 20 minutes
- Wash face thoroughly
One word of caution: coffee can temporarily darken the skin, so be certain to wash your face well after using it in a mask.
Another puffy eye treatment is to drain fluid buildup from around the eyes by massaging it away. It’s recommended to use a jade roller or two ice cubes to cool the under-eye area as you massage.
By massaging from the inner corner of the eye outward, you can drain puffiness out from below the eye into the body. It is important to be gentle with the delicate skin around the eye: use minimal pressure and never tug at the skin.
Self-massage can be performed with no tools at all, but the coldness of a jade roller or ice cubes will probably reduce swelling more quickly than your fingers can.
If you are using ice cubes, be careful not to irritate or damage your skin or eyes due to the extreme coldness. Wrap the ice cubes in gauze or a clean washcloth to protect this area.
If your puffy eyes are too stubborn to be treated by at-home remedies, there are a large variety of skin care products designed to reduce and prevent puffiness. Whether you prefer eye creams or eye patches, there are a few key ingredients to look for when choosing an OTC treatment.
Peptides are naturally occurring proteins in the body that serve many functions, including signaling when to produce more collagen. They’re used as an ingredient in eye creams to increase skin firmness and thickness, which can prevent swelling. However, peptides require regular use to see results.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a potent molecule produced in the body to hydrate the skin. Topical application of HA effectively moisturizes your skin when you’re dehydrated. For this reason, it’s a common ingredient in OTC puffy eye treatments.
It might seem counterintuitive to counteract fluid buildup below the eyes by adding more moisture, but recall that the buildup is caused by dehydration. Introducing additional moisture will rebalance salt and fluids in the body to reduce puffiness.
If your puffy eyes are due to allergies—whether seasonal allergies or a reaction to a specific allergen such as animal dander—antihistamine eye drops can combat the swelling.
However, antihistamines will only work for puffy eyes caused by allergens and can’t treat signs of dehydration or fatigue.
At-Home Remedies to Avoid
Not all puffy eye treatments are created equal. There are a few products that some say are effective as puffy eye remedies that aren’t worth the risk of potential damage to your eyes.
Hemorrhoid cream is one such product to be avoided. This cream is not designed for use near the eye, so accidentally getting it in your eye could result in serious irritation and possible vision loss.
OTC hydrocortisone cream is sometimes recommended to reduce puffy eyes because it’s an anti-inflammatory. However, it isn’t meant to be applied around the eye.
In general, avoid using any harsh chemicals that aren’t specifically indicated as safe for use around the delicate eye area.
Even if you take preventative measures, you may still find yourself waking up with puffy eyes some mornings. Fortunately, there are a few quick remedies requiring only simple items you may already have at home.
The application of something cold is one of the biggest basic principles behind de-puffing eyes quickly, whether you use cucumber slices, cold spoons, or even something as simple as a washcloth soaked in cold water.
If home remedies are not effective, there are also OTC options available to treat puffy eyes. However, avoid using any medicinal products that aren’t designed for use around the eye.
- Forester, S. C., & Lambert, J. D. (2011). The role of antioxidant versus pro-oxidant effects of green tea polyphenols in cancer prevention. Molecular nutrition & food research, 55(6), 844–854. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201000641
- Gorouhi, F., & Maibach, H. I. (2009). Role of topical peptides in preventing or treating aged skin. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 31(5), 327–345. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2494.2009.00490.x