What Causes Bags Under the Eyes?

Published July 26, 2018
Woman looking eye bags

Bags under the eyes often include mild swelling, saggy or loose skin, and dark circles. It's common to experience puffy eyes, whether they appear occasionally after a difficult night's sleep or regularly due to an underlying condition. Although there are many different causes, it's easy to treat them once you know how.

Causes of Eye Bags

You could be experiencing mild swelling around the eyes or puffiness due to the following factors.


As you age, the tissues around your eyes and muscles supporting your eyelids gradually weaken. Fat that helps to support the eyes has a habit of moving to the lower eyelids, and fluid may also accumulate in the space below your peepers. This naturally creates the appearance of puffiness.

Fluid Retention

Fluid retention is a common cause of intermittent bags under the eyes, especially if you've just woken up after a heavy night sleep or you've just had a salt-heavy foods such as french fries.

Lack of Sleep

If you've been particularly restless during the night or you're overtired, you might wake up to find that you have swelling around your eyes. Lack of sleep prevents your body from flushing out excess fluid, which then gathers in the tissues under your eyes.


When you suffer an allergic reaction, your body releases chemicals called histamines that cause your eyes to swell. Allergies can often be the cause of pesky bags under your eyes, especially if you're sleeping in an environment where you're allergic to something around you. You can also wake up with puffy eyes if you've eaten a food or had a drink you're intolerant to the night before.


Sometimes, you can't help having this condition because you've inherited dark pigment under your eyes from your genes. This could mean there's a constant shadowing effect or prominence of veins that run under that area.

Not Removing Makeup Properly

Removing your makeup fully before you go to bed will minimize your probability of getting bags under your eyes. If you don't, you may experience skin irritation around the eyes and the aging process will quicken and lead to wrinkles, as well as dark circles.


Tobacco smoke is harmful, and it can break down collagen production which accelerates the aging process. When you smoke you have continuous contact with tobacco fumes, and it makes your skin super dehydrated. This means that your body retains water in your eyes to avoid extra thirstiness, thus resulting in eye bags.

Treating Eye Bags

There are several ways you can treat any type of bags under the eyes both medically and at home.

Try Therapies

Wrinkle treatments can be used to reduce the appearance of puffy eyes, including laser resurfacing, chemical peels, and fillers. You can also try bleaching creams at the advice of your doctor. As well as improving the tone of your skin, these treatments can tighten the pores to eliminate eye bags successfully.

Apply a Cool Compress

Applying a cool compress onto your eyes for a few minutes using mild pressure can reduce eye puffiness. Either a wet, cool washcloth or a slice of cucumber on each eye works particularly well.

Use Allergy Medications

Try to avoid allergens whenever possible and take over-the-counter allergy medications to minimize the appearance of bags under the eyes. Some popular antihistamine brands to experiment with include Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Claritin.

Apply Tea Bags

Apparently, tea isn't just for drinking! The caffeine contains powerful antioxidants that increase blood flow to your skin, protect you against UV rays, and slow down the aging process. If you use green tea specifically, this has an anti-inflammatory effect. Merely allow two tea bags to stew for three to five minutes and then chill them in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Squeeze out any excess liquid and apply the tea bags to your under-eye area for 15 to 30 minutes for maximum results.

Try Retinol Creams

Retinol is an ingredient related to vitamin A that comes in a cream, gel, or liquid. It's often used to treat aging, acne, and psoriasis, but it can also seriously improve collagen deficiency around your eye area. This helps to prevent eye puffiness.

Change Your Lifestyle

One of the most straightforward options when it comes to treating eye bags is to change your lifestyle. If you smoke, stop. Try to get seven to nine hours sleep per night and sleep on a pillow that allows your head to be slightly raised. This will prevent fluid from accumulating around your eyes as you sleep. Also, eat a balanced, healthy diet, drink lots of water, and reduce your salt intake before bed.

Finding What Works

There are several reasons why you might experience bags under the eyes. It's important to try to target which ones apply to you so you can treat any current dark circles, as well as adopt preventative measures for the future.

What Causes Bags Under the Eyes?