13 Causes Of Puffy Eyes & How You Can Reduce Inflammation ASAP

Have you woken up with puffy eyes and want to get rid of them? We hear you, but, first, we must understand what exactly puffy eyes are and what causes them.

Puffy eyes appear swollen and could result from your diet (stop eating that salty junk food), lifestyle, or one of several medical conditions. Some reasons are nothing to be concerned about, which may include, for example, added fluid retention during your menstrual cycle or the result of crying too much after binge-watching your favorite rom-coms. But other conditions are much more serious and must be addressed by a medical professional. This is especially true if your inflammation is accompanied by intense pain or impaired vision.


If you are wondering what could be causing your eyes to appear so puffy and if there are any simple treatments for reducing the inflammation (the good news: yes!), you've come to the right place.

You're not getting enough sleep

Did you have a really late night? Or, perhaps, you have been struggling to get some decent shut-eye because there is too much on your mind? Whatever the reason, your lack of sleep could affect your eyes and make them feel irritated and look puffy. "Lack of sleep leads to increases in certain hormones that cause fluid retention," board-certified dermatologist Anar Mikailov told MindBodyGreen. "Additionally, lack of sleep means less lymphatic fluid available to clear toxins and waste products, so buildup leads to puffiness."


Sleep is essential, and our bodies need it to function, which is why chronic sleep deprivation can cause serious health concerns. It can also affect your mental health. If you wonder how much sleep a healthy adult needs (between the ages of 18 and 64), the answer is seven to nine hours. So, prioritize your bedtime, get enough sleep, and you will be one step closer to banishing those puffy eyes!

You haven't changed your contact lenses

If you forget to change your contact lenses or you have kept them in for too long, your eyes may receive less oxygen and start to swell. You should also not sleep with them to avoid problems. Puffy eyes may be the least of your concerns if you don't regularly take care of your eyes and practice proper usage of your contact lenses. This could lead to various issues, including the risk of bacterial or fungal infections. "One of the biggest problems with over-wearing or sleeping in the lenses is you're getting less oxygen to the eye," optometrist Reecha Kampani told Cleveland Clinic. "This can lead to infection, inflammation, and abrasions to the eye because the added oxidative stress makes the eye more vulnerable to various bacteria and pathogens."


Never wear your contact lenses for longer than recommended, and always dispose of them once they have expired (these are just some of the important things to know when you wear contact lenses).

Perfumes can have a negative effect

You may love the smell of perfume, but your body says, "No, thanks!" Some people have incredibly sensitive eyes, which means that strong smells, such as your favorite scent, could cause an unpleasant reaction. If you have noticed that every time you try on a new perfume, your eyes start to water or swell (which may be combined with other symptoms including sneezing, headaches, and nausea), this could be the cause. Or you may be allergic to the chemicals found within the fragrance. This could be especially true if you are someone who has known allergies.


The same problems could be caused by face creams, lotions, and other beauty products that contain fragrances. So, what is the solution? "Any product with a scent can be irritating to patients," Beth A. Miller, director of the University of Kentucky's Asthma, Allergy, and Sinus Clinics and chief of the university's division of allergy and immunology in Lexington, told Everyday Health. "I suggest patients utilize scent-free products if at all possible." Fragrance-free and hypoallergenic products are an excellent place to start.

Smokers could be prone to puffy eyes

Cigarettes can cause the entire body to swell, not just the eyes. This is the result of excess lymph fluid in the tissues.

In addition, nicotine can affect the body in several ways, including making the skin appear less firm, as it targets collagen and elasticity. The solution for reducing inflammation is not a simple fix. You need to stop smoking if you want to improve the appearance of your skin (this includes puffiness and other skin-related conditions).


Additionally, cigarette smoking is not the only culprit, as vaping can wreak havoc on your skin from the chemicals within e-cigarettes. "Inhalation of toxins while vaping will impact the protection of the skin barrier and make the problem of chronic inflammation worse," Mervyn Patterson, a cosmetic physician, told Glamour. "Conditions such as acne, rosacea and psoriasis, that are closely linked to barrier abnormalities and inflammation, will tend to deteriorate."

It's time to cut back on salt

Salt can make your food taste better, but eating too much is never good for your body. 

It's not just added salt that's the problem; many common foods, such as cold cuts and canned foods, are high in salt which you may not even realize. Plus, salt is addictive, which is why we crave it. "Switching off salt cravings would promote a healthier diet and food choices," neuroscientist Craig Smith told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Because at the moment, you know the salad is healthy, but you crave the junk food for the salt."


But how will a high-sodium diet affect your skin? "High salt intake causes the kidneys to retain water, which leads to swelling in general. The skin under the eye is very delicate, and puffiness is more significant in that location," dermatologist Clare Wolinsky told Women's Health. It's important to make good decisions in relation to your diet; for example, it's recommended not to have more than 2,300 mg per day.

Keeping makeup on when sleeping is a bad idea

After a long day, you may be tempted to skip washing your face and removing your makeup. Most of us have done this at least once out of sheer exhaustion and laziness. But it's an important step in your skincare routine, and leaving eye makeup on while you sleep can cause dryness and irritate the eyes, which can also result in puffy eyelids. "In some patients, makeup on the eyelid can cause problems such as irritation and infection of the surface of the eye and also damage to eyelashes," ophthalmologist Shahriar Nabili told Yahoo! Life U.K. "Some patients can also develop problems with the tear duct and watery eye." So, the next time you think about skipping out on removing your makeup, remember this!


It's not only the eyes that will be affected because not removing makeup can result in several skin conditions, including acne caused by blocked pores as well as oxidative damage, which can cause fine lines and wrinkles.

Your menstrual cycle could be to blame

Your period comes around once a month (although there are many variations), and it can be an uncomfortable few days. A few of the most common symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome, often referred to as PMS, are feeling moody and irritable, experiencing headaches and breakouts, and being hungrier than usual. But did you know that your menstrual cycle could affect your skin and cause it to appear puffy?


The surge of hormones around the time of your menstrual cycle could result in several symptoms, including water retention, making your eyes (and the rest of your body) feel swollen. This is often particularly noticeable in the face — this is a real side effect, not a period myth you must stop believing.

The good news is that this will pass soon, and your eyes will return to looking great again. While you wait, consider cutting back on salty foods, getting enough rest, and trying a few home remedies known to reduce inflammation.

Pink eye can cause pain and inflammation

Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is a common and contagious eye infection easily noticeable by its red appearance. In addition to redness, symptoms can include inflammation, slight pain, and itching along the inner membrane of the eye. Most pink eye infections are viral but could also be bacterial or caused by an allergy. As for what causes allergic pink eye? This could be a range of things, including air pollution and cosmetics.


If an allergy is the cause, you will notice that both eyes likely appear red and swollen (rather than starting with just one). You may also experience other common allergy symptoms such as eye-watering and nasal congestion. "Pink eye doesn't come with many warning signs," Randy McLaughlin, an optometrist and professor of optometry, told Health, "but once you notice symptoms, it's important to take special care." The eye can be treated with a special eye cream or drops. If you think the pink eye is caused by an allergy, you will want to determine the trigger so you can avoid it going forward.

Your eye swelling could be a result of a medical condition

Several medical conditions cause fluid retention, which can result in puffy eyes. These include heart problems, kidney or liver disease, and obstructive sleep apnea. One of the more well-known conditions is a thyroid disorder.


The thyroid is an endocrine gland located at the front of the neck that's responsible for releasing hormones that control, among other things, your metabolism. Those with hyperthyroidism may notice a change in the skin around their eyes. "Patients with some types of hyperthyroidism can get thickening of the fat around their eyes, causing puffy eyes," dermatologist Mike Swann told Women's Health. "Puffy eyelids can also be seen in lupus, dermatomyositis, and other connective tissue diseases." This is one of the more serious causes of puffy eyes, which requires a medical professional's proper diagnosis and treatment plan (you don't want to use home remedies for these concerns).

You've been feeling emotional and have been crying

Have you been having a tough time recently and have been crying more than usual? Or, perhaps, you binge-watched a super-emotional series and cried your eyes out? Whatever the reason for your tears, you may find that the skin surrounding the eyes becomes puffy afterward. "When this gland is churning out tears, the [tear] fluid is less salty and more watery," dermatologist Mike Swann told Women's Health. "Differences in salt concentration between these tears and the surrounding tissues causes some swelling of the eyelid."


Many of us also rub our eyes when crying or use a tissue to wipe away the tears, which could cause more irritation. But it's not all bad news because a good cry can be great for your mental health and can even release endorphins (the feel-good hormones). It's also easy to reduce the swelling by using a cool compress or by cutting a few cucumbers to help fight inflammation.

Your skin is losing collagen and elastin

There is a link between aging and inflammation. One of the most apparent signs of aging is its effect on the skin, which starts to sag and wrinkle over time. This may be more noticeable around the eyes first. "The skin around our eyes is very thin, and as we age, the tissue matrix called collagen begins to weaken," optometrist Tamara Hill-Barnett told Reader's Digest. "This weakening creates pockets, allowing fat and water to rest in your upper and lower eyelids." This can make your eyes appear puffy.


But aging is not something you can alter or reverse. If this is the cause of your eyes appearing more puffy, don't sweat it! Follow a healthy diet and clean lifestyle, and embrace every line on your face. However, if you want to detract from it, makeup and a good concealer can help disguise the appearance of puffy eyes.

You may have dry eye syndrome

When your eyes cannot produce enough fluid, it can cause extreme dryness and irritation. Over time this could also lead to inflammation. The condition is often referred to as dry eye. But what causes dry eyes? This could be anything from blue light from technology, medications, and irritation (including from contact lenses). "More people than ever are suffering from dry, irritated, red eyes that can feel itchy or gritty as if there's a foreign body in your eyes," ophthalmologist Diane Hilal-Campo told Byrdie.


If you have dry eyes, you would not be alone, as a large percentage of adults experience dryness at some stage — research has indicated that up to 16 million Americans currently experience dry eyes. This common concern can be resolved with eye drops, and you may benefit from a humidifier, which adds moisture to the air. For more serious cases, prescription medication or surgery could be the answer.

A blocked tear duct can cause a fluid buildup

A blocked tear duct is more common among small children, with as many as 20% of newborns affected. But adults can also experience it, and if your tear ducts cannot adequately drain the water from the eyes, this can result in fluid pooling, which causes inflammation. The eye will also appear red, swollen, and watery. This can happen due to infection, eye injury, tumors, aging, or a ​​chemotherapy side effect. You will be more likely to experience a blocked tear duct if you have a history of nasal passage and eye infections.


A blocked tear duct will likely need treatment. There are several approaches depending on the severity, including prescription medication and a course of antibiotics. Or, in more severe cases, minor surgical procedures, such as balloon catheter dilation or the placing of a stent through the tear drainage system for drainage, may be needed.

Reduce eye inflammation with a change of diet

Knowing the cause of your eye inflammation is an important step in solving the problem, and you may find that something as simple as a change in diet and lifestyle can work wonders. Cutting back on certain foods, including those high in sodium, and drinking more water (at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day) to ensure your body is hydrated could reduce inflammation. "There are many things that scientists are certain add to the inflammatory response in our bodies. Things such as a highly processed foods diet, chronic stress, and even poor dental health cause chronic inflammation. Over time, these things can degrade the body and speed up aging," integrative medicine physician Pooja Amy Shah told Well + Good. A balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables could make all the difference.


You also want to give up bad habits including smoking, which is known to cause fluid retention, try to control stress and anxiety and determine your triggers, and get enough rest.

Invest in a great eye cream or mask

If you want to reduce the appearance of puffiness around your eyes, a good eye cream is key. It can be used to hydrate the area and tighten the skin, which will work to minimize swelling and banish puffiness.


With so many products on the market, finding the one that works the best can be challenging. "You should look for products that can cool the eye area and rejuvenate the skin to reduce puffiness," dermatologist Marnie Nussbaum told StyleCaster.

Creams are not the only useful remedy, though. You can also use rollers or try popular home remedies, such as a cold spoon to constrict the blood vessels, wet tea bags for reducing inflammation, and a hot and cold shower. Changing between the two temperatures every three minutes (for a total of 18 minutes) could help alleviate puffiness, nurse and skincare founder Kristin Bauer told Reader's Digest.

Cucumbers may be the cure you've been looking for

Cucumbers are celebrated for being the at-home remedy you need for reducing puffiness and under-eye circles. Cucumbers are often added to the eyes because of their ability to hydrate the area from their high water content. They are also filled with flavonoids and antioxidants. "Before skincare megastores and websites devoted to all things skin, people with puffy eyes reached for what was readily accessible," double board-certified dermatologist Brendan Camp told Byrdie. "Cucumbers have become a mainstay for addressing swelling and puffing of the periorbital skin because they are a natural, inexpensive, and easy fix."


But how do you add cucumbers to your eyes? It's incredibly simple, really. You want to thinly slice and place a piece of cucumber over the eye. It will also feel cool (especially if you put them in the fridge or a cold glass of water beforehand) and help relieve discomfort. Plus, it's an affordable and practical solution, and the cucumbers you don't use can go into making a great salad!

If swelling persists, seek medical attention

Many causes of puffy eyes are not considered dangerous and will resolve on their own or can be treated by over-the-counter medication or home remedies. But, while factors such as crying, aging, and your menstrual cycle are not reasons for concern, some causes of inflammation could be caused by a medical condition that needs to be properly addressed and treated by a professional.


If you are unsure why your eyes have become puffy and the issue does not appear to resolve on its own, always err on the side of caution. "Any swelling that lasts longer than 24 to 48 hours should send you to an eye care professional because there are times it can be something severe that can blind you," ophthalmologist Annapurna Singh told the Cleveland Clinic. Other signs your puffy eyes require treatment include vision impairment, extreme pain and discomfort, and the appearance of something floating in your eye.