How to Get Rid of Puffy Eyes

A cropped photo of an elderly woman with puffiness and wrinkles under her eyes

Marina Demeshko / Getty Images

  • Puffy eyes will go away on their own after a matter of time.
  • If you deal with puffy eyes constantly, there are measures you can take to prevent puffy eyes from occurring.
  • If your eyes are already puffy, you can try some at-home remedies like eye creams, or cold compresses to relieve some of the swelling.

Everyone faces puffy eyes in the mirror from time to time. Whether they’re due to a sleepless night, allergies, or your diet, they can be a cosmetic concern for many people. 

The area around your eyes is the thinnest skin in your body, so it can be hard to mask swelling due to the retention of fluid from your tear ducts, congestion or inflammation. 

Thankfully, puffy under-eyes are typically very manageable and your body’s natural response to a high-sodium diet, sleep cycle, or gradual aging, among other causes.

Keep reading for more on why puffy eyes happen, and what you can do to treat them. 

Get Enough Sleep

When you’re sleep-deprived, your body releases cortisol from your adrenal glands, which changes the balance of salt in your body and makes you retain water and swell in your face. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is very common nowadays. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep each night. Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of good sleep each night, in order to have a positive sleep hygiene routine.

A good way to make sure you get better sleep is to avoid alcohol and caffeine near your bedtime — at least 6 hours before. Also try to turn off your electronic devices at least 2 hours before bedtime, as this will give your eyes and mind enough time to rest before settling down, and give a chance for melatonin to kick in. 

Limit Your Salt Intake

Fluid retention is the main underlying cause behind puffy eyes, so it's worth avoiding foods that will trigger it. Sodium plays a key role in regulating water in your cells, and when we eat too much salt, that extra sodium increases the amount of fluid in the body, outside your cells. Cutting down salt in your diet can help you curb excess fluid in your body. 

The American Heart Association recommends limiting your salt intake to 1,500 milligrams per day, which will also help to keep your heart more healthy and limit your chance of stroke.

Use a Cold Compress

Placing cold cucumbers on tired eyes is a popular practice, and there’s a reason for it: it works.  Cooling the area around your eyes reduces blood flow, which in turn helps decrease the inflammation and swelling around your eyes.

While cucumbers are the popular tools for this, you could use a number of items around your house: a bag of frozen vegetables, a spoon that’s been in the freezer, a cold cloth, or a jade roller. Cold tea bags can also help, since caffeine can help reduce blood flow to your skin and make it look brighter and tighter.

Eye Creams

An eye cream that contains caffeine will help to combat dark circles and fine lines, which may reduce the overall look of puffy eyes. ​​Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it constricts blood vessels. Many cosmetics companies sell eye creams with caffeine to reduce under-eye puffiness. You can even keep your eye cream in the refrigerator to enhance its soothing abilities.

Eye Rollers

There are eye rollers made from metal or natural stones like jade or quartz, which can be handy for applying gel or cream to the eye. Using a roller can provide cold stimulation to your eye area, improve circulation, and aid in lymphatic drainage, all of which can help decrease puffy eyes.

Causes of Puffy Eyes


When you have an allergic reaction, whether that’s to pollen, animals or a specific food, your body releases histamines, which make your blood vessels dilate and cause swelling around your eyes.

Allergens can stick to clothing, surfaces, and even your contact lenses if you wear them. Make sure to shower and wash clothes that have been near allergens, and consider switching to disposable contact lenses.

If you think your puffy eyes are as a result of an allergy, try taking an antihistamine to see if they reduce.

Diet and Alcohol Intake

An unbalanced diet and dehydration can have a noticeable effect on your skin, and the puffiness around your eyes. When you are dehydrated, the skin under your eyes becomes flabby and weak, causing bags to form. To avoid dehydration, make sure to drink between 8 and 10 glasses of water a day,  reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake, and decrease your consumption of sodium.

In a similar vein, consuming too many artificial sweeteners can also cause you to retain water, which can lead to puffy eyes.

Adding potassium-rich foods into your diet, like bananas and leafy greens, can help you relieve water retention.


Waking up the morning after a big crying session often means looking in the mirror to find extremely puffy eyes — and feeling like you need the biggest glass of water.

It’s not exactly clear as to why emotional tears cause more puffiness than streaming eyes, but it may have something to do with emotional tears containing stress hormones, which are linked to water retention. It may also have to do with the lacrimal drainage system, which gets overwhelmed when you cry.

Genetics and Aging

Aging causes loss of collagen in the body, which leads to thin and weakening skin. This can cause the fat deposits that usually support the eye area to sag, and lead to puffy eyes.

Additionally, some people are more likely to get puffy eyes as they age. If you’ve inherited puffy eyes, it’s not something to worry about, you may just be more predisposed.

How To Prevent Puffy Eyes

There are a lot of life factors that have an impact on your tiredness, hydration levels, overall health, and more of the factors that play a part in puffy eyes occuring, so it’s likely impossible to prevent puffy eyes forever.

However, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and looking after the skin around your eyes, will likely curb your chances of getting puffy eyes.

Thankfully, in most cases, puffy eyes will go away on their own, and are not usually as a result of a long term condition.

When To See a Healthcare Provider

If you’ve experienced trauma to your eyes and have puffy eyes as a result, then you should talk to your healthcare provider. You should also see your provider if your eyes are inflamed, itchy, and secreting sticky fluid. You may have conjunctivitis, a stye, or thyroid eye disease. Puffy eyes may be another symptom of these conditions.

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  7. Feijó F de M, Ballard CR, Foletto KC, et al. Saccharin and aspartame, compared with sucrose, induce greater weight gain in adult Wistar rats, at similar total caloric intake levels. Appetite. 2013;60:203-207. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2012.10.009

  8. National Institutes of Health. Potassium.

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