What allergies cause eye bags

By Marilyn Haddrill; contributions and review by Charles Slonim, MD

Puffy eyes and dark circles under the eyes happen for numerous reasons, including inherited facial features, allergies, stress, eye fatigue and individual skin characteristics such as texture.

While certain home remedies such as soothing cucumber slices — or even anti-hemorrhoid creams such as Preparation H — may temporarily relieve puffy eyes, a more long-lasting solution depends on the underlying cause.


Why do I own puffy eyes when I wake up?

When we're sleeping, we don't blink.

And this is part of the reason why eye puffiness develops.

Dark circles can form under the eyes from stress or lack of sleep.

Blinking for eyelids is love walking for legs. When idle, some people develop swelling in their lower extremities that goes away as soon as they start walking and muscles in the legs start "milking" the trapped fluids (edema), which are absorbed back into circulation.

A similar action takes put in the eyelids.

The closed, non-blinking eyelids during sleep potentially can swell in certain people prone to this problem.

So in the mornings, you could wake up with unusually puffy, swollen eyelids. When you wake up and start blinking, some of the puffiness gradually goes away.


Common Causes

Fluid Retention 

Blood vessels under the eyes can become dilated and engorged, which can contribute to dark circles. Excess dietary salt and smoking are common causes. Conditions that cause fluid retention (e.g. heart, thyroid, kidney, liver diseases) or medications that cause blood vessel dilation may be a factor.

Your doctor should be aware of any symptoms you're experiencing.

Aging

As you age, you lose fat and collagen in your face, which can make under eye circles seem more pronounced. Gravity (which pulls your facial skin down) is another reason why your dark circles get darker or bigger over time.

Thinning skin 

The skin under the eyes is thin and delicate. As you age, your skin and the fat pads under your eyes become thinner, causing blood vessels to become more noticeable. This gives the appearance of dark circles. Sun damage can make this appear worse, because it weakens skin.

Lack of Sleep 

A lack of sleep doesn't actually cause dark under eye circles, but it can make skin appear more pale, which allows blood vessels to be more visible through the skin, giving the appearance of bluish or dark circles.

Shadows you already own may become more obvious after a night of little sleep, too.

Allergies and Hayfever 

Dark circles under the eyes can be the result of allergies to airborne substances (such as pollen, dust, and pet dander). These are often called allergic shiners. They happen when blood pools under the eyes because of the swelling of the tissue in the nasal cavities.

People with hayfever may notice them at the height of the allergy season, often in spring. Dark circles may be exacerbated by itching and rubbing, which may make the darkness under the eyes appear more pronounced.

Genetics

Dark circles under the eyes runs in families. They are more common and sometimes more noticeable in people with darker skin tones.

This is because people with darker skin tones own more pigmentation in the skin under their eyes. Dark circles are also more noticeable with deep-set eyes.

Dehydration

Dark circles under the eyes can be a sign of dehydration.


Do puffy eyes mean I own a medical condition?

When swollen eyelids happen suddenly, it might be a sign you own an underlying medical problem.

For example, people with thyroid eye disease can develop swelling of tissue and muscles around their eyes.

Also, bulging eyes can signal a thyroid disorder known as Graves' disease.

Eye allergies also can cause swollen eyes.

What allergies cause eye bags

Other types of allergies, such as reactions to certain foods or chemicals, can cause swollen eyelids as well.

During an allergic reaction, certain cells in the body release a chemical called histamine. This can cause fluid to leak from blood vessels, resulting in edema and puffiness in surrounding tissues, including around the eyes.

Puffy, swollen eyelids and dark circles under the eyes can happen when you own an eye infection such as pink eye. In some cases, inflammation from dry eye syndrome also can cause puffy eyes.

Kidney failure and other systemic diseases can cause swelling throughout the body, including around the eyes.


What can be done about puffy eyes and dark circles?

To discover the best solution for puffy eyes and dark circles, it's significant to identify the underlying cause.

If you own the same puffy appearance around your eyes as your mom or dad, it's probably an inherited trait.

In this case, you might desire to consider cosmetic eyelid surgery to get rid of the puffiness.

Puffy eyes due to aging also can be eliminated with cosmetic eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty).

You might desire to discuss with your eye doctor or cosmetic surgeon some of the other procedures available to lessen the appearance of puffy eyes and dark circles under the eyes. These include chemical peels and laser skin resurfacing.

Many temporary remedies also can assist reduce the swollen glance around eyes, such as:

  1. Reducing salt in your diet
  2. Splashing freezing water over your face and eyes
  3. Using eye drops for irritation caused by allergies, if appropriate
  4. Eating potassium-rich foods, such as bananas, to eliminate excess fluids in your body
  5. Applying iced compresses when your lids are swollen
  6. Using creams and other skin products specially formulated for use around the eyes
  7. Applying cucumber slices or chilled tea bags over closed eyes
  8. Drinking ample fluid to prevent dehydration
  9. Getting plenty of sleep

One of the most common home remedies for puffy eyes, as mentioned above, is use of hemorrhoid creams and ointments on the skin around your eyes.

A common athletic ingredient in these preparations is phenylephrine, which is a medication that constricts blood vessels.

This can own a potential dual effect on puffy eyelids and dark circles under the eyes. Constricting blood vessels may reduce the potential for leakage of fluid that causes puffiness. And if the dark circles under your eyes are caused by dilated blood vessels under the skin under your eyes, shrinking these blood vessels may reduce the darkness.

Be aware that there are risks associated with using hemorrhoid creams for puffy eyes and dark circles.

If you accidentally get these products in your eyes, you can experience a severe inflammatory response known as chemical conjunctivitis.

Before trying hemorrhoid cream or other home remedies for puffy eyes, enquire your eye doctor for advice about other treatment options that are safe and more effective.

NEED AN EYE EXAM?Find an eye doctor near you.

Page updated July 2019


What causes puffy eyes and dark circles under eyes?

Swelling around the eyes is caused by an excessive accumulation of fluids (edema) in the surrounding skin tissue. Because the skin around the eyes is extremely thin, swelling and discoloration can be fairly prominent.

But why does fluid accumulate to form puffy eyes in the first place?

Puffy eyes generally result from a variety of factors, including:

  • Stress
  • Aging
  • Overconsumption of salt, which causes fluid retention
  • Crying
  • Sinus problems
  • Fatigue and lack of sleep
  • Dehydration
  • Allergies that can cause inflammation and swelling
  • Inherited facial features

Unfortunately, numerous people own puffy eyes simply because this trait runs in their family.

With aging, eye puffiness can be caused in part when fatty tissue that ordinarily protects the eye inside the bony eye socket begins to shove forward and fill in spaces under the eye.

This happens because aging processes cause thinning of the membrane or "septum" that ordinarily holds back fat in both the upper and lower eyelids.

As the membrane thins, the fat herniates and pushes forward, causing puffy eyes and dark circles and bags under the eyes.

Unfortunately, numerous people own puffy eyes simply because this trait runs in their family.

With aging, eye puffiness can be caused in part when fatty tissue that ordinarily protects the eye inside the bony eye socket begins to shove forward and fill in spaces under the eye.

This happens because aging processes cause thinning of the membrane or "septum" that ordinarily holds back fat in both the upper and lower eyelids. As the membrane thins, the fat herniates and pushes forward, causing puffy eyes and dark circles and bags under the eyes.


Under Eye Circle Remedies

Some home remedies may assist to temporarily decrease the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.

However, hold in mind that scientific support for the claim that any remedy can completely treat dark under eye circles is lacking.

  1. Vitamin K, which can be found in some skin creams and serums, increases circulation and may assist reduce the appearance of dark circles. 
  2. Mukherjee, Pulok & Nema, Neelesh & Maity, Niladri & Sarkar, Birendra. (2012). Phytochemical and therapeutic potential of cucumber. Fitoterapia.

    84.

    What allergies cause eye bags

    10.1016/j.fitote.2012.10.003

  3. Be certain to drink enough water, at least eight 8-ounce glasses per day and eat plenty of unused fruits and vegetables.
  4. Sarkar R, Ranjan R, Garg S, Garg VK, Sonthalia S, Bansal S. Periorbital hyperpigmentation: A comprehensive review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2016;9(1):49–55.

  5. Apply cool black tea bags over closed eyes. Don’t use herbal tea bags, because the caffeine in black tea is the athletic ingredient. It can stimulate the blood circulation around the eyes, as well as the blood in the capillaries.
  6. The dietary supplements grape seed extract and pycnogenol contain antioxidant pigments that may assist to strengthen blood vessels. They should be used only under medical supervision if you are on "blood-thinning" drugs such as Coumadin (warfarin) and aspirin.

    Certain foods, such as cranberries, blueberries, bilberries, tea (green and black), black currant, onions, legumes, and parsley also contain these antioxidant pigments.

  7. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. What are allergic shiners?

  8. Vrcek I, Ozgur O, Nakra T. Infraorbital dark circles: A review of the pathogenesis, evaluation and treatment. J Cutan Aesthet Surg.

    What allergies cause eye bags

    2016;9(2):65–72. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.184046

  9. Wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 under the eyes to prevent skin weakening caused by sun damage. When in direct sunlight, wear large sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat.
  10. Apply cool cucumber slices over closed eyes for 15 minutes.

    What allergies cause eye bags

    This is beneficial because of the freezing temperature of the slices, but the cucumber itself also has properties that can reduce swelling.

  11. Limit consumption of dietary salt (no more than 2,400 milligrams per day)
  12. Get plenty of sleep, at least eight hours per night.
  13. Marini A, Grether-beck S, Jaenicke T, et al.

If you are having health concerns, it's significant to speak with your doctor. Self-treating a condition with alternative medicine and avoiding or delaying standard care may own serious consequences.

Thanks for your feedback!

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles.

Read our editorial policy to study more about how we fact-check and hold our content precise, dependable, and trustworthy.

  • Sarkar R, Ranjan R, Garg S, Garg VK, Sonthalia S, Bansal S. Periorbital hyperpigmentation: A comprehensive review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2016;9(1):49–55.

  • Mukherjee, Pulok & Nema, Neelesh & Maity, Niladri & Sarkar, Birendra. (2012). Phytochemical and therapeutic potential of cucumber. Fitoterapia.

    84.

    What allergies cause eye bags

    10.1016/j.fitote.2012.10.003

  • Vrcek I, Ozgur O, Nakra T. Infraorbital dark circles: A review of the pathogenesis, evaluation and treatment. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2016;9(2):65–72. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.184046

  • American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. What are allergic shiners?

  • Marini A, Grether-beck S, Jaenicke T, et al.

As any sleep-deprived person with a mirror knows, dark circles under the eyes are generally prominent after a bad night’s sleep.

But why do people get these dark, purplish eye bags in the first place?

The answer is both genetic (that is, relating to your DNA) and environmental (a result of your everyday living, such as rubbing your eyes or getting too little sleep), said Dr. Carol Clinton, a skin-care specialist at Timeless Skin Solutions in Dublin, Ohio.

But «genetics is the biggest culprit,» Clinton told Live Science. [Why Do Babies’EyesStart Out Blue, Then Change Color?]

Eye bags are generally more noticeable in people who, because of genetics, own thin or pale skin. That’s because a fair complexion does little to hide what’s going on behind the scenes of the face. When people are tired or stressed, blood circulation in the eye area tends to slow, allowing blood to pool there, Clinton said.

Capillaries (thin blood vessels) stretch and leak, leading to puffy, dark eye circles, she said.

Moreover, some people are genetically prone to subluxation, the movement of fat from underneath the eyeball to the front of the eye. (It’s worth noting that a 2008 study published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery suggested that eye bags develop not from existing fat moving forward, but rather from an age-associated increase in fat beneath the eyeballs.)

Either way, «when you own the fat moving forward, that’s when people ponder about having surgery in that area,» Clinton said. She added that subluxation is not related to how much sleep a person gets.

In other words, a person can get 9 hours of sleep a night, but still own eye bags because of a genetic predisposition, Clinton said.

In other cases, environmental factors cause puffy eye bags.

What allergies cause eye bags

For instance, allergies — especially seasonal allergies — can cause capillaries to leak, Clinton said. When the body is exposed to allergens, it releases immune proteins known as histamines. These substances can cause blood vessels in and around the eyes to swell, she said.

Getting too much sun can also damage and thin the skin, making dark circles under the eyes more visible, Clinton said. Moreover, eating salty foods can cause the body to retain more water, exacerbating eye bags, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In addition, rubbing your eyes can also cause dark circles, because this action stimulates capillaries that are already prone to leaking.

To avoid the urge to rub your eyes, attempt putting an ice cube on your closed eyes for 60 to 90 seconds when they feel itchy, Clinton said.

«The freezing compress is going to constrict the blood vessel, and it will stop the itching sensation,» Clinton said.

What allergies cause eye bags

«You’ll notice immediate relief.»

Sometimes environmental factors beyond a person’s control, including gravity, can cause eye bags. As people age, they lose collagen (a structural protein) and elastin (an elastic protein) found in connective tissue. The bones in the face also lose volume as people age, so «everything just hangs» off of the face, and that contributes to eye bags too, Clinton said.

Original article on Live Science.

Conditions

As any sleep-deprived person with a mirror knows, dark circles under the eyes are generally prominent after a bad night’s sleep.

But why do people get these dark, purplish eye bags in the first place?

The answer is both genetic (that is, relating to your DNA) and environmental (a result of your everyday living, such as rubbing your eyes or getting too little sleep), said Dr. Carol Clinton, a skin-care specialist at Timeless Skin Solutions in Dublin, Ohio.

But «genetics is the biggest culprit,» Clinton told Live Science. [Why Do Babies’EyesStart Out Blue, Then Change Color?]

Eye bags are generally more noticeable in people who, because of genetics, own thin or pale skin. That’s because a fair complexion does little to hide what’s going on behind the scenes of the face. When people are tired or stressed, blood circulation in the eye area tends to slow, allowing blood to pool there, Clinton said.

Capillaries (thin blood vessels) stretch and leak, leading to puffy, dark eye circles, she said.

Moreover, some people are genetically prone to subluxation, the movement of fat from underneath the eyeball to the front of the eye. (It’s worth noting that a 2008 study published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery suggested that eye bags develop not from existing fat moving forward, but rather from an age-associated increase in fat beneath the eyeballs.)

Either way, «when you own the fat moving forward, that’s when people ponder about having surgery in that area,» Clinton said. She added that subluxation is not related to how much sleep a person gets. In other words, a person can get 9 hours of sleep a night, but still own eye bags because of a genetic predisposition, Clinton said.

In other cases, environmental factors cause puffy eye bags.

For instance, allergies — especially seasonal allergies — can cause capillaries to leak, Clinton said. When the body is exposed to allergens, it releases immune proteins known as histamines. These substances can cause blood vessels in and around the eyes to swell, she said.

Getting too much sun can also damage and thin the skin, making dark circles under the eyes more visible, Clinton said. Moreover, eating salty foods can cause the body to retain more water, exacerbating eye bags, according to the Mayo Clinic.

In addition, rubbing your eyes can also cause dark circles, because this action stimulates capillaries that are already prone to leaking.

To avoid the urge to rub your eyes, attempt putting an ice cube on your closed eyes for 60 to 90 seconds when they feel itchy, Clinton said.

«The freezing compress is going to constrict the blood vessel, and it will stop the itching sensation,» Clinton said. «You’ll notice immediate relief.»

Sometimes environmental factors beyond a person’s control, including gravity, can cause eye bags. As people age, they lose collagen (a structural protein) and elastin (an elastic protein) found in connective tissue. The bones in the face also lose volume as people age, so «everything just hangs» off of the face, and that contributes to eye bags too, Clinton said.

Original article on Live Science.

Conditions


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