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All About Eyes: What Causes Under-Eye Bags and How to Treat Them

In most cases, tracing where under-eye bags come from isn’t hard. After a good cry or a particularly late night, your skin responds by becoming puffy or darker than normal. But some people chronically struggle with bags under their eyes.

While under-eye bags typically aren’t medically concerning, they commonly cause anxiety and self-consciousness. Often, bags under the eyes are related to lifestyle habits. By making some simple changes, you can often relieve symptoms. However, some people are just genetically prone to under-eye bags, especially later on in life.

If you ever experience severe swelling or discomfort that won’t go away, be sure to contact your doctor. Below, we’ve outlined the typical causes of under-eye bags and what you can do to get rid of them.

What Causes of Bags Under the Eyes

Dr. Wallin and our team of trained aestheticians often get asked by patients what causes bags under the eyes. Here are some of the common causes:

  • Lack of Sleep: Getting less than a full eight hours of sleep can cause a range of issues. Under-eye bags are often caused by your blood vessels slightly leaking due to too little sleep. These darker fluids then mix with the fluid that settles beneath the eyes, creating dark circles.
  • Allergies/Sinus Issues: When your allergies flare up, the sinuses swell as your body tries to fight back against whatever caused the inflammation. As this happens, your under-eyes can become visibly puffy.
  • Tobacco Products: Nicotine has been proven to disrupt sleep patterns, exacerbating the collection of fluid beneath the eyes. Over time, smoking also breaks down skin elasticity and slows the production of collagen, both of which are necessary for firm skin.
  • Alcohol: As alcohol dehydrates the body, excessive drinking can lead to under-eye bags as the skin becomes flabby or weak.
  • Aging: Aging naturally causes the breakdown of collagen and weakening of muscles and tissues. The fat that supports the eyes can gradually sink beneath the eyes, causing a swollen appearance and increased fluid collection in this area.
  • Excess Salt: If you eat a high salt diet, your body will retain more fluid, which often gets stored beneath the eyes.
  • Wearing Makeup Overnight: When left overnight, makeup can irritate the skin and tissue beneath the eyes, causing swelling.
  • Too Much Sun: The sun’s harmful UV rays can damage collagen and the cells necessary to maintain firm under-eye skin.
  • Genetics: Under-eye bags may run in the family. If your mother, father, or both have them, there’s a much higher chance that you’ll develop them too.

How to Treat Under-Eye Bags

Under-eye bags sometimes can’t be cured, but managing them is easier than ever. Some simple lifestyle changes can be a huge help:

  • Better Sleep: Do your very best to get the recommended amount of sleep for your age. Rest is one of the essential ingredients in a healthy lifestyle, and heading to bed earlier will lead to holistic improvements to your skin, mood, and wellbeing. Sleeping with your head slightly elevated may also prevent fluid build-up.
  • Treat Sinus/Allergy Issues: Seek proper medical advice for chronic sinus issues to reduce swelling. Not only will you see reduced under-eye bags, but it’s also likely that headaches, runny nose, sneezing, and other symptoms should improve.
  • Quit Smoking: Stopping the consumption of nicotine can be challenging, but the rewards are well worth it.
  • Reduce Alcohol Consumption: Skip that second cocktail and opt for water instead. Maintaining proper hydration will reduce puffiness and provide a range of benefits to your muscles, skin, and organs.
  • A Balanced Diet: Do your best to lower some of your salt intake, both for the sake of under-eye bags and long-term heart health.
  • Upkeep Proper Skincare: Wash your face with a gentle cleanser every night, followed by a botanical toner and light but hydrating moisturizer. Eye creams every other night or a few times a week can also help.
  • Avoid Sun Exposure: Wear a 30+ SPF sunscreen daily, or every few hours if you’re outside. Try to avoid direct sun exposure between 12-3 pm. Consider wearing a hat and sunglasses when outdoors for added protection.
  • Be Kind to Your Body: reducing stress, sleeping, eating right, drinking water, and staying mindful all play a significant role in how your body functions. These simple habits make a huge difference in how your skin will age, and when under-eye bags may develop.

Aside from these holistic changes, investing in a high-quality eye cream with retinol and other botanical ingredients will give your under-eyes a much needed deep and restorative hydration boost. OLEHENRIKSEN’s Banana Bright Eye Crème is a particular favorite of ours with a thick and luxurious yet very light consistency, naturally lightening ingredients, and packs a heaping dose of Vitamin-C.

Hydrafacialsfillers, and other non-invasive procedures at Oasis Aesthetics can also provide long-lasting results if under-eye bags persist. If you’re interested in learning about these or Desert Bloom’s other surgical offerings, please get in touch with our St. George, UT office to schedule your in-person or virtual consultation today.