When you look in the mirror and see bags under eyes, you might become alarmed. Your reaction may reach beyond the level of your cosmetic appearance and cause concern about your health.
While most bags around your eyes aren’t serious, you should check with your doctor, who can tell you how to take care of your skin and may recommend more effective treatment if necessary.
What Are Eye Bags?
As you age, you may notice bags forming around your eyes. They may appear as minor swelling or puffiness in your lower eyelids or dark circles on the skin beneath the eye. They can result from fluid retention, fat moving to a different area below your eye, and occasionally, from certain medical conditions.
Bags under the eyes do not usually signify a serious condition. In many cases, caring for your skin and making small changes to your daily routine can improve their appearance.
What Causes Bags Under Eyes?
As you get older, the tissues and muscles supporting your eyelids weaken, causing the skin to sag and form bags under eyes. In other cases, the fat that normally sits around your eye sinks into your lower eyelid, making it appear puffy and creating shadows.
Bags under your eyes can result from fluid collecting below them. Salt causes your body to retain fluid, so over-eating salt may play a role in the formation of dark circles.
While you can change certain habits, not all eye bags go away so quickly. Some of their most common causes include:
- Lack of sleep
- Sinus trouble
Symptoms of this condition remain in the eye area. When you look under your eyes, bags may appear as dark circles on the skin below your lower eyelids. These symptoms are usually mild and although you may not like the look of them below your eyes, bags under the eyes will rarely cause pain or require significant treatment.
Most people who have bags under their eyes experience only a few symptoms, including:
- Minor swelling
- Loose or sagging skin
- Dark circles
Usually eye bags do not indicate a serious condition, they can possibly be symptomatic of other problems. For example, if they occur suddenly, they may indicate that you have a thyroid condition like Graves’ disease.
If you have seasonal allergies or another type of allergic reaction, you may develop eye bags when your body releases histamines. These histamines cause fluid to leak from blood vessels under your eye, which causes puffiness and fluid retention.
An infection like pink eye or inflammation from dry eye syndrome can also cause your skin to swell. In these cases, you should talk to your doctor about getting antibiotics or eye drops to treat the problem.
More systemic diseases, like kidney failure, can contribute to swelling and lifestyle choices can certainly worsen the problem. Tobacco use compounds factors like sleep loss, breaking down collagen and reducing your skin’s elasticity.
How To Prevent Bags Under Eyes?
If you have a hereditary condition, you may not be able to prevent them. However, keeping healthy habits and using home remedies may reduce the likelihood of their appearance.
You can take these steps to prevent your skin from sagging:
- Get enough sleep
- Don’t smoke—or stop smoking
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol use
- Remove makeup before going to bed
- Use an eye cream in your skincare routine
- Use sunscreen and wear sunglasses to reduce exposure to UV rays
If you want to learn more about preventing bags under your eyes, talk to an eye specialist for more specific recommendations.
While you might be able to recognize bags under your eyes when you look in the mirror, only a doctor can diagnose their cause. They will not only have to look at the skin to diagnose a bag under the eye, but they might also perform other tests to check for thyroid disease, infection, or allergies.
If your primary care doctors cannot determine the cause, they might refer you to an ophthalmologist, who will perform a more in-depth exam. If you have any of the following symptoms, your eye bags could signal a more serious condition than fatigue or fluid retention:
- Severe swelling
- Pain around your eyes
- Persistent eye bags that do not go away with treatment
If you feel insecure or uncomfortable with your appearance, talk to your doctor about oculoplastic surgery to correct the problem.
How To Treat Bags Under Eyes?
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you can use several remedies to get rid of bags under your eyes:
- Place a cool compress over your eyes
- Get restful sleep
- Sleep with your head slightly raised
- Avoid drinking fluids before bed
- Limit your salt intake
- Quit smoking
- Reduce allergy symptoms by using a neti pot or medication
- Place tea bags on your eyes
If you have trouble clearing the bags from under your eyes, using a concealer may help you regain some of your confidence while you search for better remedies. You can also talk to your doctor about skin therapies, including laser treatment, chemical peels, and filters that even out your skin tone.
In severe cases, blepharoplasty, a type of eyelid surgery that removes fat from your lower eyelid. However, this procedure does not work for all eye bags.
Whether you try home remedies or have surgery to remove the bags under your eyes, talk to your doctor before trying anything. This condition is generally harmless but a professional opinion from your PCP or an ophthalmologist can tell you which option is right for you.