There are several reasons why eyes can become puffy, including a plethora of allergies, report doctors at the Mayo Clinic. Fluid accumulates under the eyes as a reaction to a number of different allergens, causing the eyes to appear puffy. In addition to affecting your appearance, puffiness around the eyes often is tender and uncomfortable and is usually accompanied by itching and redness.
Hay fever, also referred to as seasonal allergies, is a condition caused by pollen from trees and plants. Ragweed is one of the most common culprits in the fall, report doctors at the Grupocompostela Health University. Puffy, itchy eyes are one of the most common symptoms of hay fever that is rampant in areas of the country with high heat and humidity. When ragweed allergies hit, the body releases histamines that gather in the face and around the eyes. In the spring, the immune system reacts in much the same way to plants, trees and mold. Since there is no cure for seasonal allergies, you should avoid the outdoors when pollen levels are at their highest and wash hands and clothing as soon as you come inside. Eye drops and antihistamines sometimes can be useful in fighting the puffy eyes that show up in the fall and spring.
Food allergies are difficult to diagnose because you must keep a consistent diary of the foods you eat to find the culprit. Puffy eyes that result from food allergies are caused by the antibodies created by the body to fight the sensitivity to the allergen. The fluids then accumulate in thin skin areas of the body, especially around the eyes. Histamines are released and dilate the blood vessels. Food allergies can cause difficulty breathing, a rash, runny nose and watery eyes in addition to the puffiness. Reactions to certain foods can happen within five minutes to an hour after ingesting the food. Some of the most common food allergies include berries, chocolate, dairy products and buckwheat.
Animal dander is another major cause of allergies that result in puffy eyes. Doctors at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America report that between 15 and 30 percent of people with allergies also are allergic to pet dander. Some people are allergic just to certain breeds of dogs. Cat allergies are more common than dog allergies, but all pets secrete dander that is carried on their shedding hairs. The immune system of people with pet allergies is hypersensitive and reacts to contact with pet dander with symptoms such as itchy, puffy eyes, sneezing and coughing. Symptoms may not occur for up to two days after exposure to the animal dander. Blood tests and medical history are used to diagnose pet allergies. Symptoms can continue for up to a month after the animal is removed from the home.