What Causes Pale Skin & Baggy Eyes?

Relaxed mature woman asleep in bed
Adjust your schedule to make sleep a priority. (Image: roboriginal/iStock/Getty Images)

Pale skin and baggy eyes, while rarely a charming sight, may indicate little more than a restless night or over-indulging in unhealthy eating and drinking. Yet because one or both of these symptoms may signal a more serious underlying problem, it’s important to note accompanying symptoms and ask your doctor about any changes in your appearance.

Weather

Humidity or extreme heat can bring on baggy eyes through fluid retention, notes MayoClinic.com. If you also experience pale or clammy skin, you may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Drink plenty of fluid, stay in the shade or a cool room and cease vigorous activity. Signs of heat stroke that require medical attention include slurred speech and skin that changes from pale and clammy to hot and flushed. On the opposite side of the temperature spectrum, frostbite can cause pallor and swelling, and also requires emergency treatment.

Fatigue

Fluid accumulates under the eyes and skin becomes pale when you don’t get enough rest. Most people need at least eight hours of sleep. Adjust your schedule to make sleep a priority. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your practitioner about natural or prescription sleeping aids or methods.

Allergies

Sinus congestion and other responses to indoor and outdoor allergens can result in pallor or puffy eyes. Consult your doctor about allergy tests to help you identify and avoid certain allergens. Prescription medications may also help.

Anemia

Pale skin and fatigue-related puffy or dark-circled eyes may result from the blood disorder known as anemia, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Anemia most often stems from iron deficiency, which can occur through menstruation, pregnancy, ulcers or massive blood loss. Related forms of anemia result from folic acid or B12 deficiencies, or from disorders which interfere with nutrient absorption. Determining your form of anemia dictates the specific treatment, but in many cases adding supplements or new foods to your diet may solve the problem. Liver and blackstrap molasses contain iron and B vitamins, while leafy green vegetables also contain several crucial nutrients.

Bee Stings

Severe reactions to bee stings can cause pallor and overall puffiness, including around the eye area. It’s almost impossible not to know when you’ve been stung, of course, but after a sting, be on the lookout for anaphylaxis. Other severe reactions include nausea and difficulty breathing. Go to the emergency room immediately if bee stings cause any of these symptoms.

Eating Disorders

If you know someone with pale skin and eyes that appear dark-circled or baggy, it’s possible he isn't getting enough sleep or nutrition -- not from a condition like anemia, but instead because of an eating disorder. Other signs of anorexia include weight loss, hair loss, preoccupation with food and calories, and mood swings. If you recognize these symptoms in someone you know — or even in yourself — ask a doctor about the best way to recover from an eating disorder.

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