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What Are the Causes of Swollen Eye Bags?

author image Jonathan Croswell
Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.
What Are the Causes of Swollen Eye Bags?
Swelling under the eyes can be aesthetically unpleasing to some people. Photo Credit: Dirima/iStock/Getty Images

Swelling in the bags under the eyes is rarely uncomfortable, but for many people it can be a difficult physical attribute to accept. The swelling can cause your face to look older and more fatigued, and in some cases it can disturb the tone of your skin due to the presence of blood in the bags. This swelling might occur for several reasons.

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A swollen, dark eye area.
A swollen, dark eye area. Photo Credit: rob_lan/iStock/Getty Images

Swelling in the bags of your eyes tends to appear just below the eyes. A thickened patch of skin may appear to be sagging, and it can be red or purple in color if blood is filling the surface underneath. Usually, the swelling and color is limited to the pockets of skin directly under the eye. You may also experience itching in the location, and in rarer instances, there may be some sensitivity.


Swelling in the eye area can be caused by many different things.
Swelling in the eye area can be caused by many different things. Photo Credit: diego cervo/iStock/Getty Images

Swelling in the bags around your eyes can be caused by a wide range of problems, ranging from harmless heredity to more serious allergies. Swelling can also be caused by getting an insufficient amount of sleep at night, and blood may fill the capillaries when you sleep, causing the appearance of swelling during the day. Fluid retention can also be a cause, according to CNN Health.


Use a larger pillow at night.
Use a larger pillow at night. Photo Credit: michaeljung/iStock/Getty Images

If you develop swollen eyes due to sleeping flat on your back, you can use a larger pillow or consider elevating the head end of your bed to create an incline and help the blood flow out of the bags under your eyes at night. Swelling from fatigue is only remedied by getting more sleep at night. Swelling due to heredity cannot be alleviated except through medical procedures, and allergies may be treated with an antihistamine and elimination of the irritant, although extra steps may need to be taken.


A professional can administer a chemical peel.
A professional can administer a chemical peel. Photo Credit: Fly_dragonfly/iStock/Getty Images

If you suffer from chronic swelling in your eyes, a few procedures may alleviate this physical feature. Laser resurfacing and chemical peel treatments can help improve and tighten the skin, reducing the appearance of swelling. They can also fade and possibly eliminate discolorations that accentuate the visibility of the swollen bags. Blepharoplasty is a surgical procedure in which a surgeon eliminates excess fat and skin, reducing the bulge of the bags under your eyes.


In most cases, swelling around the eyes is only a temporary reaction and poses no threat to your health. Even chronic cases are harmless, but if you develop other symptoms in association with the puffiness, particularly those relating to an allergic reaction, contact a doctor immediately. Severe allergies that go untreated can be life-threatening.

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