How to Get Rid of Red, Puffy Eyes

Irritated female eyes close-up
Puffy eyes can be uncomfortable. (Image: Demkat/iStock/Getty Images)

Red, puffy eyes are uncomfortable to have and painful to look at. Sometimes the condition is accompanied by mild irritation, while other times your eyes may swell up to the size of lemons. The condition can develop seemingly overnight and has a variety of causes, including allergies, sleep deprivation, contact-lens irritation and overindulgence in alcohol or tobacco. Before you stash your puffy eyes behind your sunglasses, consider some basic treatment options that can alleviate the discomfort and red appearance.

Step 1

Wash your eyes to remove any irritants that may be causing the redness. Eye washes are available at any drugstore and come with a cup that you fill with the wash fluid. Simply place your closed eye into the cup, lean your head back slightly and open and close your eye two or three times to rinse it out.

Step 2

Insert one drop of a redness-reducing eye drops into each eye to remove the red color. These types of eye drops have antihistamines and decongestants which are particularly effective if your irritation is due to allergies.

Step 3

Saturate a washcloth in cold water and wring out most of the moisture. Fold the washcloth into a rectangle and lay it over your eyes while you are sitting up in a chair. Lean your head back slightly to prevent the cloth from slipping off. Leave the cloth in place for 10 to 15 minutes to allow it to reduce the puffiness. Don’t lie down while doing this, as this will prevent the excess fluid from draining out of the eye area.

Step 4

Get at least eight hours of sleep. Elevate your head to a more vertical position with two pillows so that excess fluid can drain out of your face, thus reducing the puffiness.

Step 5

Place two used tea bags into the refrigerator and leave them for 10 to 15 minutes to chill. Remove the tea bags from the refrigerator and lean your head back while placing one bag on each eye. Leave the tea bags in place until they warm to room temperature. Opt for mint, chamomile or black teabags to reduce puffiness.

Step 6

Place a pre-treated eye patch designed to relieve puffiness on the skin under each eye. Leave the patches in place for 15 minutes, and then remove and discard them. Some patches have a mild adhesive allowing you to walk around while they work; others may require that you lean your head back.

Things You'll Need

  • Washcloth

  • Cold water

  • Eye wash

  • Redness reducing eye drops

  • Tea bags

  • Pre-treated eye patches

Tip

If you wear contact lenses, leave them out for 24 to 48 hours, or until the redness and puffiness diminishes.

Other causes of red eyes include irritation from pool chemicals and pregnancy.

Looking at a computer screen for too long can also result in red, puffy eyes.

Warning

If the redness in your eyes worsens or does not clear up within 24 hours, visit an eye-care professional. You may have a more serious eye problem that requires medical treatment.

Don’t use more eye drops than recommended on the bottle. Whitening drops can actually cause eyes to become redder when overused.

Avoid rubbing your eyes, since this will create additional puffiness and redness.

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