What Causes Eye Bags?

Eye bags as a rule start out as small, puffy areas just below the eyes. These areas naturally contain fat, which is held in its place by ligaments. Certain factors can cause fluid to be retained within the fatty tissue, resulting in it being expanded or pushed forward and eventually causing puffiness.

If combatted straight away, this puffiness can usually be reduced fairly effectively through a range of simple, natural remedies. Puffed up eyes after a late night, for instance, can be soothed and reduced by simply placing a cold spoon onto the affected area for a few minutes.

If left untreated, however, the continually stretched skin loses its ability to spring back and the surrounding ligaments become weakened, which will ultimately result in full blown, heavy bags under they eyes.

Below are a few of the most common causes of eye bags, as well as a few tips on how to prevent them (where applicable). While some causes are fairly easily prevented or combatted, others, like hereditary influences, can of course not be avoided and all an individual can do is to do their best to delay the arrival of the problem as long as possible.

Normal Aging Process

  • Weakening Ligaments As a person gets older, the ligaments become weaker, as do muscles and tissues supporting the eye lids, allowing the fatty tissue around they eye to be pushed forward much easier and quicker.
  • Loss of Skin Elasticity What begins as a hardly visible, puffy little pillow eventually grows into that loose, saggy wad of skin usually referred to as an eye bag. This is because the surrounding skin loses its elasticity and is unable to pull back into a tight, smooth shape once it has been pushed out.


Taking care of your skinAging skin in particular needs a little help in maintaining elasticity and moisture, but the younger a person starts to look after their skin, the better. Failure to implement a regular skin care routine may easily result in puffy, swollen eyes and ultimately bags. Preventing eye bags is far easier than reducing them once they have started to develop.

  • Sunlight Frequent extensive exposure to direct sunlight will age skin at incredible rates. In particular the very sensitive skin around the eyes dries out and loses elasticity very quickly. It therefore needs to be protected sufficiently. A sunscreen containing Vitamin C, as well as anti-oxidants, will help to prevent premature aging and the formation of bags.
  • Collagen As skin ages, it produces less collagen, resulting in loss of elasticity, one of the major culprits where eye bags are concerned. Regularly moisturizing skin, in particular with creams containing peptides or retinol – both of which stimulate the production of collagen – will help to prevent the problem.

Heredity Factor

  • Genetic Disposition How soon and/ or how badly an individual develops this problem is partly due to genetic influences. An individual with parents who have developed eye bags at a fairly young age is likely to develop them sooner, too.
  • Weak Capillaries The skin around the eyes is networked with capillaries. Weakening of these capillaries is a known hereditary condition and can be partly blamed for the developing of circular, bruise-like darkened areas around the eyes, as well as bags.
  • Weaknesses in Tissues Weak capillaries are often accompanied by other inherited weaknesses within tissues supporting the eyes. Such weaknesses further enhance an individual’s likeness of developing bags under their eyes.

Life Style

healthy lifestyleAnother important factor in developing puffy, swollen eyes or bags is an individual’s life style. Continual lack of sleep and/ or exercise, a bad diet, too much salt or caffeine, as well as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption all contribute to the development of puffiness and bags.

  • Sleep Regular, restful sleep is necessary to allow a body to regenerate and heal itself. Stress, uncomfortable sleeping positions or simply too many late nights all disrupt the natural sleeping pattern, resulting in premature aging of skin as well as many other potentially threatening health problems.

Taking time to relax and/ or meditate before attempting to go to sleep will reduce stressful thoughts whirring around one’s mind all night and promote better sleep, as will ensuring that the bed is as comfortable as possible.

This may mean investing in new pillows, a new mattress or maybe even a new bed, but the expense will ultimately be worth it as a comfortable, good nights sleep will drastically improve one’s overall well-being and reduce the risk of developing those annoying bags.

  • Exercise A regular exercise routine and plenty of fresh air promote better health and fitness all round, as well as stimulating circulation, thus ensuring adequate supply of blood and oxygen to all areas, including the skin.

In addition, fresh air and exercises often help to alleviate stress, reduce aches and pains from sitting for too long in office chairs and produce natural tiredness, subsequently aiding better sleep.

  • Diet A diet that is low in essential vitamins and elements starves the body of the vital ingredients it needs to maintain healthy looking, smooth and tight skin. As a result, the skin dries out, loses elasticity and sags, producing bags.

To prevent permanent, unsightly bags under the eyes, it is necessary to maintain a diet that is rich in vitamin C, K,  Eand B complex. Minerals such as copper, zinc and selenium, to name but a few, are also essential for healthy skin.

  • Alcohol Excessive consumption of alcohol not only dehydrates a body and causes fluid retention, one of the major causes of eye bags, it is also known to disrupt proper sleeping patterns, further heightening the risk of developing puffy eyes.

Drinking at least two pints, or just under a liter, of water before settling after a heavy nights drinking will help to alleviate the problem. While it is not absolutely necessary to go teetotal, reducing alcohol intake as a whole will help to prevent puffy eyes.

  • Caffeine and Salt Both too much coffee and salt intake throughout the day equally dehydrates one’s body and promotes fluid retention. Caffeine also acts as a stimulant and is highly likely to upset sleeping patterns. Intake of both substances should therefore be reduced drastically during the day, and preferably avoided altogether in the evenings.

Underlying Conditions

It is also possible for underlying conditions to be responsible for the appearance of eye bags. While some of them can affect the skin around the eyes directly, others are more indirect.

  • Colds and Chronic Sinus Conditions Colds or chronic sinus complaints can cause alternating swelling and deflation of the skin around the eyes. If left untreated, this will eventually result in the weakening of the skin, leading to the formation of bags.

Difficulties in breathing also lead to disrupted sleep, making the problem worse. Placing an additional pillow underneath the head to raise it during the night will assist in drainage and reduce the swelling until the condition has been effectively treated.

  • Nasal Allergies Often recognisable by accompanying watery, itchy eyes, the effects of nasal allergies are similar to those of colds or sinus conditions. As with these conditions, it is best to get the allergy treated as soon as humanly possible and assist drainage as described above until the situation is resolved.
  • Kidney Problems The kidneys work to detoxify all of the body, as well as regulating the volume of fluid contained within the body. Various kidney conditions can cause this process to be disrupted, leading to fluid retention and build-up of toxins, both of which can ultimately cause bags to be formed.

Getting such a condition diagnosed and treated by a health professional  is an absolute must, as eye bags are just one of the minor problems they can cause.

  • Thyroid Conditions Underactive thyroids can cause tiredness, often coupled with sleep disturbing depression, weight gain and dry skin, among other symptoms. This naturally forms a perfect recipe for the development of puffy eyes and eye bags. Again, this condition should be professionally diagnosed and treated at the earliest possible opportunity.

Fluid Retention

Sometimes excessive fluid will be retained for other reasons than those already mentioned above. Drinking enough water to keep the kidneys stimulated and assisting drainage, particularly during the night, is really all that can be done in such cases.

  • Weather Conditions Some people react to certain changes in weather conditions with fluid retention, in particular on hot, humid days. The best way to combat the onset of puffy eyes in this case is to try and keep as cool as possible and assist drainage by elevating the head during the night with an added pillow or wedge.
  • Hormonal Changes Many women suffer from fluid retention as part of their menstrual cycle or during pregnancy. Again, sufficient fluid intake and raising the head during the night will assist in preventing puffy eyes.

During pregnancy, however, it may become necessary to seek professional advice to deal with this problem, as it can present a serious risk to both mother and child if it gets out of control.

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