JustAnswer Blog: Health

You are here

Why do I have bags under my eyes?

Woman who doesn’t need to ask: “Why do I have bags under my eyes?”

Getting enough sleep is crucial for good-looking eyes.

Why do I have bags under my eyes?

By Dhanesh Misir on March 12, 2018

Most of us get them, but why? “Do I have bags under my eyes” might not be a fun question to ask, but we do have some answers.

It generally happens to us as we get older, but is it completely unavoidable? Is it one of the few certainties of life, nestled between the eternal specters of death and taxes? Regardless of where reality stands, one thing is undeniable – no one enjoys spotting dark circles under their eyes.   

“But why do I have bags under my eyes?” you might ask, and there is no single answer to the question. Even though this is usually a cosmetic issue, and not a real threat to your health, the embarrassment of having pronounced bags under one’s eyes can make finding a remedy extremely important for quality of life.  

While it does typically happen to us as we get older, and the tissues around our eyes naturally begin to weaken and sag, there are also other causes. Some of them can contribute to a much more rapid onset of eye bags, but luckily, just as there are different causes to consider, there are also treatments and solutions that might help.

Looking at causes for dark circles under eyes

As we get older, the muscles and tissue structures responsible for supporting our eyelids get weaker. Not only does this contribute to sagging skin, but the fat typically located around your eyes could end up moving into the area below them. Some of the more common, and less long-term, sources of eye bags include:  

  • Poor sleeping habits – Fatigue, such as what a person experiences if they can’t maintain a proper sleeping pattern, can make the bags under your eyes more prominent. Getting enough sleep can help, but better sleep habits would need to be maintained for lasting results. 
  • Fluid accumulations – Dark circles under eyes can also result from fluid retention, which may occur if there have been recent changes to your hormones or local weather patterns. 
  • Consuming too much salt will also cause fluid retention, including the kind that leads to under-eye bags.   
  • Not rinsing your face and hair properly – This one might be surprising, but the inflammation that leads to eye irritation and dark circles can actually be caused by shampoo or facial cleaner residue left behind in the folds of your eyelids. Makeup only makes this worse, so being more thorough when cleaning up might just improve your condition.
  • Losing too much weight – Weight-loss is always good… until it’s not. Losing too many pounds over too short a time-frame costs you some of the volume in your cheeks. This can make your skin appear more saggy, which includes those frustrating bags. 
  • Sinus or allergy problems – Allergies can result in puffy eyes, and issues with your sinuses, like sinusitis, can lead to bags under your eyes. Dr Bhumika, an Allergy Specialist on JustAnswer, confirms this: “Yes, (a) sinus problem does cause eye bags due to the excessive blood flow and inflammation in the region. The sinus problem or Sinusitis can be treated by antibiotics and nasal decongestants.” 
  • Genetics – Unfortunately, sometimes puffy eyes and dark circles run in families. If your bags are the result of your genetics, you likely won’t be able to rid yourself of them entirely. Improvement is always possible, however.

     Taking the right precautions can reduce the appearance of puffy eyes. 

How to remove eye bags with lifestyle changes

Methods for removing eye bags can vary, but in many cases, making the necessary changes to your everyday habits can improve the condition. There are some limitations to keep in mind, however. Dr. Charles, a Medical Expert on JustAnswer, has words of warning for people seeking information on how to remove eye bags that stem from one’s genetics: 

Unfortunately, as your dark circles are hereditary, no amount of naps or antihistamines can get completely rid of them,” he says, before stating that treatments “can help to greatly reduce the darkness, but eradicating it completely is not assured.”  

Bleak as this may seem for those of us who have hereditary dark circles, the following lifestyle adjustments can still help:  

  • Manage your salt intake – Although more often talked about in reference to hypertension, excessive sodium in your diet can lead to puffy eyes. Try cutting down on your salt intake, and swap your usual brand for Himalayan sea salt.  
  • Remove all makeup before sleeping – It might be easier to just flop into bed and put this off until morning, but leaving your makeup on can cause eye irritation and puffiness.
  • Get enough sleep – This is easier said than done, with how hectic life can get. But ensuring that your sleep pattern is healthy and sustainable can make your skin look better. It will also help you feel better in general. Sleeping more on your back can also help fend off fluid retention in your face.  
  • Cut down on booze and tobacco – Both alcohol and cigarettes can dehydrate your skin, leading to sunken, dark cheeks and accelerated aging around your eyes. To reduce the droop, try limiting yourself to one glass of alcohol a day, and cut out the smoking for good. 
  • Protect your skin from the sun – The sun is the giver of life, but it also gives hydration issues to skin that has been exposed too much. Too much sunlight can cause the skin around your eyes to wrinkle and sag. Sunscreen and UV-protective sunglasses can make a big difference. 

Looking into puffy eye remedies

The treatments available for under-eye bags tend to be less invasive, given that the issue isn’t typically a health risk. However, it’s worth seeking help for children with bags under eyes, since the problem occurs naturally in older individuals.  

Some of the remedies that have helped eye-bag sufferers include:  

  • Cool compresses, which can reduce appearance of dark circles and bags 
  • Allergy medications, if you believe your allergies have caused puffy eyes  
  • Wrinkle and skin treatments, like chemical peels or laser resurfacing 
  • Surgery, more specifically a blepharoplasty, which can remove bags from under the eyes. This comes with additional risks, however.  

It’s important to note that not every puffy eye remedy will work for whoever tries it. Dr. Nair, a dermatologist on JustAnswer, makes this clear: "Improvement in eye bags is very patient-specific,” he warns, advising against making assumptions. “Some improve and some don't.”   

If you were previously dealing with the question: “Why do I have bags under my eyes?”, hopefully you’ve discovered the answer. As for whether you can get rid of those troublesome dark circles, only time will tell. Just be sure to try out what you learned here, and for more information, you can always turn to the Experts on JustAnswer!  

Do you have bags under your eyes? Do you want to talk about them? No? Do it in the comments anyway!