Under eye bags are described as the presence of swellings or “bags” within the lower eyelid skin that cause them to look much more pronounced. The presence of these bags is usually genetically predetermined in those who develop them as teens or young adults, and considered more age-related for those in their 50s and up.
Some people who develop under eye bags claim that this aesthetic condition makes them appear “tired,” which could equate to looking older than a person actually feels. In some cases, individuals will undergo an under eyelid surgery to make their eyes appear more youthful.
Fortunately, there are several natural treatments and home remedies that can be utilized to help diminish the appearance of under eye bags – without going under the knife.
This article offers some of the best natural treatments and home remedies for under eye bags, from cool compresses to sliced cucumbers, as well as instructions on how to use each method for maximum effectiveness. The treatments and home remedies recommended by our experts are not only simple, but the majority are relatively inexpensive because they require items you might already have at home.
We’ve also provided some preventive measures that you can incorporate into daily life that can help diminish the appearance of under eye bags, whether they are already present or in the process of developing.
Let’s begin by briefly discussing what, exactly, under eye bags are and some of their causes.
What Causes Under Eye Bags?
Under eye bags is the term for noticeable puffiness or pouches that can develop under the eyes, usually occurring with aging and genetics, said Dr. Kally Papantoniou, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in cosmetic, laser and surgical dermatology in New York City.
The average age under eye bags start to develop is in our mid-30s and 40s, she said.
“Under eye bags are usually caused by either the weakening of structural collagen and walls of the area under the eye which allows fat pockets to protrude, or can be the result of chronic swelling and water retention which can happen due to allergies, medications, sensitivity to salty foods, and certain disorders,” Dr. Papantoniou explained.
There are two main reasons for under eye bags, noted Dr. Ted Lain, a board-certified dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas.
One reason is “herniation” of fat through the muscle of the lower eyelid.
“This cannot be improved without surgery, wherein the surgeon makes an incision on the inside of the lower eyelid, pulls the fat back through the muscle, then sews the muscle back together to prevent the same issue from occurring in the future,” Dr. Lain explained.
The other reason for bags under eyes is lymphatic swelling.
“The lymph system is a waste pathway, and accumulation of lymph fluid can occur quite often in the lower eyelids,” Dr. Lain said.
Fortunately, if under eye bags are a result of allergies or water retention, then they may be possible to diminish with home remedies or natural treatments, which we cover in the next section.
Keep in mind that the following natural treatments and home remedies may be worth trying for temporary relief, but overall improvement will likely only be mild. The longer lasting option listed below is ultrasound waves, which are considered a natural treatment performed in an office that can produce noticeable results with several sessions.
6 Natural Treatments and Home Remedies for Under Eye Bags
For chronic under eye bags, it is best to have realistic expectations, Dr. Papantoniou emphasized.
“However, with simple at home treatments, mild improvement may be noticed depending on the cause, and perhaps worsening can be prevented,” she said. “Topical remedies will only provide temporary relief, so any claims of cures should be taken as false advertisement – expect only mild improvement.”
The first five natural treatments and home remedies – including how to utilize them the most effectively to diminish under eye bags – are recommended by Dr. Papantoniou.
“These harmless at home remedies as described may be worth trying for temporary relief to reduce eye bags,” she said. “Be aware that improvement will likely be mild only, but useful to obtain some results.”
1. Cool Compress or Gel Refrigerator Packs
For puffiness in the under eye area, using a cool compress, or gel refrigerator packs may help to minimize temporarily the appearance. This is accomplished by vasoconstriction and anti-inflammatory properties of a cool pack.
“It is best not to put on anything too cold,” Dr. Papantoniou advised.
Rather, it is best to purchase a gel pack that is designed to apply directly to your skin around the eyes, otherwise, a cool pack that is too cold can be damaging.
“It is not recommended to cool the area for more than 15 minutes,” Dr. Papantoniou said. “Doing this first thing in the morning can help reduce the appearance of puffiness for the day. This can be done daily as needed.”
2. Sliced Cucumbers
Applying sliced cucumbers to the under eye area will help to cool the skin, which ultimately reduces swelling. Cucumbers also contain antioxidants which can help reduce inflammation.
Dr. Papantoniou recommends applying slices of refrigerated cucumber to closed eyes and leaving the slices on for 10 to 15 minutes. This can be done daily as needed, and two to three times per week for maintenance.
3. Chamomile Tea Bags
Chamomile tea bags can be steeped, then cooled and applied to the delicate area around the eye.
“If you refrigerate the bags this will help reduce swelling, and the soothing antioxidants in the chamomile will help reduce inflammation,” Dr. Papantoniou explained.
Steep the tea bags for three minutes; then place the bags in the refrigerator for three to four hours. Next, apply the tea bags from the refrigerator on lower eyelid areas for 10 to 15 minutes daily. This can be done daily as needed, and two to three times per week for maintenance.
4. Hemorrhoid Cream
Hemorrhoid cream can be used for swelling, because the same ingredient that causes vasoconstriction (phenylephrine) for hemorrhoids can help vaso-constrict eye bags, and will work for several hours to reduce swelling.
Preparation H also contains a low potency steroid which can help inflammation.
“There are some patients that have had allergic reactions, so trying it out on a test area for at least five days is recommended; also do not get cream in the eye,” Dr. Papantoniou advised.
This cream should not be applied more than once per day. For the best results, wash the area and pat it dry, and apply a small amount of the cream to the affected area.
“Improvement will only be temporary and can severely burn the eye so caution must be used to avoid the lower eyelid area,” Dr. Papantoniou said.
5. Ultrasound Waves
The use of ultrasound waves, administered through radiofrequency treatments known as the Exilis Elite, is another natural option that can reap great results.
These under eye tightening treatments utilize energy to naturally stimulate collagen production. The cost is $400 per session, and typically required three to four sessions for maximum results. After that, maintenance is recommended once or twice per year.
“This can help improve the integrity and strength of the skin in the lower eyelid area where bags develop,” said Dr. Papantoniou, noting there is no downtime at all. “Strengthening this area helps reduce the appearance of puffiness or eye bags, and within three to four sessions noticeable results can be attained.”
6. Gentle Massage With Moisturizer
Dr. Lain noted that the appearance of under eye bags can be diminished with something as simple as a gentle massage with a moisturizer.
He said if the under eye bags are due to lymphatic swelling, which is most common in the younger population, improvement can be achieved with a gentle massage with a moisturizer starting near the nose and pushing the fluid down and away from the lower eyelids.
Help Diminish the Look of Under Eye Bags With Healthy Habits
In addition to natural treatments and home remedies for under eye bags, there are also healthy lifestyle habits you can incorporate into daily life that can help. Dr. Papantoniou recommends the following:
- Drink eight glasses of eight ounces of water daily
- Sleep on your back elevated with two to three pillows
- Reduce intake of salt, sugar, gluten and artificial sweeteners, which are inflammatory
“These practices will help reduce the progression of eye bag development,” Dr. Papantoniou said. “You can also reduce episodes of swelling by applying a cool compress and topical antioxidant to reverse swelling.”
Dr. Lain recommends reducing sodium in the diet, as well as getting adequate rest and exercise.
“Moisturizing the under eye area can also be preventative,” he added.
Final Thoughts on Natural Treatments & Home Remedies for Under Eye Bags
Depending on the severity of your under eye bags, a small improvement can be expected, but these expectations should remain realistic if you’re undergoing natural treatments or home remedies, Dr. Papantoniou said.
Individuals that can benefit the most from natural remedies include those who are suffering from under eye inflammation and swelling that can be improved with such methods; people with minimal or mild under eye bags; and individuals who know that plastic surgery is not an option for them.
“It is always a good idea to try to make your skin healthier and this can be worked on at home,” she said, “and if swelling, inflammation and irritation are factors for your individual case of under eye bags, then at home treatment can be relatively successful.”
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