What Are the Common Causes of Swollen Puffy Eyes?

Allergies may cause swollen puffy eyes.
Anatomy of the human eye.
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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2014
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There are several potential issues that can lead to swollen puffy eyes but there are a few culprits that are more common than the rest. Allergies are generally the most frequent cause, and these will usually be accompanied by other symptoms, including sneezing and drainage from the eye. Another common cause is water retention, which can be triggered by metabolic processes, certain dietary choices, and natural body cycles. Sometimes swollen puffy eyes are caused by general inflammation, either from some kind of irritation in the eye itself or an inflammatory disease that causes widespread symptoms around the body.

Most of the time, swollen puffy eyes aren’t really a serious condition. Given enough time, the swelling will generally subside on its own and there aren’t usually any further complications. Some people consider swollen eyelids to be a serious cosmetic concern, and for those individuals, figuring out exactly what is causing the swelling in the first place can be a top priority.


Swollen puffy eyes are usually the result of an allergy. Eyelid inflammation is often a normal part of the process of an allergic reaction, which might also include nasal drainage, coughing, and excessive tear production. Sometimes these kinds of allergic responses can be serious, and might include swelling of the tongue, airway blockage, and other potentially life-threatening issues. Usually, however, they come from minor irritants, and the symptoms don’t reach a dangerous level. When swollen puffy eyes are caused by an allergy, certain medications can be helpful, and avoiding the allergen responsible is also a good idea if it’s possible for the individual to do so.

The eyelids are one of the areas where excess water is sometimes stored, so when the body starts retaining water for some reason, swollen puffy eyes are very likely. For example, if someone drinks too much alcohol, he is likely to suffer from dehydration and the body will generally start retaining water, possibly leading to eyelid swelling. Feminine body cycles can also lead to water retention, and many experts believe certain dietary choices can make the body retain water, including the overconsumption of sodium. If the problem is caused by water retention, taking in some extra water can sometimes reduce the swelling.

Inflammatory diseases involving the autoimmune system can cause abnormal swelling around the body, including the eyelids. If the problem comes from an autoimmune disease, there will often be other symptoms as well, such as swelling in other areas and pain in the joints. Additional causes include a lack of sleep, dryness of the eyes caused by being outdoors in the wind, and injury to the eyelids from foreign particles.


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Post 1

An eye infection or a growth on the eye such as a stye can cause swollen, puffy eyes as well. Sometimes, it can be difficult to differentiate between an infection and eye allergies. This is especially true if one has eye allergies often. It's important to see an eye doctor if the swelling doesn't go away.

I've had both eye infections and eye allergies in the past. I have needed antibiotic eye drops for the infection and allergy eye drops for allergies. But the best home remedy is making a hot compress with boiled hot water or hot tea, such as chamomile tea. It reduces swelling and relieves any itching as well. It also kills bacteria and cleans up discharge.

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