What Are the Common Causes of Dark Circles and Puffy Eyes?

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  • Written By: Deneatra Harmon
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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Dark circles and puffy eyes come from several factors, including lifestyle, heredity, and aging, as well as allergies and illness. Cover-ups and other self-care methods often hide or treat puffy eyes and eye circles, but doctor’s care may be necessary if the appearance worsens over time. Some experts offer suggestions for preventing puffy eyes, such as change in diet or modification to daily schedule.

Sometimes, diet and everyday life contribute to dark circles and puffy eyes. For example, foods high in salt cause fluid retention in the body, and therefore can cause eye puffiness. Heavy consumption of caffeine and alcohol also increases the chances of developing dark circles because these beverages cause some dehydration. Like caffeine and alcohol, smoking also takes a toll on the eyes, as well as periods of high physical and emotional stress. Sleep deprivation can also dull the eyes rather than brighten them.

Swollen eyes and dark circles also run in families, particularly during the aging process. Medical experts note that skin eventually loses elasticity, causing collagen and fat loss under the eyes. Over time, such fat loss leads to loose skin, or bags under the eyes. The extent of the puffiness and the time when it forms depends on when a person’s parents started developing the condition. Darkening of the skin, or hyperpigmentation, and broken blood vessels often contribute to dark circles under the eyes.


Symptoms associated with certain medical conditions may also cause swollen eyes and eye circles. Nasal allergies or sinus problems lead to eye circles because the congestion, and itchy, watery eyes eventually cause the eyes to dilate, and then darken over time. Dark circles and swelling can also result from skin irritations or conditions such as eczema, especially if there is itching that causes the person to constantly scratch or rub near or around the eyes.

Home and over-the-counter remedies can help to prevent or reduce dark circles and puffy eyes. For starters, a cold compress or a gel eye mask treats puffy eyes when used for no longer than 15 minutes. At least eight hours of sleep, with a couple of extra pillows for elevation, helps to prevent fluid from forming in the eyelids and causing bags. Creams made with vitamin C, retinol, or hydroquinone may also work for hiding dark circles, while the right shade of concealer can cover them. Depending on the eye condition, a dermatologist may surgically remove puffiness through a procedure called blepharoplasty, or apply injectable fillers to improve skin elasticity.

Some measures can be taken to reduce or prevent puffy eyes and dark eye circles altogether. In addition to getting enough sleep, experts recommend reducing salt intake and cutting back on alcohol and caffeine. Eliminating irritants from the home reduces allergy symptoms as well as the associated eye circles and puffiness.


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Post 3

I don't have puffy eyes every day but I always have dark circles. I asked my doctor about it and he said that it's hereditary. Apparently, the skin underneath my eyes are naturally thin and the darkness is due to the blood vessels that can be seen. That's why no matter what product I use, these dark circles don't go away. I always use concealer to cover them up.

I only have puffy eyes when I stare at a computer screen for a long time and when I cry. It's like the tears fill up my upper and lower eyelids instead of tearing down. It's strange.

Post 2

@SarahGen-- You are absolutely right. Among the many negative side effects of alcohol and tobacco consumption are dark circles and puffy eyes. It has to do with toxins and it also has to do with alcohol's relationship with ADH or anti-diuretic hormones. So alcohol can affect the elimination of fluids from the body and lead to fluid retention. One area where this may occur is around the eyes.

I also think that people who drink and smoke also have irregular sleep habits and may not get enough rest. Fatigue and lack of sleep are obviously other major causes of dark circles and puffy eyes. So both exacerbate these side effects.

Post 1

I don't know how, but I can always tell if someone consumes a lot of alcohol and/or smokes from their eyes. People who drink and smoke tend to have dark eye circles and large bags under their eyes. I guess too many toxins has this affect on the eyes.

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