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Causes of Swelling Under the Eyes

Should a swollen under eye be a cause of worry? It all depends upon the cause behind it. Read on to know various causes that lead to puffiness or swelling under the eyes.
Loveleena Rajeev
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Swollen under eyes are easily recognizable, and are a sign that reflects some kind of problem around the eye. Normally termed as 'under eye bags' or 'puffy eyes', it is characterized by an appearance of swelling in the tissues around the eyes also known as 'orbit'. The skin around our eyes is very sensitive and thin. Hence, any incidence of a swelling under the eyes is easily visible. Several causes that lead to the condition, are listed below.
Causes of Puffiness Under Eyes

Fluid Retention
: Hormonal changes in the body during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause can cause fluid retention in the subcutaneous tissues under the eyes causing it to swell.
Allergies: Allergic reactions to medication and environmental pollutants can result in leaks in the subcutaneous capillary beds that cause swelling under the eyelids as well as under eyes.
Periorbital Cellulitis: If the swollen under eye feels tender and painful to touch, and is accompanied by fever, then the cause for swelling could be a severe eye infection known as periorbital cellulitis. This infection occurs if there is a break in the skin around the eye, sinusitis infection, or an infection spread through blood.
Hypothyroidism: Facial puffiness and prominent swelling under the eyes are common symptoms of hypothyroidism, a condition characterized by insufficient production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland.
Skin Disorders: Skin infections like eczema, psoriasis, etc., when inflict the face especially close to the eyes, can inflame the area around the eyes causing them to swell.
Sleep Pattern: Too much, too little, or even disturbed sleep tends to strain the eyes causing them to puff, as the skin around the eyes and on the eyelids is too thin.
Crying: Crying for long swells the entire eye, as more blood flows through the eyes while crying, or it could be the salt in the tears that may cause fluid retention in the eye area.
Substance Abuse: Excess consumption of alcohol, drugs, or smoking make the eyes bloodshot, as well as lead to swollen under eyes.
Diet: A diet high in salty foods encourages fluid retention around the eyes causing them to puff.
Heredity and Age: Individuals with family history of swollen under eyes are more prone to it and are likely to develop it at some point in life. Aging is another contributing factor towards the occurrence of puffy under eyes.
Injury: Injury close to eyes or around the eyelids can also cause the eyes to swell.
Other Causes:
  • Blepharitis, inflammation of the eyelids
  • Use of faulty contact lenses
  • Acne rosacea
  • Corneal ulcer
  • Burns
  • Sty
  • Hyperthyroidism, overactive thyroid
  • Insect bites, stings
  • Use of certain medications
  • Tumor
  • Foreign particle in the eye
  • Stress, for example, excessive reading
  • Dehydration
In most scenarios, a puffy eye tends to disappear on its own, when given adequate remedial treatment or even rest. However, when accompanied with irritation, itchiness, pain, fever, or a distorted vision, it could be a symptom of other eye problems.
The treatment completely depends upon its cause. The easiest remedial action one can take is to apply an ice pack on the swollen area 3 to 4 times a day. Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night and keeping the head slightly raised while sleeping (by keeping an extra pillow) can prevent accumulation of fluid under the eyes. The causes can be best determined by an optometrist, who must be consulted if the swelling does not subside in some time.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.