Undereye bags, like most signs of aging, are most often the result of years of UV damage. When UV damage accumulates, the skin around the eyes becomes noticeably thinner. The effect is most pronounced in the underlying layer of skin, the dermis. Gravity pulls the thinned skin downward. In the process, some small blood vessels may start to leak, impairing the drainage of lymph.
Other factors that impair the circulation make under eye bags even worse. This is because they hinder the drainage of lymph even more. These factors include alcohol, excess salt consumption, and allergies.
Of course, sometimes under eye bags are the result of hereditary factors. I have seen children as young as 3 with signs of under eye bags. When under eye bags are caused by heredity and not environmental factors, a surgery called lower eye blepharoplasty has been shown to help. However, it is always best to consult with your physician and/or plastic surgeon to determine if this procedure is right for you.
Other strategies that may help:
REDUCE SODIUM INTAKE.
The FDA recommends that the average 150-pound adult consume no more than 2300 mg of sodium (1 tsp of salt) per day. In addition, groups at particular risk for high blood pressure should pare back even more. These at-risk groups include African-Americans, older individuals, and those with high blood pressure.
Despite these recommendations, one recent survey amongst 7154 people found that reducing sodium intake below 2300 mg made patients 37% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease. At any rate, the average American consumes 2900 to 4300 mg of sodium per day, a good 600 to 2000 mg above the “dangerous” lower baseline. Discuss with your physician if you are concerned. It is likely you will notice a slight to moderate improvement in the appearance of under eye bags with proper sodium reduction.
APPLY A BAG OF WELL-THAWED FROZEN PEAS OR A CHILLED SPOON UNDER EYES FOR 10 MINUTES.
It sounds surprising, but it works wonders! Take a bag of frozen peas out of the freezer, let it thaw for about ten minutes, wrap the bag in a paper towel, and then hold the bag+towels under your eyes for about ten minutes. According to dermatologist of Rodan+Fields, “The reason frozen peas work so well in particular is that the little peas settle and mold to the eye area.”
Short on peas? Chill a metal-based spoon in the freezer before bed, wrap in a paper towel, and hold the spoon under your eyes for 1 to 2 minutes.
ELEVATE YOUR HEAD WHILE SLEEPING.
While sleeping, your circulation is weaker than at any other time of day. This may result in an accumulation of fluid in the blood vessels. Elevating your head while sleeping, using an extra pillow or wedge-shaped pillow, shows mild to moderate improvement in many individuals. If you’re serious about removing your under eye bags, the MedSlant sleeping system ($79.95) may be helpful to you. It keeps you elevated and comfortable throughout the night by ensuring your position is ergonomically correct.
APPLY COLD TEA BAGS TO CLOSED EYELIDS FOR 10 MINUTES.
Dr. Leslie Baumann, author of The Skin Type Solution, once said: “The caffeine shrinks blood vessels, which helps reduce swelling and redness.” Dermatologist Dr. David Leffell, M.D. a professor at Yale, adds that tannic acid from the tea may temporarily tighten the skin. Tea bags should be dipped in cold water and placed onto closed eyelids for three to four minutes.
Caution should be taken, however, to avoid Earl Grey tea, according to Dr. Douglas Altchek, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine: “[Earl Grey] has oil of bergamot, which may cause the redness and itching of contact dermatitis.”
APPLY CUCUMBERS UNDER EYES FOR 10 MINUTES.
Photo source: These Cucumber Eyes, originally uploaded by P.E.N..
According to Dr. Karyn Grossman, chief of the division of dermatology at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, “Cucumber slices have soothing and anti-irritating properties.” Place the cucumber slices in a bowl of ice water for ten minutes, and then apply them to eyes for ten minutes to deflate the area.
LIMIT USE OF ALCOHOL, REMOVE EYE MAKE-UP BEFORE BED, AND BEWARE OF CONTACT LENS IRRITATION.
All have been associated with puffy eye formation.
WHAT IF NONE OF THE ABOVE HELPS ME?
Bags are rarely caused by an underlying medical condition. However, it never hurts to ask your doctor if the aforementioned at-home remedies do not work for you. There may be another cause, such as seasonal allergies or even an allergic reaction. Be proactive and find out!
Top photo source: Remove Eye Bags, originally uploaded by mysoxpro2000.
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