Overview

Bags under eyes — mild swelling or puffiness under the eyes — are common as you age. With aging, the tissues around your eyes, including some of the muscles supporting your eyelids, weaken. Normal fat that helps support the eyes can then move into the lower eyelids, causing the lids to appear puffy. Fluid also may accumulate in the space below your eyes, adding to the swelling.

Bags under eyes are usually a cosmetic concern and rarely a sign of a serious underlying medical condition. At-home remedies, such as cool compresses, can help improve the appearance of bags under eyes. For persistent or bothersome under-eye puffiness, cosmetic treatments are available.

Symptoms

Bags under eyes can include:

  • Mild swelling
  • Saggy or loose skin
  • Dark circles

When to see a doctor

You may not like the way they look, but bags under eyes are usually harmless and don't require medical care. See your doctor if the swelling:

  • Is severe and persistent
  • Is accompanied by redness, itching or pain
  • Affects other parts of your body, such as your legs

Your doctor will want to rule out other possible causes that can contribute to the swelling, such as thyroid disease, infection or an allergy.

Causes

As you age, the tissue structures and muscles supporting your eyelids weaken. The skin may start to sag, and fat that is normally confined to the area around the eye (orbit) can move into the area below your eyes. Also, the space below your eyes can accumulate fluid, making the under-eye area appear puffy or swollen. Several factors can lead to this, including:

  • Fluid retention due to changes in weather (for example, hot, humid days), hormone levels or eating salty foods
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Allergies or dermatitis, especially if puffiness is accompanied by redness and itching
  • Heredity — under-eye bags can run in families
Sept. 26, 2014
References
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