Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Reduce Under-eye Puffiness

There are many causes and almost as many supposed cures for under-eye puffiness. Lack of sleep, a sinus infection, salty food, a lack of exercise and even your sleep position can play a role in this undesirable issue. And then there's the cause that no one wants to talk about – age. Like it or not, your face – like every other part of your body – changes with time. Ligaments stretch, muscles weaken and fat becomes readily apparent. The facial skin becomes less elastic, particularly after the age of 40, and the sags turn to bags.

Those are the facts but what about the solutions?

Some remedies are nothing more than rumors and old wives' tales. Take hemorrhoid cream. Yes, hemorrhoid medicine. The mistaken belief is that the vasoconstrictors in the ointment will do the same magic on the eyes that they do elsewhere. A vasoconstrictor is a component of the medicine that shrinks blood vessels. That's great when the very nature of your problem is swollen veins (that's what hemorrhoids are.) Swollen veins, however, have nothing to do with under-eye puffiness. So put away the hemorrhoid cream.

If your under-eye puffiness seems to be caused by a sinus infection, which has resulted in fluid retention, it can help to alter your sleep position until that infection has passed. Try using an extra pillow to prevent the fluid from concentrating below your eyes. If the sinus infection returns repeatedly, try to minimize the amount of allergens in your bedroom and rid that sleeping area of dust mites. The same goes for allergies – identify the cause of the irritation and change the elevation of your head on your bed. A trip to your local drug store for a good dose of antihistamines is also probably in order.

If you've noticed that the bags under your eyes are particularly predominant after a string of long work days or nights out on the town, then adjust accordingly. You may not be able to change the workload or the amount of sleep but you can eliminate secondary causes like bad eating habits and lack of exercise. A high intake of salt will lead to water retention and, while it may sound counterintuitive, drinking more water will actually help your body flush the fluids that are causing under-eye puffiness.

A nearly immediate, albeit temporary, solution for under-eye puffiness may be found in your refrigerator. A couple cool slices of cucumber placed under the eyes can reduce swelling. Out of cucumbers? Cooled tea bags or a cold washcloth will work just as well.

Click ahead to discover the single biggest cause of under-eye puffiness.