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What's to blame for your under eye bags?

Unsightly as they are, under eye bags are not a hopeless case. Understanding the key causes of these fretful facial features is an important step in reaching a remedy. Here are some words of wisdom about the leading causes of under eye bags and the best ways to deal with them.

Aging, Heredity, and Sleepy Eyes

Yes, the fountain of youth is one myth that many of us wish we could prove true, but the reality is that we cannot turn back the clock. "With the aging process, the ligaments underneath your eyes that hold back fatty tissue begin to weaken, and the tissue can fall forward to form under eye bags," comments Ryan Nakamura, O.D., a VSP doctor at Natomas Optometry in Sacramento, CA.

Along with age, heredity can be another eye bag initiator. Even though you can't treat the underlying cause, getting creative with a quality concealer and some revitalizing cream is a promising approach to disguising your sag bag "inheritance."

Another cause of under eye bags is simply the stillness of sleeping. These "rise and shine" morning eyes appear because your circulatory system moves more slowly when you are sleeping, leaving excess fluid beneath the eyes. A less-than-rested body (or a stressed one) can prevent your circulatory system from flushing out this extra fluid even after you have been awake for awhile. "Morning eye bags or puffiness is normal," says Dr. Nakamura, "but eye bags that persist throughout the day can be a sign that your body needs more sleep. Eight hours a night is a good goal."

Although age, heredity, and sleepy eyes are leading causes of under eye bags, Dr. Nakamura tells us, "there are many less common causes such as sinus infections, thyroid or kidney problems, hormonal imbalances, food or dust allergies, iron deficiency, excessive caffeine, and smoking."

What Can I Do About It?

We all know we should sleep more and try to eliminate stress in our lives, but how can we deal with our under eye bags in the meantime? Dr. Nakamura suggests trying the following remedies:

  • Try a cold compress over the eyes. This will help to reduce swelling.
  • Brew two green tea bags and let them cool. Lay them across your eyes for about 10 minutes to promote circulation and reduce puffiness.
  • Elevate the head while sleeping, and let gravity do the work of preventing fluid buildup.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that encourage fluid retention such as alcohol, coffee, white sugar, fried foods, white flour, and salt. Also, keep the carbohydrates to a minimum.

Dr. Nakamura reminds us, "If your eye bags persist for longer than a week or rapidly get worse, consult your health care provider because this could be a sign of a more significant underlying medical issue."

So there you have it—there is hope for those less than lovely under eye bags. Keep up the good fight and take care of your body!