What can you do for puffy allergy eyes

Inflammation (due to allergy, infection, or injury), infection and trauma can every cause swelling of the eyelids. In come cases swelling of the eyelid may be the only symptom, but in others the eyelid is also likely to be red, itchy, gritty or sore.

Eyelid irritation

The eyelids can become puffy, swollen and red just because they are irritated by grit, dust or bonfire or cigarette smoke, without a true allergic reaction. Your eyes will generally be red and watery too.

Fluid retention due to other medical conditions

Fluid can collect throughout the body if you are retaining fluid — a condition called oedema. Whilst fluid retention is often noticeable in the fingers, around the lips and lower face, around the feet and ankles, and in the lower part of the back, you may notice it first in your eyelids because of the effect this has on your facial appearance.

By Klaus D Peter (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Fluid retention and tissue swelling of this type can happen because of generalised allergic reactions (see below) or because you are retaining fluid due to medication or to a medical condition such as heart failure or pre-eclampsia (a condition related to pregnancy).

Intravenous fluids given as part of medical treatment can sometimes cause facial and eyelid swelling, particularly if you own to be given a lot of fluids quickly (for example, because of dehydration).

This is particularly likely if you are unwell and own been lying flat, so that the additional fluid has tended to collect in the face and eyelids and has not yet dispersed evenly. However, generalised swelling due to medical treatment is more often an allergic reaction than an ‘expected’ reaction of this sort.

Head trauma

A little but significant addition to the information on black eye is that a significant head injury, causing a fracture of the base of the skull, can cause two swollen black eyes, sometimes called ‘raccoon eyes’.See the separate leaflet called Head Injuries.

ByMarion County Sheriff’s Office, via Wikimedia Commons

Eyelid trauma and black eye

Any direct injury to the eyelid will tend to make it swell and bruise, and the swelling is often extremely much worse the next day.

A black eye can be caused by direct injury to the eyelid, but commonly also results from a blow to the nose or forehead. A blow to the nose often results in black eyes on both sides — and cosmetic surgery to the nose or face can own the same result.

By Pavel Ševela (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

The looseness of the eyelid skin means that blood can easily pool in this area after injury — and where blood pools, swelling will follow. As the black eye heals, the swelling gradually decreases, and the bruise goes through several stages before fading.

What can you do for puffy allergy eyes

It can be several weeks after this until the swelling is completely gone. See the separate leaflet called Dealing With Eye Injuries.

Facial, nose or eyelid surgery

Eyelid surgery, sometimes done to correct entropion or ectropion (see above), or for cosmetic reasons, is an example of intentional injury to the eyelids which causes bruising and swelling. The eyelids can be so swollen after eyelid procedures that you can’t see for several days.

See the separate leaflet called Eyelid Surgery.

Eyelid swelling and bruising also tend to result from other surgery to the nose and lower face. This is because the blood — and the swelling — from these procedures tends to track behind the skin of the face to areas where it can pool easily, and this includes the eyelids. The bruising and swelling can be dramatic and can take several weeks to settle below completely.

Angio-oedema (sometimes called angio-neurotic oedema)

This is a skin reaction, generally an allergic one, that tends to cause marked skin swelling, sometimes with itching. Mostly, it affects the eyelids and face — less often, the lining of the windpipe (which can make breathing difficult) and the hands and feet.

By James Heilman, MD, Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Angio-oedema is often allergic.

Generally the allergy is to something you own eaten, to medication, to something injected into the skin (usually an insect sting), or to something you own touched such as latex. It can sometimes be non-allergic, and be triggered by extremes of temperature, or by infections. Rarely, it can be an inherited condition. See the separate leaflet called Angio-oedema.


A stye is a common painful eyelid problem, where a little infection forms at the base of an eyelash, which becomes swollen and red, along with the surrounding edge of the eyelid. It looks love a pus-filled spot. However, the infection and inflammation often spread back into the lid to make the whole eyelid swollen.

It is generally red, as well as swollen, and can sometimes feel slightly sore. Study more about stye infections.


Conjunctivitis is inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, which is the smooth, shiny, translucent membrane that covers the white of the eye (sclera) and the underside of the eyelids. It can be caused by allergies and sensitivities (for example, to products put on to the eye), or by infection.

The main symptoms of conjunctivitis are redness of the eye, and a feeling of grittiness and mild soreness.

As conjunctivitis affects the underside of the eyelids, it can make the eyelids puffy and a little red, either because the infection spreads into the eyelid or because the eyelid becomes inflamed or reacts in an allergic manner due to the infection. See the separate leaflets called Allergic Conjunctivitis and Infective Conjunctivitis.


Sinusitis is generally caused by bacterial or viral infection, although it may also be caused by allergy. Sinusitis affecting the sinuses just beneath the eyes can cause puffiness around the eyes, affecting the eyelids.

The eyelids are not generally red, sore or itchy. See the separate leaflet called Sinusitis.

After crying

Most people will own noticed eyelid swelling after crying emotionally, particularly if this is prolonged. This occurs because the eyelids tend to absorb some of the additional tears, leading them to become temporarily swollen.

Eyelid sunburn

Sunburn of the eyelids happens easily, particularly if you drop asleep lying in the sun. The lids will be swollen, red and sore — but you are likely to own facial sunburn too, which will make the diagnosis obvious. Sunglasses assist protect the eyelids against sunburn.


Blepharitis means inflammation of the eyelids.

It makes the eyes and eyelids feel sore and gritty.

What can you do for puffy allergy eyes

They are often puffy, pink-red, and a little swollen, particularly along the lid edges. Blepharitis can be a troublesome and recurring condition, sometimes associated with other skin conditions such as rosacea and seborrhoeic dermatitis. Discover out more aboutblepharitis.

By clubtable (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons


A chalazion causes a lump or localised swelling in the eyelid, although it can cause the whole of the eyelid to swell, particularly if it becomes inflamed or infected.

A chalazion occurs when one of the Meibomian (or tarsal) glands in the eyelid becomes blocked, resulting in a little ( mm) fluid-filled swelling (cyst). A chalazion is more common on the upper eyelid. It is not generally red, itchy or painful. Discover out more about chalazion cysts.

Ectropion and entropion

An ectropion occurs when part or every of the lower eyelid turns outwards away from the eye. An entropion occurs where the lower eyelid turns in towards the eye, causing the eyelashes to rub against the front of the eye. The eyelids can occasionally become inflamed and a little swollen, although this is not generally dramatic, and they are not generally red or sore.

Read more detail aboutectropion and entropion.

Eyelid skin infection

Any infection in the skin of the eyelid will tend to cause marked swelling, with redness, itching and soreness. Infection can also spread to the eyelids from other parts of the face.

Infections of the skin include cellulitis, impetigo and erysipelas, which are diverse types of skin infection affecting diverse levels of the skin. You are more likely to develop a skin infection if the integrity of your skin is broken for some reason. This might include an insect bite, an injury, or another condition affecting the skin shut to the eye, such as eczema, chickenpox or shingles.

By Afrodriguezg (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Allergic eyelid swelling

Allergies happen when your body reacts to a foreign substance (called an allergen) by producing chemicals which cause swelling, redness and itching.

In the eyelid the swelling caused by allergic reaction can be fairly dramatic, since the eyelid tissue is stretchy and also tends to be fairly ‘reactive’ to allergic stimuli. Eyelids can react in an allergic manner to various triggers, including:

  1. Chemicals such as shampoo, make-up, eye drops and contact lens solution.
  2. Naturally occurring substances such as pollens, pet hair and organic dust.
  3. Infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria (which can therefore sometimes cause infection AND allergy at the same time).

Allergic eyelid swelling is often therefore fairly dramatic.

The eyelids can feel tight and may even be so swollen that you can’t open your eyes. Over time the additional fluid in the eyelids tends to drop downwards through the action of gravity to fill the area of the lower lid below to the top of the cheek, causing large ‘bags’ under the eyes.


Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, is a medical emergency. It is an extreme and generalised allergic reaction affecting most of your bodily systems.

What can you do for puffy allergy eyes

It can include dramatic eyelid swelling, which can be an early warning sign although it is not the most significant symptom. Anaphylaxis can cause faintness, breathing difficulties and collapse, and anaphylaxis tends to come on quickly, the full effects sometimes developing over a few minutes and generally within an hour of symptoms beginning. Occasionally, anaphylactic reactions to food can come on more than an hour after eating the food, but this is not the usual pattern. If you own marked eyelid swelling but own no other obvious developing symptoms, you are unlikely to be developing anaphylaxis. See the separate leaflet called Anaphylaxis.

Chemical irritation and burns

Some chemicals can irritate the eyelids, causing them to swell.

This can happen with some make-up products and soaps. Numerous people will be familiar with the eyelid irritation and swelling caused by chlorine in swimming pools. Tear gas, sometimes used to dispel crowds, causes swelling and inflammation of the eyelids, although sore and tearful eyes are the main symptoms of exposure.

Some chemicals can cause serious injury to the eyelids, beginning with swelling and pain. The causes include some everyday household chemicals such as oven cleaners, which contain strong alkali and which you might transfer to your eyelids by rubbing your eyes or because you get ‘blow-back’ from a spray device.

If you suspect a chemical injury to your eyelids or eyes you should wash them as thoroughly as you can.

Run 20 litres of water over them directly from the tap, keeping running water on your open eye or eyes for minutes, before seeking medical advice. See the separate leaflet called Dealing with Eye Injuries.

Anatomy of the eye

When you glance at an object you see it because light reflects off the object and enters your eye

Flu vaccination.
Protect yourself this autumn.

Find out if you are eligible for a free NHS flu vaccination.

Check eligibility

Symptoms of an allergic reaction usually develop within a few minutes of being exposed to something you’re allergic to, although occasionally they can develop gradually over a few hours.

Although allergic reactions can be a nuisance and hamper your normal activities, most are mild.

Very occasionally, a severe reaction called anaphylaxis can occur.

How to get rid of puffy eyes and dark circles

By Marilyn Haddrill; contributions and review by Charles Slonim, MD

Puffy eyes and dark circles under the eyes happen for numerous reasons, including inherited facial features, allergies, stress, eye fatigue and individual skin characteristics such as texture.

While certain home remedies such as soothing cucumber slices — or even anti-hemorrhoid creams such as Preparation H — may temporarily relieve puffy eyes, a more long-lasting solution depends on the underlying cause.

Schedule an exam.

What are eyelids made of?

Your eyelids are there to protect your eyes and to hold the surface of the eye (particularly the cornea, which is the clear part of the eye over the iris and pupil) from drying out.

Each eyelid consists of thin skin (with some pads of fatty tissue), muscle and a lid-shaped piece of thick fibrous material called the tarsal plate.

What can you do for puffy allergy eyes

These tarsal plates contain Meibomian glands which produce oily material which helps hold the eye and eyelid lubricated. The inside of each eyelid is lined by an inner layer of conjunctiva, a smooth translucent membrane which covers the inner surface of the eyelids and the outer surface of the white of the eye. The conjunctiva then reflects back on to the eye, so there is NO GAP at the edge of your eyelid below which you can lose a contact lens!

Your upper eyelid includes every of the skin from the lid edge up to your eyebrow whilst your lower eyelid ends where the thicker skin of your cheek begins.

What causes puffy eyes and dark circles under eyes?

Swelling around the eyes is caused by an excessive accumulation of fluids (edema) in the surrounding skin tissue.

Because the skin around the eyes is extremely thin, swelling and discoloration can be fairly prominent.

But why does fluid accumulate to form puffy eyes in the first place?

Puffy eyes generally result from a variety of factors, including:

  • Fatigue and lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Crying
  • Dehydration
  • Aging
  • Allergies that can cause inflammation and swelling
  • Overconsumption of salt, which causes fluid retention
  • Sinus problems
  • Inherited facial features

Unfortunately, numerous people own puffy eyes simply because this trait runs in their family.

With aging, eye puffiness can be caused in part when fatty tissue that ordinarily protects the eye inside the bony eye socket begins to shove forward and fill in spaces under the eye.

This happens because aging processes cause thinning of the membrane or "septum" that ordinarily holds back fat in both the upper and lower eyelids.

As the membrane thins, the fat herniates and pushes forward, causing puffy eyes and dark circles and bags under the eyes.

Unfortunately, numerous people own puffy eyes simply because this trait runs in their family.

With aging, eye puffiness can be caused in part when fatty tissue that ordinarily protects the eye inside the bony eye socket begins to shove forward and fill in spaces under the eye.

This happens because aging processes cause thinning of the membrane or "septum" that ordinarily holds back fat in both the upper and lower eyelids.

As the membrane thins, the fat herniates and pushes forward, causing puffy eyes and dark circles and bags under the eyes.

Why do I own puffy eyes when I wake up?

When we're sleeping, we don't blink. And this is part of the reason why eye puffiness develops.

Dark circles can form under the eyes from stress or lack of sleep.

Blinking for eyelids is love walking for legs. When idle, some people develop swelling in their lower extremities that goes away as soon as they start walking and muscles in the legs start "milking" the trapped fluids (edema), which are absorbed back into circulation.

A similar action takes put in the eyelids.

The closed, non-blinking eyelids during sleep potentially can swell in certain people prone to this problem. So in the mornings, you could wake up with unusually puffy, swollen eyelids. When you wake up and start blinking, some of the puffiness gradually goes away.

Do puffy eyes mean I own a medical condition?

When swollen eyelids happen suddenly, it might be a sign you own an underlying medical problem.

For example, people with thyroid eye disease can develop swelling of tissue and muscles around their eyes.

What can you do for puffy allergy eyes

Also, bulging eyes can signal a thyroid disorder known as Graves' disease.

Eye allergies also can cause swollen eyes. Other types of allergies, such as reactions to certain foods or chemicals, can cause swollen eyelids as well.

During an allergic reaction, certain cells in the body release a chemical called histamine. This can cause fluid to leak from blood vessels, resulting in edema and puffiness in surrounding tissues, including around the eyes.

Puffy, swollen eyelids and dark circles under the eyes can happen when you own an eye infection such as pink eye.

In some cases, inflammation from dry eye syndrome also can cause puffy eyes.

Kidney failure and other systemic diseases can cause swelling throughout the body, including around the eyes.

What can be done about puffy eyes and dark circles?

To discover the best solution for puffy eyes and dark circles, it's significant to identify the underlying cause.

If you own the same puffy appearance around your eyes as your mom or dad, it's probably an inherited trait.

In this case, you might desire to consider cosmetic eyelid surgery to get rid of the puffiness.

Puffy eyes due to aging also can be eliminated with cosmetic eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty).

You might desire to discuss with your eye doctor or cosmetic surgeon some of the other procedures available to lessen the appearance of puffy eyes and dark circles under the eyes. These include chemical peels and laser skin resurfacing.

Many temporary remedies also can assist reduce the swollen glance around eyes, such as:

  1. Using creams and other skin products specially formulated for use around the eyes
  2. Reducing salt in your diet
  3. Eating potassium-rich foods, such as bananas, to eliminate excess fluids in your body
  4. Applying cucumber slices or chilled tea bags over closed eyes
  5. Splashing freezing water over your face and eyes
  6. Drinking ample fluid to prevent dehydration
  7. Using eye drops for irritation caused by allergies, if appropriate
  8. Applying iced compresses when your lids are swollen
  9. Getting plenty of sleep

One of the most common home remedies for puffy eyes, as mentioned above, is use of hemorrhoid creams and ointments on the skin around your eyes.

A common athletic ingredient in these preparations is phenylephrine, which is a medication that constricts blood vessels.

This can own a potential dual effect on puffy eyelids and dark circles under the eyes. Constricting blood vessels may reduce the potential for leakage of fluid that causes puffiness. And if the dark circles under your eyes are caused by dilated blood vessels under the skin under your eyes, shrinking these blood vessels may reduce the darkness.

Be aware that there are risks associated with using hemorrhoid creams for puffy eyes and dark circles.

If you accidentally get these products in your eyes, you can experience a severe inflammatory response known as chemical conjunctivitis.

Before trying hemorrhoid cream or other home remedies for puffy eyes, enquire your eye doctor for advice about other treatment options that are safe and more effective.

NEED AN EYE EXAM?Find an eye doctor near you.

Page updated July


What can you do for puffy allergy eyes