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What can I do About Swollen Eyes?

By Ron Marr
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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One day you are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, enjoying life and looking fresh as a daisy. The next day, you awake to eyes that are red, swollen, and puffy. This is no cause for alarm, and certainly nothing to cry about. In fact, crying is the last thing you should do, for it will only make your eyes more swollen. To really treat — or prevent — swollen eyes, you need to know what's causing them. Often, washing the face with cool water, using a cold compress, eating a healthy diet, and getting plenty of rest can help relieve them.

Swollen eyes can be brought on by a host of causes. Stress, hormonal changes, crying, insomnia, and imbibing in a bit too much alcohol can all be contributing factors. A diet high in salt, or drinking too much water at bedtime, can result in fluid retention. Even factors as simple as irritating contact lenses or a speck of migrant dust can cause eyes to appear puffy and swollen.

Puffy, red eyes could be caused by allergic conjunctivitis. This is another name for simple hay fever, and it is usually brought on by an allergy, infection, a sluggish immune system, or general irritation. Eye drops containing antihistamines will normally cure allergic conjunctivitis in short order, but don’t be use them too often, or you may make the problem worse.

In the vast majority of cases, the best way to care for swollen eyes is to rely on tried and true home remedies. Washing your face with cool water will often remove the irritant that is causing the swelling, and your eyes will return to normal within a few hours. A cold compress placed over closed eyes can reduce inflammation, whereas a warm compress will help relieve any minor pain or discomfort. Topical creams containing vitamin E or aloe vera extract may prove beneficial as well.

In almost every instance, given a bit of time and a bit of rest, puffy eyes will take care of themselves. If you are sensitive to the various airborne allergens especially prevalent during the spring months, it might be wise to try and stay indoors on days with an excessively high pollen count. One of the best recommendations is to get plenty of sleep, as burning the candle at both ends is a near certain invitation to tired eyes.

In a few rare cases, swollen eyes can be a symptom of something more serious. If your eyes are burning, if you are dizzy, or if swelling persists or worsens, then the time has come to visit a medical professional. This is a very unlikely scenario, but when it comes to your eyes, the best philosophy is one of better safe than sorry.

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Discussion Comments

By anon296221 — On Oct 10, 2012

Another thing that works great is rinsing your eye in cold water (to make sure nothing is still irritating it) then put a slice of tomato on your eye for half an hour to an hour (or more if you want). The nutrients in it help swelling and redness to go down. Also, don't wear contacts for about a day to avoid more irritation.

By Charmagne — On May 26, 2011

I get swollen, red eyes during allergy season. I do try to stay in side on days with high pollen counts. But, it’s not realistic to never leave the house on those days. I usually go for a non-drowsy antihistamine paired with eye drops designed to soothe eyes irritated by allergens.

By oopart28 — On May 24, 2011

My favorite cure for swollen eyes is a simple home remedy. Slice up some cucumber! I have read that it really only works if the slices are cold. Even so, cucumber slices are convenient and inexpensive. I don’t have the money to try out expensive eye creams.

You can also use tea bags. These also need to be cold. An added bonus with teas including green tea, black tea, and oolong tea are the tannins. These tannins help tighten up the skin under the eye. In fact, the reason Preparation H is used as an eye cream is because it contains tannins, too.

By liz1103 — On May 22, 2011

When I first brought my daughter home from the hospital, we didn’t sleep more than an hour at a time. Actually, this went on for several months. It seemed like I always had puffy eyes from sleep deprivation. Not exactly refreshing to glance in the mirror and manage to look even worse than you feel!

I found a gel pack eye mask that could be refrigerated. It not only helped with the puffiness, but it was soothing, too. Of course, it didn’t help me get more sleep, but at least I looked a little more rested.

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