Eye bags – causes, treatment

Bags under your eyes

Bags under the eyes are a cosmetic problem, the cause of which can often be traced back to a family predisposition. Depending on whether the symptoms are permanent or temporary, there are various treatment options to minimize the bags under the eyes.

What are eye bags?

Eye bags are visible swelling or sagging of the lower lid area of ​​both eyes. Bags under the eyes often extend to the base of the cheekbones and are also accompanied by a sagging of the upper eyelid area.

In severe cases, a skin fold develops at the bottom of the lacrimal sac and the entire lower eyelid is pulled down. This makes the reddish inner edge of the eyelid visible. The actor Horst Tappert † (“Derrick”), who made them his trademark, is still considered a prime example of severe bags under the eyes.

The popular explanation that all unshed tears accumulate in the tear sacs is definitely wrong. Even if the skin protuberances give the face a sad expression: It is not only depressed people who develop bags under the eyes.


Eye bags are caused by several factors. The genetic predisposition, which is responsible for the composition of the connective tissue, has the greatest influence. Age comes second: with increasing years, almost everyone develops a tendency to bags under the eyes.

If the connective tissue is stable by nature, it remains at a slight level, which is perceived as not very disturbing. Lifestyle also has an influence: Anyone who often suffers from dark circles under the eyes due to alcohol consumption or excessive smoking at a young age increases the likelihood that the connective tissue will no longer be able to counteract the accumulated toxins with increasing age:

The skin deteriorates, the tear sac is there. Disorders in the water balance (kidney or heart disease) are less common causes of bags under the eyes.

diseases with this symptom

  • renal insufficiency

Diagnosis & History

Diagnosing bags under the eyes is not difficult because they are clearly visible. Finding out the individual cause is more difficult. If bags under your eyes appear suddenly and feel like a bulging accumulation of water, it is worth going to the doctor if there are no obvious causes (dry eyes, conjunctivitis , lack of sleep or excessive crying).

Especially if the swelling does not go away quickly on its own or is accompanied by swelling in other areas of the body, the person concerned should be alert: Only a doctor can diagnose a previously undiscovered heart or kidney failure for sure.

If the tear sacs have developed over a longer period of time and feel more slack than tense, the doctor will diagnose a connective tissue weakness and make the prognosis that the tear sacs will no longer recede on their own.


When lymph flow loses its normal rhythm, fluid builds up under the eyes. The swelling caused in this way usually subsides within a few hours after getting up in the morning. Complications are not to be expected in these cases.

If the bags are caused by an allergy , the swelling can involve the entire eye. In rare cases, the eyes can even swell completely. However, this complication is only to be expected if the patient shows severe allergic reactions and the allergen cannot be found and avoided, or if the patient does not respond to the usual treatment methods.

If dry and inflamed eyes are the cause of bags under the eyes, complications usually affect the eyeball. For example, dryness and inflammation that are not treated can result in damage to the cornea.

However, puffiness under the eyes can also be due to age or hereditary predisposition. In these cases, the connective tissue loses its firmness and the fatty tissue under the eyes sags. Under this premise, extremely pronounced bags under the eyes often develop, which no longer recede on their own.

The swelling itself is harmless, but unfortunately those affected are often psychologically disfigured. The sagging lower limbs must then be surgically removed.

When should you go to the doctor?

Eye bags are not an independent clinical picture, but merely a symptom. Nevertheless, bags under the eyes can be caused for various reasons, so that a visit to the doctor is often unavoidable. In most cases, bags under the eyes are caused by poor lifestyle habits. A medical or drug treatment is not necessary in such a case, because the bags under the eyes will disappear completely on their own within several hours.

However, if the bags under the eyes persist for several days, then this appearance should definitely be evaluated by a doctor. It can hide a serious illness that requires medical treatment. It is not uncommon for conjunctivitis to be responsible for severe tear sacs. Conjunctivitis can be treated in advance by the affected person himself.

Anti-inflammatory active ingredients such as chamomile can effectively treat and contain the existing inflammation. However, if there is no significant improvement after a few days, then a visit to the doctor should not be put off. Otherwise, the existing inflammation can worsen considerably, so that pus fluid can even form. However, with appropriate treatment with medication, conjunctivitis can be treated effectively and within a short time. A clear improvement should already occur after a few days.

Treatment & Therapy

How bags under the eyes are treated depends on their type and cause. If a serious underlying disease has been ruled out, the doctor will first ask about your lifestyle in the case of swelling-related bags under the eyes, especially if the bags under the eyes are accompanied by dark circles.

Adequate sleep, plenty of mineral water, a healthy diet with little salt and avoiding alcohol and nicotine are often enough to eliminate the problem. Applying cool packs is also helpful. An old home remedy is applying hemorrhoid ointment that contains decongestants. However, hemorrhoid ointments containing cortisone should be avoided, as they weaken the skin and damage the connective tissue.

Water tablets should only be taken on medical advice. If sagging skin is the cause of the bags under the eyes, a cosmetic treatment with tightening agents can be considered in the early stages. However, their effect is only temporary, so applications must be repeated regularly to achieve a lasting effect. In severe cases, only surgical removal of the tear sacs as part of an eyelid lift can help.

Outlook & Forecast

Bags under the eyes are caused by a wide variety of factors, so that a prognosis or prospect in this context is very difficult. Because bags under the eyes are swelling of the lower eyelids, quickly cooling the affected area can be an effective treatment option. In such a case, a clear improvement should already be noticeable after a few hours.

But even without cooling the affected area, it is not uncommon for the bags under the eyes to disappear quickly. However, only if the bags under the eyes are not connected to any underlying disease. Poor lifestyle habits, such as little sleep or excessive alcohol consumption, also cause bags under the eyes. In such a case, cooling the affected areas does not help either.

Another cause can be inflammation in this area. A stye or conjunctivitis can also cause bags under the eyes. Without any medical treatment, such an inflammation can worsen immensely, so that pus can even form. However, if you consult a doctor promptly in such a case, you will be able to notice a significant improvement and alleviation of the respective inflammation within a few days.


If you want to prevent bags under your eyes, you should avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and cigarettes. Although hereditary factors cannot be influenced in this way, the development of the bags under the eyes can be delayed in this way. If you have particularly fine skin in the eye area, you can achieve that the skin remains elastic for longer and bags under the eyes do not develop so quickly by regularly applying care creams.

↳ Further information: Home remedies for bags under the eyes

You can do that yourself

Eye bags can be reliably alleviated with simple home remedies and natural active ingredients. Cooling applications such as a cold teaspoon under the eye or an ice pack after getting up can help acutely. Chamomile cream and similar preparations provide the skin with important moisture and have a decongestant effect. Used tea bags or coffee pods, which are cooled for a few minutes and then placed on the tear sacs, also promise quick help. A quark mask stimulates blood circulation in the sensitive skin under the eyes and reduces swelling.

Bags under the eyes can also be alleviated by regular massages with sesame oil or a vitamin E ointment. Alternatively, a lymphatic drainage in the evening or an extensive skin massage can help. In the long term, eye bags can be eliminated through a healthy lifestyle. A restful night’s sleep helps to relax the entire region around the eyes and also reduces stress and anxiety, which can lead to the formation of bags under the eyes.

Sports such as jumping rope or jogging reduce water retention in the tissue. Toxic substances such as alcohol and nicotine should be avoided. Highly salty or greasy foods in particular should be avoided due to their pro-inflammatory effect until the bags under the eyes have receded. If there is no improvement, a visit to the family doctor is recommended .

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.