Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Will my puffy eyes ever go away? Help!

What causes puffy eyes? Basically it is edema (fluid retention) in the fat tissue above the bones encircling your eyes that causes puffy eyes. Those pockets fill up with fluid causing puffiness, probably due to inflammation. Inflammation comes from many different things: food allergies, alcohol consumption, smoking, sugar, among others.

How can I treat my puffy eyes? Prevention or avoiding the causes of puffiness are the first steps to alleviating puffy eyes. But since we live in the real world, I’ll give you a few things you can do to treat the puffiness you may be experiencing.

First, if you wake up in the morning with puffy eyes, before jolting out of bed, take it slow. Sit up in bed supported by your pillows with your back straight. Just sit there for a few minutes and give your body a chance to adjust to this more vertical position. If you get up quickly, the fluids that have settled around your eyes don’t have a chance to drain from this area, or at least not as efficiently as they would if you sit up and let them drain first. 

Using something cool on the eyes will help to reduce some of the puffiness. Do not use ice or anything extremely cold—you can damage the capillaries. But ice with a heavy cloth over it or some of the gel packs available for the eyes would be OK. You just don’t want to use anything ice cold directly on your skin; cool is acceptable.

There are eye creams on the market that address puffy eyes. They contain specific ingredients meant to help with the drainage around the eye area. Rosemary, for instance, has a constricting action, which can help to ease puffiness that results from fluid retention. (See An effective treatment for puffy eyes using Yonka’s Phyto Contour for a morning puffy eye routine that might help with mild or even severe puffiness you may be experiencing.) Be aware that no matter what a product claims to do, it’s doubtful anything is going to “cure” or totally eliminate the puffiness around your eyes—especially if it is genetic.

Cosmetic surgery is the only way to truly get rid of the fat pockets underneath your eyes. If you are through having to deal with excessive puffy eyes, you may want to consult with a few plastic surgeons and see what your options are. If you contend with puffiness every day and you are eating foods that are inflammation-inducing, I highly recommend starting with your diet before you consider going under the knife. It is the harder road, but truly it is the one that your body will benefit most from in the long run.

Keep in mind, foods that are causing puffy eyes are creating an inflammatory response in more than just your eye area. Sugar, among other foods, causes inflammation—not just in the form of puffy eyes, but body-wide. Always look to your diet (what you are consuming) as probable causes of inflammation and therefore puffiness. (Tomatoes, shrimp, and drinking alcohol are other known causes of puffy eyes in many people.)

Preparation H®. I’m sure many of you have heard about a “miracle” treatment for puffiness around the eyes: Preparation H, the hemorrhoid cream. I have read about this in a few books and magazine articles, and I’m frequently asked if it works, so I had to find out for myself what the truth is.

I went to the store and looked at all the different ointments and creams meant to shrink the pain and itching of hemorrhoids. There are a few brands available, Preparation H being the most well-known. Like many medications, there are generic brands that have virtually identical ingredients for less money. In order to do a “controlled” study, I purchased the Preparation H brand, but any of them would have worked the same I’m sure.

The ingredients listed in the cream as “active” are glycerin (12%), petrolatum (18%), phenylephrine HCI (0.25%), and shark liver oil (3.0%). Glycerin is one of the main components of most creams due to its water-binding abilities. It is a humectant and therefore attracts moisture (water) to itself. How this is going to help with puffiness I can’t imagine. Petrolatum, which is just Vaseline or petroleum jelly, is another ingredient that helps to make the cream smooth and spreadable. How this particular ingredient helps with puffiness is also a mystery to me. If you were to put Vaseline around your eyes, it would probably cause puffiness due to its ability to retain moisture. I also wonder what the active component is in this very inert (inactive) substance. Petrolatum is also going to clog your pores.

I could not find phenylephrine HCI, but found phenylephrine HCL in my ingredient book lists. Also known as hydrochloride, it is used in some nasal decongestants to contract blood vessels or in medications to take the red out of the eyes. This would be consistent with a cream meant to shrink tissue, in this case, hemorrhoids. Shark liver oil is loaded with vitamin A and is used to lubricate many creams and lotions. Out of all these “active” ingredients, the only one that seems to be acting on reducing inflammation is phenylephrine HCI. The inactive ingredients listed on the package are mostly fillers, lanolins, and preservatives; they are nothing special, and certainly nothing harmful.

Like many of you, I wake up in the morning with moderate puffiness under my eyes. Throughout the day, the puffiness naturally diminishes, if only due to gravity and the fluids draining from the eye area. I used the preparation under only one eye so I could see if there was a difference between my two undereyes. After using Preparation H (under one eye) for two full weeks, I can honestly and unequivocally say that this product didn’t do a thing for my undereye puffiness. I just didn’t see any appreciable difference. I would even ask those people I saw in that time frame, and they couldn’t see a measurable difference between my two eyes.

I went back to the store and purchased the ointment and the gel, thinking maybe I had used the wrong form of Preparation H. Neither of these made any difference either, further cementing my belief that Preparation H should be used as it was originally intended and not for puffy eyes.

Perhaps in a situation like a makeup artist working on a talk show guest or a model in a runway show, the Preparation H does work wonders. But my experience using it didn’t prove to be as beneficial. Try it for yourself. See if using this hemorrhoid cream around your eye area helps to reduce puffiness you may experience. Personally I’ll stick to eye treatment creams meant to help puffiness.

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