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How Effective Are Tea Bags for Puffy Eyes?

By Judith Smith Sullivan
Updated May 17, 2024
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Applying tea bags for puffy eyes is a popular home remedy. Supposedly, the caffeine from the tea combined with the chill of tea bags which have been refrigerated helps reduce swelling and redness. There is, however, no conclusive evidence that tea bags are more effective than any other home remedy. Alternatives, like applying cucumber or chilled spoons, can work just as well. The only difference between methods is the presence of caffeine.

Puffy eyes result from the retention of fluid by the body. It can be caused by dehydration, an allergic reaction to pollen or dander in the air, medication, or a lack of sleep. In some cases, the puffiness is temporary but it can be a chronic condition.

For the most part, it is the moist chill of the tea bags that makes the remedy effective. Using hot tea bags for puffy eyes would most likely aggravate the puffiness and could increase redness as well. Allowing the tea bags to steep in hot water rehydrates the tea leaves and releases chemicals. Chilling the bags for a short time in the freezer or refrigerator will make them more effective at reducing puffiness.

Theoretically, the caffeine and tannins found in tea constrict blood vessels. Tannins, also found in dark teas, may also help to constrict the blood vessels and reduce redness. Chamomile tea, although it does not contain caffeine, also has anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce swelling.

Applying tea bags for puffy eyes may temporarily reduce puffiness, but only addressing the underlying cause will resolve the problem. Typically it is more effective to treat the cause of the puffiness than the symptom. There are several ways to do so.

Dehydration accounts for a number of ailments, including headaches, constipation, and fatigue. The good news is that the cure is easy — drink more water. Even if it turns out dehydration is not the cause, drinking more water is almost always a good idea. Individuals that drink enough water have pale or clear urine. Yellow urine is an indication of dehydration, and brown or red urine can indicate severe problems and should be brought to the attention of a doctor.

In most cases, an individual is well aware if he or she suffers from allergies, as the symptoms will become worse after exposure to the offending substance. The best solution is to avoid the substance all together. There are over-the-counter eye drops and medications which reduce the symptoms of allergies, but results vary from person to person.

Lack of sleep causes a multitude of problems, and the eyes seem to suffer almost immediately. Redness, puffiness, swelling of the eyelids, and dryness of the eyes is often caused by the lack of sleep. Bedtime routines aren't just for children. Adults can benefit from regular bedtimes and regular waking times as well. It also helps to exercise during the day and do calming activities like reading or bathing right before bed.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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