January 24th, 2024

Eye Treatments for Puffy Eyes & Periorbital Hyperpigmentation

One of the main skincare concerns I see in my practice that clients request help with is “puffy eyes” or “dark circles”. Not only is this a common request from women, but also men. Bright eyes and well defined brows help the face retain a youthful appearance.

Understanding Periorbital Edema

Causes for puffy eyes, or the medical term periorbital edema can be caused by many factors and appears as under eye swelling and is usually resulted from heredity and aging. Causes could include:

Allergies- the body’s reaction to an allergen may cause the eye area to have inflammation. Repeatedly rubbing the eye area may bring on more swelling and fluid retention as well.

Genetics- those who have puffy eyes, may have a parent who is prone to having reoccurring puffy eyes because of the autonomy of the eye structure is more prone to have fluid retention.

Diet- those who ingest excess salt may be prone to suffer from puffy eyes, as sodium will cause swelling and excess water retention in the whole body. Dehydration can also cause fluid retention.

Aging- As you age, the skin makes less collagen and elastin, with time the skin in this area becomes even more thin.

Understanding Periorbital Hyperpigmentation

Periorbital hyperpigmentation is not the same as periorbital edema and can be caused by a variety of circumstances. Periorbital hyperpigmentation frequency affects the upper eyelids as well as lower, and as the very name suggests, is due to excess pigment, melanin. It is often referred to as dark circles”, or “under eye circles”. Causes can include:

Sleep Deprivation and Fatigue- not getting enough sleep can create increased blood flow and vasodilation around the eye area. When the vessels under the eyes dilate, it creates a dark bluish color under the skin.

Photoaging- UVA and UVB rays from the sun cause overproduction of melanin in the skin

Diet- some vitamins such as folate or B12 are important for maintain healthy circulation and support of healthy blood cells. A vitamin deficiency can lead to poor blood circulation and blood to pool under the eyes, causing the skin to appear darker. Dehydration will also affect this.

B vitamins, particularly B12, and folate, are crucial for maintaining healthy blood cells and promoting proper circulation. Insufficient levels of these vitamins can lead to poor circulation and blood pooling under the eyes, causing dark circles to appear.

Genetics- Some studies have shown periorbital hyperpigmentation can be genetically linked. Also to note, studies have found that dark circles are more common in families that experience Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) or Allergic Contact Dermatitis (rash caused by contact with allergic substance). In both cases, dermatitis itself causes dilation of blood vessels under the skin, giving a darker appearance.

Remedies That May Help With Periorbital Edema & Periorbital Hyperpigmentation

First, take a look at your water and food intake. Are you drinking enough water? Also take a look at your foods you are eating. Most of the time it’s not actual table salt you need to worry about, it’s processed foods and canned foods that are extremely high in sodium content. High amounts of sodium will cause swelling in the body as well as fluid retention. Some of the highest sodium content food items are fast foods, pre packed foods, canned soups, lunch meats, canned sauces, carbonated drinks and alcohol.

Vitamins A, E, B12, D and K are helpful as well as folate, zinc, and iron for vitamin and mineral intake to help with periorbital hyperpigmentation.

If you are prone to seasonal allergies, I urge you to ask your family physician on recommendations such as antihistamines.

I carry Patchology Eye Gels in my spa for “quick fix” situations. Eye gels are not a long-term solution and will not remedy puffy eyes that result from allergies, genetics, diet or aging, but they will however, alleviate some of the symptoms. Patchology Rejuventing Eye Gels have caffeine for micro-circulation and reduce puffiness from excess sodium. This ingredient deck also includes Hyaluronte for moisture, Collagen for elasticity and tone, and Acetyl Tetrapeptide-5 which is beneficial for fluid accumulation in the eye area with allergies.

Flashpatch Rejuvenation Eye Gels also contain Centella Asiatica which encourages collagen production, and Portulaca Oleracea Extract rich in Vitamin C and essential Omega-3 fatty acids.

The thing about hydrogel eye patches are they work wonderfully well when kept in a fridge before use. They work as a cold compress of sorts while allowing the skin to absorb the active ingredients while the cold helps to restrict blood vessels, inflammation and calm the skin. Hydrogel patches that have active ingredients caffeine, forms of Hyaluronic Acid, or Peptides work exceptionally well, so look for these active ingredients. Even better if you can find one with all three!

Cryo Tools are something that you can incorporate into your morning skincare routine that would be beneficial for puffy eyes especially for excess fluid. Cryo is recommended for many skincare concerns including swelling and inflammation. Even cystic acne can benefit from cryo tools as they reduce inflammation and help accelerate the healing process in the skin. The cold will restrict vascular activity around the eye and promote movement of fluid in the eye area at the same time.

Saian Skincare’s ICE Globes

Saian makes the perfect sized cryo tools for the facial structure, I use these in my practice and recommend them to clients.

You can use cryo tools like Saian’s ICE Globes every morning for 10-15 minutes in your beauty routine.

When using cryo tools always make sure you are using a product that provides “slip” to the skin. I do not recommend serums for this as they absorb into the skin too quickly. A cream masque is perfect for all over the face, a eye cream is perfect for around the delicate eye area.

Sweeping movements are used when using cryo tools, directing those movements out, in the direction of the lymph nodes and the heart, to assist in moving stagnant fluids from the facial structure.

I advise my clients if they decide to add cryo tools to their skincare routine, it will take an average of around three weeks of consistent use to see targeted long term results.

The formulation also includes Chronopeptide to revive sleep-deprived skin, and Carnosine (L) Benfotiamine, a patented anti-glycation complex. Collagen in the skin, which functions to help the skin remain plump and youthful, is vulnerable to damage by glycation.

Hale & Hush Eye Mousse

Hale & Hush skincare is formulated for sensitive skin. Eye Mousse’s active ingredient is Matrixyl Palmitoyl Tripeptide-38, a powerful peptide that stimulates and strengthens collagen and improves overall skin function.

I prescribe this product to my sensitive skin clients who have wrinkles and fine lines, and want to strengthen the skin around the eye area or tighten and tone. I would not prescribe this for dark circles (Periorbital Hyperpigmentation) because the ingredient deck doesn’t support brightening and hyperpigmentation.

Included in the ingredient deck is a quality list of humectants and skin supportive ingredients including Tremella Fuciformis Sporocarp (Silver Ear Mushroom) Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Squalane, Linoleic Acid, and Phospholipids. These ingredients provide an intense hydration while emulating what the skin needs for a healthy skin barrier.

Lira Clinical Mystiq Perfecting Eye Cream This product has an impressive blend of peptides (Dipeptide-2, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Dipeptide Diaminobutyroyl Benzylamide Diacetate, Acetyl Octapeptide-3, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5 and Acetyl Hexapeptide-8) to help treat periorbital edema. A study done by the manufacturer found the product showed improvement after 56 days for 70% of the participants.

As for brightening, this product contains Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi Leaf Extract (Bearberry) which contains the well-known skin lightening agent arbutin. The leaves contain 5-15% percent of it and treats hyperpigmentation in the skin.

I prescribe this to my clients who have not only puffiness, but also dark circles and are looking for anti-aging as well.

As with most eye creams, I advise my clients that it takes around 60 days of consistent use to see targeted results long term.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night to eliminate bags or dark circles under your eyes. It also recommends elevating your head on a pillow to reduce the swelling that accumulates around your eyes while you sleep. 

When To See a Physician

We talked about different conditions that may bring about periorbital edema but there are medical causes as well. If you have continued dark circles or eye swelling and inflammation, you may need to see a physician to rule out any medical conditions.

Blepharitis: Inflammation of the eyelids

Chalazion: Clogged gland at base of the eyelashes

Conjunctivitis: Inflammation or possibly infection of the lining of the eyeball

Orbital Cellulitis: Infection of tissues surrounding the eyeball

Stye: Infection of an oil gland in eyelid

Keratitis: Inflammation of the cornea

Optic Neuritis: Inflammation of the optic nerve

Uveitis: Inflammation in the pigmented layer of the eye

Other conditions to take into account would be chronic kidney disease which could affect the eyes, diabetes in which you could have an eye complication called diabetic retinopathy, or thyroid eye disease which is an autoimmune condition that causes eye bulging.

There is also a condition referred to as Eyelid Fat Prolapse when the skin around the eyes stretch and the orbital fat moves forward in the eye socket and muscles weaken. It is important to note that this condition is NOT the same as undereye puffiness. When this happens, your best course of action would be to speak with a medical professional and they will most likely elect for a simple outpatient procedure for surgical correction. Typically local anesthesia is administered, and an incision is made to remove the prolapsed fat, then the incision is closed with sutures or fibrin glue.