Late-night deadlines and environmental toxins can stress the delicate skin around the eyes, causing puffiness and dark circles. A natural remedy that is an alternative to the old cucumber standby is green tea bags. Loaded with antioxidants and plenty of tannins, green tea bags shrink swelling and reduce the fluids around the eyes.
Puffiness around the eyes can be caused by lack of sleep, overwork, skin disorders and hypothyroidism. Pregnancy can cause fluid retention and puffiness around the eyes. A high-salt diet also causes fluid retention. Other causes come from toxins through alcohol and tobacco use. Hormonal changes, skin disorders and allergies affect the delicate skin around the eyes.
Despite popular belief, lack of sleep, fatigue and staying out late are not the main causes of dark circles under the eyes. Some of the more common causes are allergies, eczema, heredity, smoking, drinking, nasal congestion that dilates and darkens under-eye veins, sun exposure and thinning skin, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Placing brewed tea bags on the eyes for a short time period allows the tannins in the tea to treats puffy eyes and dark circles. Green tea bags reduce swelling and tighten the skin around the eyes. The caffeine reduces puffiness by shrinking the blood vessels. Green tea works on dark circles by decreasing the dilation of the blood vessels under the eyes. The astringent nature of the tannins constricts the blood vessels and capillaries under the eyes.
The three main varieties of tea are green, black and oolong. How the tea is processed determines the tea type. China, Japan, India and Thailand have consumed green tea throughout their histories. Herbal medicine in Asia has used green tea for conditions such as promoting digestion, improving mental focus and regulating body temperature and blood sugar. A study on green tea and cardiovascular and liver disease by Dr. Imai and Dr. Nakachi concluded, "The inverse association between consumption of green tea and various serum markers shows that green tea may act protectively against cardiovascular disease and disorders of the liver."
Some of the causes of eye puffiness and dark circles can be avoided or reduced. Alcohol and tobacco use lead to fluid retention around the eyes, causing swelling. Getting a good night's sleep and eating a healthy diet can play a big part in skin health. Using green tea bags under the eyes regularly, drinking plenty of fluids and using a good moisturizer will keep the skin under the eyes fresh.
Eye swelling is a temporary condition. Chronic eye puffiness may be a sign of other serious medical conditions. A skin patch test should be done before using tea bags on the eyes, especially for individuals with allergies.
Caroline Thompson is a professional photojournalist who has been working for print and online publications since 1999. Her work has appeared in the "Sacramento Bee," "People Magazine," "Newsweek" and other publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in photojournalism from California State University at Hayward and a personal trainer certification from the university's Health and Fitness Institute.