Why Do Eyes Get Puffy After Crying

Why Do Eyes Get Puffy After Crying? The Science Behind It

Crying is a natural human response to various emotions, such as sadness, frustration, or even joy. But have you ever wondered why your eyes get puffy after a good cry? This article will explore the science behind puffy eyes and provide insights into this common phenomenon. We will discuss the causes and potential remedies, so you can better understand why this happens and how to deal with it effectively.

The Tears Behind Puffy Eyes

Why Do Eyes Get Puffy After Crying

Crying involves the production of tears, which serve as a mechanism to cleanse and protect our eyes. Tears are composed of three layers: an oily outer layer, a watery middle layer, and a mucous inner layer. These layers work together to keep our eyes moist and maintain their health. When you cry, you may produce an excessive amount of tears, leading to various eye-related symptoms, including redness and puffiness.

Why Tears Flow

Tears flow for various reasons, not just when you’re emotionally distressed. Some common causes of tearing include:

  1. Emotional Responses: When you experience intense emotions, such as sadness or happiness, your brain may send signals to produce more tears. These emotional tears contain different chemical compositions than reflex tears, which are produced when irritants enter your eyes.
  2. Irritants: Dust, smoke, or foreign objects can irritate your eyes, leading to tear production. This reflex tear response helps wash away these irritants and protect your eyes.
  3. Eye Health: Maintaining a healthy balance of tears is crucial for overall eye health. When your eyes are too dry, your body compensates by producing more tears, which can lead to puffiness if the tears are not drained properly.
  4. Chemical Composition: Tears contain a mixture of water, oils, and mucus. Any disruption in this composition can lead to eye-related issues, including puffiness.

Understanding Puffiness

Puffiness occurs when the area around your eyes swells, making them appear swollen and baggy. This phenomenon is often a result of the excess fluid buildup in the tissues surrounding your eyes. Let’s delve into the key reasons behind puffy eyes.

Retained Fluid

One of the primary causes of puffiness after crying is the retention of fluid in the eye area. When you cry, the excess tears can’t always be drained effectively through your tear ducts. This causes the fluid to accumulate in the tissues surrounding your eyes, leading to puffiness.


Inflammation is another significant factor contributing to puffy eyes. Emotional stress and crying can lead to the release of stress hormones in your body, such as cortisol. These hormones can cause inflammation, including in the eye area, which further exacerbates puffiness.

Blood Vessel Dilation

The act of crying can also lead to the dilation of blood vessels in and around your eyes. This can result in redness and swelling, making your eyes appear puffy and irritated.

Skin Elasticity

As we age, our skin’s elasticity decreases, making it more prone to puffiness. The skin around the eyes is delicate and can lose its elasticity over time. Crying can exacerbate this issue, leading to more noticeable puffiness, especially in older individuals.

Lack of Sleep

Lack of sleep can contribute to puffiness. When you’re sleep-deprived, the blood vessels around your eyes may dilate, causing the skin to appear darker and puffier.

Dealing with Puffy Eyes

Why Do Eyes Get Puffy After Crying

Now that we understand why eyes get puffy after crying, let’s explore some strategies to deal with and prevent puffiness effectively.

Cold Compress

One of the quickest ways to reduce puffiness is to apply a cold compress to your eyes. The cold temperature constricts blood vessels and reduces inflammation. You can use a clean cloth soaked in cold water or ice packs (wrapped in a cloth) for this purpose. Apply the compress for a few minutes, and you’ll notice a significant improvement.

Cucumber Slices

Cucumber slices have long been a go-to remedy for reducing puffiness and soothing tired eyes. Place chilled cucumber slices over your eyes for a refreshing and natural solution.

Tea Bags

Chilled tea bags, especially those containing caffeine, can help reduce puffiness due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Place them over your eyes for several minutes for a rejuvenating effect.


Staying well-hydrated is essential for maintaining the right balance of tears. Ensure you drink enough water daily to prevent dry eyes, which can lead to puffiness when crying.


Adequate sleep is crucial for overall eye health. Ensure you get the recommended hours of sleep to prevent dilated blood vessels and puffiness.


The science behind puffy eyes after crying is multifaceted, involving a combination of retained fluid, inflammation, blood vessel dilation, skin elasticity, and sleep patterns. Understanding these factors can help you take effective steps to reduce puffiness and prevent it from becoming a persistent issue. By following the remedies and tips discussed in this article, you can better manage and minimize the puffiness that often accompanies crying.

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