Keep Waking Up With A Puffy Face? This May Be Why, From MDs
Most people will wake up with a puffy face occasionally. Often this is caused by fluid buildup, a cold, or a hangover, but it could be a sneaky sign of something else if it sticks around. To come, three possible reasons your morning puffiness won’t budge, plus how to dial down the swelling.
3 common causes of puffy morning face
Alcohol and salt consumption
“Dietary factors such as drinking alcohol and excessive intake of salt can cause puffiness, especially in the morning, due to the combined effects of gravity and fluid retention,” explains board-certified dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, M.D., FAAD.
You’ll likely know whether or not you consumed alcohol the night before, but sometimes sodium-rich foods can sneak up on you. Most often, sodium-rich foods are present in processed snacks or meals, but you’ll occasionally find high amounts of sodium in products like soups, broths, sauces, and even canned or pickled vegetables.
Swelling can also signal dehydration, especially if you’ve consumed loads of salty food or alcohol. “Lack of proper hydration can cause your body to retain water, resulting in puffiness,” Anna Askari, M.D., family physician at One Medical, explains. “This can be exacerbated by alcohol or caffeine consumption, which dehydrate the body."
So while hydration is important all the time, it will be even more essential when paired with alcohol and higher salt intake.
Loss of skin elasticity
“In addition, as we age, we lose firmness and elasticity, which may result in increased puffiness as fluid accumulates in the tissues overnight,” Marcus explains. This one isn’t avoidable, but you can take steps to boost your skin’s natural collagen production and plump the skin.
One of the easiest: Take a collagen supplement daily. Look for hydrolyzed collagen peptides for optimal absorption—here’s a list of some great options on the market now.
Allergies and congestion
“Allergic reactions, such as hay fever or food allergies, can cause facial swelling and puffiness,” Askari says. Common allergens she notes include pollen, pet dander, certain foods, and insect bites.
Your sinuses could also become congested from the allergies, which could then lead to facial swelling and puffiness.
How to ease facial puffiness
There are plenty of ways to ease temporary facial puffiness. Below, find Marcus’ best tips:
- Stay hydrated to help flush out excess fluid
- Use cold compresses to help construct blood vessels and decrease swelling
- Use creams containing caffeine to constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling
- Gently massage your face to promote lymphatic drainage
When to visit a doctor
“In addition to temporary causes, there are some health conditions that may cause facial puffiness as a symptom,” Askari says.
While waking up with a puffy face is likely caused by one of the common factors listed above, if it recurs frequently or tends to stick around, it could be a symptom of some other health issue.
Below, a few health conditions that may cause a puffy face, from Askari:
- Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid gland can result in fluid retention and puffiness, particularly in the face.
- Kidney problems: Conditions like kidney disease or kidney failure can cause fluid retention and facial puffiness due to impaired fluid balance and filtration.
- Cushing's syndrome: This hormonal disorder occurs when the body produces excessive cortisol. It can cause a variety of symptoms, including facial puffiness.
So if you frequently wake up with a puffy face but none of the temporary causes align, it’s best to visit your doctor to make sure it’s not a symptom of a more serious health concern.
Most often, morning facial puffiness happens from increased alcohol or salt intake, allergies, or congestion, and it may look more pronounced due to a lack of skin elasticity. If your morning facial puffiness sticks around, visit your doctor. Otherwise, work on relieving the swelling with lymphatic drainage massage techniques. Note: A gua sha may be helpful for this process—here’s a list of great options if you’re in the market.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty & Health Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including skin care, women’s health, mental health, sustainability, social media trends, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends and innovations, women’s health research, brain health news, and plenty more.