Does Soaking Cotton Balls in Milk Help Puffy Eyes?

Soaking cotton balls in milk is a common home remedy for puffy eyes, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support its effectiveness. The fact is milk is a cold liquid, and a cold compress is the best treatment for swelling like under-eye puffiness. Cotton balls soaked in milk will help puffy eyes, as will cold water or tea, but there is no scientific evidence to support using milk over any other cool liquid.


Puffy eyes can be caused by lack of sleep, allergies, genetics, or certain medications. Dehydration can also cause puffy eyes, as can fluctuating hormone levels, especially in pregnant women. Most people experience occasional puffiness or dark circles with no cause for concern, and the puffiness usually goes away within a few days, or in some cases, a few hours. Others have chronically puffy eyes, which can be bothersome but usually not dangerous.


Putting something cold on your puffy eyes is the best way to reduce the swelling and irritation. The Mayo Clinic recommends applying a cool tap-water compress to under-eye puffiness. Chilled gel masks or cucumber slices are also recommended by the Mayo Clinic, and should be left on the eyes for several minutes. Eye Doctor and many home remedy Web sites recommend applying a milk-soaked cloth to the affected area, but no clinical studies have confirmed milk’s benefits. Many people also swear by hemorrhoid cream for under-eye puffiness, but the Mayo Clinic cautions no studies have confirmed this anecdote, and hemorrhoid cream can irritate the sensitive skin that surrounds your eyes.

To prevent puffiness, make sure to get at least eight hours of sleep each night, and try sleeping with your head slightly elevated. If you think allergies might be causing your puffy eyes, ask your pharmacist for over-the-counter medications that might help, or visit your doctor to discuss prescription options.

When to See Your Doctor

If you experience joint pain or swelling in other areas of your body in addition to under-eye puffiness, you could be experiencing systematic inflammation and should see your doctor. Systematic inflammation can be triggered by an allergic reaction, illness, chronic stress or an autoimmune disorder, and is often easiest to notice in delicate areas like the skin under your eyes.