A gel eye mask can be used to treat a variety of eye and skin problems, such as red or swollen eyes caused by extended eye strain or dark or swollen skin that forms under the eyes following strain or lack of sleep. The eye mask consists of a gel inside a plastic or cloth eye mask. Many eye masks can be heated or worn cool over the eyes. Directions for wearing the eye mask include placing the mask over the eyes for 10 to 15 minutes or wearing the mask overnight depending on the type of gel eye mask used.
Many eye masks are made of plastic or rubber and shaped to fit over the eyes. When placed over the face, the gel inside the eye mask shapes itself to fit the contours of the eye, allowing the heat or coolness of the mask to better reach the eyelids and the surrounding skin. A few varieties of gel eye mask have a cloth covering or include a band that the user can place around the back of his or her head, which may make wearing the eye mask more comfortable over longer periods of time.
Depending on the specific instructions for the gel eye mask, the user may or may not heat the mask. To heat the mask, most instructions call for suspending it in a bowl of warm water for several minutes. Wearing a warm eye mask for a short period of time can reduce swelling in the eyelids and the surrounding skin.
Other types of mask call for wearing the mask at a cool or at room temperature. Placing a cool eye mask over the eyes can help soothe tired or strained eyes. As the eye mask blocks out light, it can also be worn overnight to aid in sleep.
Over time, repeated use of a gel eye mask can help relieve some of the symptoms associated with strain or lack of sleep. Individuals can develop pain around the eyes from strain caused by reading or working on a computer for an extended period of time. Allergies, air pollutants, and a lack of sleep can also cause swelling or pain in the eye area. Using an eye gel mask on a regular basis can help relieve some of these symptoms.