Dark Circles Under the Eyes
It’s not uncommon for men and women to suffer from dark circles under their eyes, many of which assume tiredness and lack of sleep are the culprits. While fatigue is undoubtedly a common explanation for dark circles under the eyes, other factors can contribute, too. Though dark eye circles are no cause for concern in most cases and require no medical attention, many become frustrated with them as they can make you look older than you are, but they can also be challenging to get rid of.
Though everyone can be susceptible to dark eye circles, they are more common in those with a genetic predisposition to this condition (Periorbital Hyperpigmentation), non-white ethnic groups, and the elderly.
What Causes Dark Circles Under the Eyes?
Some common causes of dark circles under the eyes include:
Your genetics play a part in developing dark circles under the eyes, which can be noticeable from early childhood. However, one of two things tends to happen: they either worsen as you grow in age, or they disappear slowly.
Being genetically susceptible to medical conditions such as thyroid disease, for example, may also produce dark circles under the eyes.
Sleep deprivation can cause fluid build-up underneath your eyes, making them appear puffy; therefore, the dark circles under the eyes may be shadows cast by puffy eyelids.
However, extreme fatigue, staying up for a considerable amount of time past your regular bedtime, and oversleeping can cause dark circles under the eyes. Furthermore, sleep deprivation isn’t kind to the skin as it can cause it to become pale and dull, allowing blood vessels and dark tissues underneath the skin to reveal.
Overexposure of Sun
The body will produce a surplus of melanin – the pigment that provides your skin with color – if the body has too much sun exposure. Although the sun is essential for us, too much for our eyes may cause pigmentation in the surrounding skin to darken.
Sun damage is real.
As we age, our skin becomes thinner, and when we naturally age, we may get dark circles under our eyes. It is very common.
Another factor in the aging process is losing the collagen and fat required to maintain the skin’s elasticity. Dark blood vessels beneath the skin become more visible, making the area below your eyes darken.
We all know how important being hydrated is for our body’s health, yet dehydration is a prevalent cause of dark circles under the eyes. Your eyes can look sunken, and the skin around and beneath your eyes can appear dull when the body isn’t receiving adequate hydration.
Nowadays, many people have jobs that require them to stare at a computer screen for eight hours plus per day. Then, when they go home, they spend a further 3-4 hours staring at the television to unwind.
However, both these actions can cause significant strain on your eyes and, as a result, can cause blood vessels around your eyes to enlarge. When this happens, the skin around your eye area can darken.
An allergic reaction can cause the body to use histamines to respond to harmful bacteria. Aside from causing uncomfortable symptoms, such as redness, itchiness, and puffy eyes, histamines may make your blood vessels dilate and more noticeable beneath your skin.
Unfortunately, eye dryness and allergic reactions can produce dark circles under the eyes. The issue with allergies is that they increase the urge to rub and scratch the itchy skin around the eye area, worsening the symptoms.
Swelling, inflammation, and broken blood vessels can occur, resulting in dark shadows beneath the eyes.
Underlying Medical Condition
Although highly unlikely, the cause of dark circles under the eyes could be related to a medical condition.
Hypothyroidism, anemia, vitamin deficiencies, poor nutrition, and specific metabolic syndromes may also lead to dark circles under the eyes.
If you have tried to treat your eyes already, it is good to seek professional help, get medically reviewed by your physician, and have a thorough exam, including lab work, to establish the cause.
How To Get Rid of Dark Circles Under the Eyes
There is a chance of reducing the appearance of dark circles under the eyes with some simple home remedies.
Although there are no guarantees that the following remedies work – and are not scientifically proven – they are worth trying as they cost very little and cause zero side effects.
Makeup will not cure dark circles under the eyes; however, an under-the-eye concealer may help purely for cosmetic purposes.
Use topical treatment or makeup products with care, as some may trigger an allergic reaction.
The caffeine and antioxidants in tea help stimulate blood circulation, reduce liquid retention beneath your skin, and shrink your blood vessels, improving the eyes’ appearance.
Here’s how the tea bags can help the dark circles under the eyes:
Soak two green or black tea bags in hot water for five minutes and let them cool in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. Once cold, put the tea bags over your closed eyes for 10 to 20 minutes, and once removed, rinse off your eyes with cool water.
Dehydration causes water retention, as does excess salt, which can lead to puffiness and the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.
Ensure you are drinking enough water daily and avoid excessive amounts of alcohol, which also causes dehydration.
Females should consume around 1.5-2 liters of water per day, while men should consume between 2.5-3 liters daily.
A cold compress placed on the eyes will tighten the blood vessels under the skin, thus reducing visibility and the appearance of dark circles.
Hyperpigmentation causes the skin to darken in small or large patches, sometimes the whole body; however, sunscreen is essential to mitigate this.
Hyperpigmentation can produce areas of skin under the eyes causing dark circles to form.
Keep Your Head Elevated
Lack of sleep can undoubtedly produce dark circles under the eyes, but it’s equally important how you sleep.
Use some pillows to elevate your head to prevent fluid from building up beneath the eyes, making them look swollen and puffy.
One reason why dark circles under the eyes can appear is down to poor circulation.
Getting a facial may help improve circulation as the massage around the eye can get the blood flowing.
Remove Makeup Carefully
The skin under your eyes is delicate and can be susceptible to blood vessels breaking if you rub your eyes too much. A way to avoid this is to use a gentle cleanser such as a cleansing oil or cleansing towelette. Be sure to use warm, not hot water, and be extra mindful of how much pressure you use when rubbing. And don’t rub back and forth; gently wipe across.
Check Your Health
Your overall health will also have a say if you develop dark circles under the eyes.
Being overweight, having high cholesterol or triglycerides, smoking cigarettes, or inhaling second-hand smoke worsens dark circles. However, these can be reduced or fixed by implementing dietary changes and exercise.
Look at it this way: anything you do to live a healthier life will make some difference – big or small – in the appearance of dark circles.
Getting Enough Sleep
Ensuring you catch up on sleep will help reduce the appearance of dark circles. Lack of sleep – or worse, sleep deprivation – can wash out the skin, causing the dark circles to look more prominent.
7-8 hours of sleep each night is the sweet spot, and this will help you reduce the dark circles under the eyes.
Medical treatments offer a permanent solution to reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes. Some of the most common methods are:
Blepharoplasty is a surgery that can get rid of dark circles.
A certified dermatologist should always carry out any medical procedure, and you should discuss any potential side effects with them, too, as under the eye is very delicate.
The drug bimatoprost – used for glaucoma – will help the dark circles disappear once someone has ceased using the medication.
Certain bleaching creams can help reduce hyperpigmentation, such as:
- a mixture of both
Hydroquinone, for example, may take at least three months of usage to see an effect.
Losing fatty tissue and thinning of the skin can be two reasons that cause dark circles under the eyes; however, fillers may be an option to investigate.
Often, people will have injections of hyaluronic acid gel or platelet-rich plasma into the affected area under the eye.
Kojic acid is a natural product that comes from fungi and helps in treating dark circles, though anecdotally. However, it is worth noting that reddening of the skin and contact dermatitis can be a reaction to kojic acid.
Another effective treatment for dark circles is laser therapy. That said, diode and pulsed eye lasers are renowned for being less invasive options to take as they may reduce the risk of any scarring or other possible side effects.
Azelaic acid is used to treat hyperpigmentation underneath the eyes and can be used for long periods, and is reportedly safe to use.
Topical vitamin C
A study showed that using 10% vitamin C lotion over six months effectively lightens darkness under the eyes.
How To Prevent Dark Circles Under the Eyes
There are a few lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent dark circles, such as:
Protect the Eyes From the Sun
Ensuring you wear sunscreen and UV protection sunglasses can help reduce or stop dark circles.
Reduce Alcohol and Stop Smoking
It’s probably not what everyone wants to read, but excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can speed up the aging process and may be linked to the increase of dark circles.
Reduce Stress and Get Adequate Sleep
Stress may increase the appearance of dark circles; however, rest and getting enough sleep help to reduce them.
Dark circles do not discriminate against anyone, regardless of age and ethnicity. However, lifestyle, age, and genetics play a telling factor in developing dark circles. Underlying health conditions, allergies, and nutrient deficiencies can cause dark circles.
Developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, ensuring you get enough quality sleep, adequate hydration, and eating a healthy balanced diet may all help in reducing or preventing dark circles.
If you are concerned about your dark circles and have tried some of the home remedies to no avail, consult your doctor or dermatologist to get medically reviewed and to discuss treatment options and rule out any health conditions.
About the author
I'm Chris. I have a vast interest in all things relating to health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition. I also love to improve my mindset and learn how to increase my productivity. If you'd like to say hello or ask me a question, please visit my contact page, and I'd be glad to hear from you. Alternatively, you can find me on Twitter (@liveliftlife).