What Causes Dark Circles Under Eyes?
Lack of sleep is one of many causes of dark circles under the eyes. Some dark circles are temporary, and others are hereditary and therefore are an appearance that can last most of a person’s lifetime. Whatever their cause, dark circles are generally not a cause for medical alarm. While some people may consider them to be undesirable, they do not have a lasting impact on health or vision.
Puffy eyes and dark circles are considered to be similar issues, but their root causes and treatments are different. There are at-home, cosmetic, and medical ways to treat dark circles under the eyes. This quick guide will highlight both the common causes of and how to get rid of dark circles.
Starting with the causes behind them, here are the top reasons you may get dark circles under your eyes:
- Genetics: Sometimes people are born pale or have thin skin under their eyes. Blood vessels are superficial as a result, which can leave a purple or reddish tint under the eyes. Some people are also born with periorbital hyperpigmentation, meaning they have dark skin around the eyes.
- Fat Loss with Age: Aging can create volume depletion under the eyes that leave hollowed-out shadows.
- Lack of Sleep: Sleep deprivation can dull and pale your skin, allowing the blood vessels underneath to shine through.
- Alcohol: Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can dehydrate the body. The dehydration in turn allows blood vessels under the eye to become more apparent.
- Blocked Sinuses: Inflammation in the sinuses, due to colds or allergies, can enlarge the vessels around the eyes and discolor the skin around them.
- Rubbing Your Eyes: Allergies can make your eyes itch, and excessive scratching or rubbing of the eyes can inflame the blood vessels and discolor the skin in the eye area.
- Pigmentation: People of Asian, Indian, and African descent sometimes have naturally darker pigmentation around the eyes.
- Eye Strain: Too much screen time can put a considerable strain on your eyes, which may enlarge the blood vessels around them and darken the skin.
- Sun Overexposure: Melanin (the pigment that darkens the skin) production increases with sun exposure. Overexposure can break down collagen which may thin the skin around the eyes over time and give more visibility to the veins below.
- Underlying Bone and Ligament Structure: The way that your eye sockets are built can lead to deeper contouring. A prominent tear trough can cause shadows and make dark circles appear more exaggerated.
How to Get Rid of Dark Circles Under Eyes
If you have dark circles under your eyes, read on to learn how to minimize them. Sometimes the best medication is prevention. Here are a few ways to prevent dark circles from occurring:
- Prioritize Sleep: Getting a full night’s rest is beneficial to the human body in countless ways. One benefit is minimizing the appearance of dark circles.
- Hydrate: Dehydration is a common cause of dark circles, whether from drinking alcohol or not enough water. Keeping your body and skin hydrated minimizes dark circles. It also keeps the color in your skin consistent. Pale skin often give the eyes a darker appearance.
- Take Allergy Medicine: If you know you suffer from allergies, keeping your sinuses unblocked with medicine will help you breathe better and reduce swelling and discoloration around the eyes.
- Wear Sunglasses: Protecting your eyes from sun overexposure reduces melanin levels, prevents wrinkling and sagging, and can help prevent skin cancer. Sunscreen and hats are also helpful.
- Consider Vitamins: If you are advancing in age or have thinner skin, collagen supplements can help boost the levels in your body. Vitamin K helps control blood clotting and strengthens the capillaries under the eyes, which can help reduce the appearance of dark circles, since weakened capillaries can discolor the skin. Vitamin C has been shown to increase collagen production, thickening under-eye skin and minimizing the appearance of dark circles. In some cases, dark circles under the eyes are a sign of nutritional deficiency.
Dark circles may still persist despite any preventative measures you may take. Here are a few ways to combat them:
- Cold Compress: Cold placed on the skin restricts blood vessels. Wrap a few ice cubes, or get a freezer mask, and apply to your eyes for 10 minutes. Cold compresses can help combat both dark circles and puffiness around the eyes.
- Elevate Your Head While Sleeping: Elevating your head while you sleep can prevent body fluids from pooling around the eyes.
- Apply Eye Cream: Speciality eye creams and serums can topically apply vitamins to your eye area as well as brighten the skin. Some eye creams contain ingredients that restrict blood vessels and add extra hydration to the area.
- Use Concealer: People with dark eye circles from genetics may resort to using concealer. Concealer won’t treat the cause of your dark circles, but they can help lighten and brighten the skin around your eyes. Be sure to use a hypo-allergenic concealer if you have sensitive skin. Some makeup can trigger allergic reactions and worsen the dark circles around your eyes.
While dark circles under the eyes are not a serious medical condition, you may need to visit your healthcare provider if the skin around your eyes is chronically dark. Doctors can also offer more permanent solutions to this condition, including chemical peels, laser surgery, medical tattoos, fat removal, and surgical implants and fillers to help change the shape of the eye socket or change the skin color.