Causes and Treatment of Dark Circles

Overview

If you have dark circles under your eyes, you’ve probably grown accustomed to hearing comments about how tired you look. While lack of sleep can contribute to dark circles, other factors, such as allergies and heredity, can also cause the unsightly under-eye discoloration. A variety of medical treatments and natural home remedies can reduce the appearance of dark circles.

Identification

Dark circles appear as dark areas of skin on the fragile skin just below the eyes. Skin can appear a shade or two darker than surrounding skin. Tiny blood vessels located just under the skin’s surface also can contribute to the appearance of dark circles.

Causes

The effects of allergies and nasal congestion can cause dark circles, as can certain skin conditions such as eczema. As you age, the pad of fat under the eyes shrinks, making the under-eye area sink slightly, which creates shadows. An abundance of veins in the under-eye area also can contribute to circles, according to DermaDoctor.com. The problem also can be the result of sun damage over the years, heredity, aging, smoking and drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks. The combination of an increase in veins and shrinking fat pads can make the problem particularly noticeable. Dark circles can occur in people of African-American, Asian or Italian descent because of the production of excess pigment.

Treatment

If you have an underlying medical condition, such as allergies or eczema, treating your condition might help get rid of the dark circles. Over-the-counter and prescription creams are available to lighten darkened skin, and doctors use injectable fillers to diminish hollows and make blood vessels less noticeable. Laser surgery and chemical peels can be helpful in removing excess pigment causing dark circles.

Prevention/Solution

Applying cold substances to your eyes can temporarily reduce dilated and discolored blood vessels under the eyes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Compresses made from chilled tea bags, cucumbers or wash cloths are commonly used. Using an extra pillow at night can help relieve under-eye swelling that contributes to circles, and wearing sunscreen daily might prevent the under-eye area from becoming darker. If these methods don’t reduce dark circles, try cosmetic products specifically designed to camouflage the under-eye area.

Warning

While injectable fillers can improve the appearance of dark circles, they can cause bruising or bumps in some people. These effects can be temporary and diminish over time. Before undergoing any medical procedure on the fragile under-eye area, make sure your doctor is experienced in performing the procedure. Ask to see before and after photographs of other patients who have undergone the procedure.