The skin around the eyelids (periorbital skin) is the thinnest skin in the body (around 0.5 mm thick compared with 2 mm in other areas). Like varicose veins
, dark circles under the eyes are usually an inherited trait. When blood passes through the large veins close to the surface of the skin, it can produce a bluish tint. The more transparent the skinâ€“also an inherited traitâ€“the darker the circles appear. In people with a deep-set bone structure, shadowing can also contribute to the dark color under the eyes.
, and eczema - any condition that causes the eyes to itch can contribute to darker circles due to rubbing or scratching the skin around them. Hay fever
sufferers in particular will notice under-eye
"smudges" during the height
of the allergy season. Some food allergies
can also cause the area under the eyes to appear darker. This type of dark circle is commonly referred to as "allergic shiners" - treatment of allergies can be helpful for these dark circles.
Medications - any medications that cause blood vessels to dilate can cause circles under the eyes to darken. Because the skin under the eyes is very delicate, any increased blood flow shows through the skin. Changing these medications may be helpful in resolving the dark circles.
Anemia - the lack of nutrients in the diet
, or the lack of a balanced diet, can contribute to the discoloration of the area under the eyes. It is believed that a lack of mineral iron can cause dark circles as well. Iron deficiency is the most common type of anemia and this condition is a sign that not enough oxygen is getting to the body tissues.
The skin can also become more pale during pregnancy and menstruation
(due to lack of iron), allowing the underlying veins under the eyes to become more visible.
Fatigue - a lack of sleep
or excessive tiredness can cause paleness of the skin, allowing the blood underneath the skin to become more visible and appear bluer or darker.
Liver problems - dark circles under eyes can be symptom of liver disease. This can be easily determined with relatively routine blood tests.
Age - dark circles are likely to become more noticeable and permanent with age. This is because as people get older, their skin loses collagen
, becoming thinner and more translucent. Circles may also gradually begin to appear darker in one eye than the other as a result of some habitual facial expressions, such as an uneven smile. Treatment of age related dark circles can be done either temporarily with cosmetic fillers or more permanently with surgical rejuvenative procedures on the lower eyelid called blepharoplasty surgery.
- periorbital hyperpigmentation is the official name for when there is more melanin
produced around the eyes than is usual, giving them a darker color. There is no way of curing or reducing dark circles, but applying an eye cream that contains vitamin k
and retinol is thought to help. Recent research has shown that skin creams containing these two ingredients reduce puffiness and discoloration significantly in many patients. Make-up can also be used to change the coloration of any exposed skin. Some dermatologists may recommend a hydroquinone
solution often mixed in an oil free moisturizer that acts like a skin bleach.