Dark circles under the lower eyelids are common in men and women. Often accompanied by bags, dark circles can make you appear older than you are. Though they can affect anyone, dark circles are most common in people who:
- are elderly
- have a genetic predisposition to this condition (periorbital hyperpigmentation)
- are from non-white ethnic groups (darker skin tones are more prone to hyperpigmentation around the eye area)
There are a number of factors that can contribute to dark circles under the eyes. In most cases, they are no cause for concern and do not require medical attention. Read on to learn more.
Fatigue: Oversleeping, extreme fatigue, or just staying up a few hours past your normal bedtime can cause dark circles to form under your eyes. Sleep deprivation can cause your skin to become dull and pale, allowing for dark tissues and blood vessels beneath your skin to show. Lack of sleep can also cause fluid to build underneath your eyes, causing them to appear puffy. As a result, the dark circles you see may actually be shadows cast by your puffy eyelids.
Age: Natural aging is another common cause of those dark circles beneath your eyes. As you get older, your skin becomes thinner. You also lose the fat and collagen needed to maintain your skin’s elasticity. As this occurs, the dark blood vessels beneath your skin become more visible causing the area below your eyes to darken.
Eye strain: Staring at your television or computer screen can cause significant strain on your eyes. This strain can cause blood vessels around your eyes to enlarge. As a result, the skin surrounding your eyes can darken.
Allergies: Allergic reactions and eye dryness can trigger dark circles. When you have an allergic reaction, your body release histamines as a response to harmful bacteria. Other than causing uncomfortable symptoms — including itchiness, redness, and puffy eyes — histamines also cause your blood vessels to dilate and become more visible beneath your skin. Allergies can also increase your urge to rub and scratch the itchy skin around your eyes. These actions can worsen your symptoms, causing inflammation, swelling, and broken blood vessels. This can result in dark shadows beneath your eyes.
Dehydration: Dehydration is a common cause of dark circles under your eyes. When your body is not receiving the proper amount of water, the skin beneath your eyes begins to look dull and your eyes look sunken.
Sun overexposure: Overexposure to the sun can cause your body to produce an excess of melanin, the pigment that provides your skin with color. Too much sun — particularly for your eyes — can cause pigmentation in the surrounding skin to darken.
Genetics: Family history also plays a part in developing dark circles under your eyes. It can be an inherited trait seen early in childhood, and may worsen as you age or slowly disappear. Predispositions to other medical conditions — such as thyroid disease — can also result in dark circles beneath your eyes.
At-Home treatments: apply a cold compress, get extra sleep, elevate your head, soak with tea bags, conceal with makeup. Also, cosmetic acupuncture is purported to improve skin and act as an anti-aging treatment in part by stimulating the production of collagen (a protein that acts as a major component of your skin). As you age, your skin’s inner layer loses collagen and, as a result, becomes less supple and firm. However, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that acupuncture can promote collagen production. Some proponents also suggest that cosmetic acupuncture can help rejuvenate your skin by improving your overall energy.