Ask my patients who have them and they will tell you that nothing makes them feel old and tired like dark under eye circles! In fact, they are always asking me what they can do to get rid of, or improve, those appearance-draining circles under their eyes. However, you don’t have to be older to get dark circles under your eyes. In fact, dark under eye circles can plague people of varying ages, men and women alike. They can be aggravated by many things, and can be treated several ways, but are really only caused by one thing.
What Causes Dark Under Eye Circles
The cause of dark undereye circles is an ongoing, rather complex process called hemoglobin degradation in which your body clears leaked blood from tiny capillaries throughout your body. The skin under your eyes is thinner than most skin on your body and when your body can’t drain this leaked capillary blood from under your eyes fast enough it results in dark undereye circles. Some other things that can aggravate the appearance of dark eye circles are:
- Lack of sleep – makes your facial skin paler and under eye areas darker by contrast.
- Allergies – especially indoor dust and mold allergies which can keep the nasal sinuses constantly congested.
- Nasal sinus congestion – causes the veins and capillaries under the eyes to dilate and often leak microscopic amounts of blood that turn dark under the skin.
- Anemia – chronic anemia can cause dark undereye circles as well as dark bruises elsewhere.
- Vitamin deficiencies – particularly B vitamins.
- Skin type – pigmentation irregularities are notable especially in certain ethic groups such as African Americans and Asians.
- Lifestyle – smoking diminishes oxygen in the skin. Chronic alcohol causes tiny blood capillaries to break and/or expand and cause bruise-like dark circles.
- Toxins – constipation, from lack of water, fiber.
- Pregnancy and menstruation – can aggravate anemia by loss of iron.
How To Treat Chronic Dark Undereye Circles
If your dark circles occur only once in a while, you may just want to invest in a good cosmetic concealer. This should be a good quality pancake type makeup in a small roll-on stick that matches, or is slightly lighter than, your skin tone. Visit a good, department store makeup counter so you can try these on your wrist to match color before purchasing. Meanwhile, try to get some more sleep. Most of us need at least 7-8 uninterrupted hours of sleep per night to look rested the next day.
If your dark circles seem to be more chronic, they may have another source to them, here are a few recommendations to consider:
- Rule out any underlying illness such as anemia. See your doctor and get a blood test that will measure your hemoglobin and hematocrit.
- Elevate your head while sleeping. Nasal sinus congestion is one of the top causes of undereye circles. Adding more pillows, or elevating the head of the bed, will help mucus drain and not pool in your sinuses.
- Rinse nasal passages. Especially in the early spring, fall, rinsing allergens out of your nasal passages can go a long way to help get rid of dark undereye circles.
- Apply cold. Some of my patients put metal teaspoons in the freezer for a few moments and press them to their undereye area. Others use ice cubes wrapped in a washcloth, or cooled tea bags, especially green or black teas, pressed to their undereye area.
- Iron. Are you getting enough? 18 mcg a day for women and 23 mcg for men.
- Vitamin K – many drugstores and health food stores carry an ointment for dark undereye circles that contains Vitamin K. This assists your body in the “undereye capillary blood clean up” process by helping the leaked capillary blood in this area to clot.
- Vitamin A – repairs skin and keeps it strong.
- Vitamin C – helps create collagen which knits skin together and makes blood vessels strong to prevent capillary leakage. Strong antioxidant that protects against free radicals present in toxins.
- Vitamin E – augments the actions of Vitamin A, also a strong antioxidant.
As I advise my patients, dark undereye circles don’t have to be permanent fixtures just because you’ve gotten a little older and the skin around your eyes a little thinner. If you strive for daily optimal nutrition, get adequate exercise and sunlight, keep hydrated, get enough rest, and stay away from allergens and toxins like smoke and too much alcohol, you can regain vibrant and youthful-appearing eyes, and clear, facial skin. We’ll leave those dark circles for the raccoons!
Dark Undereye Circles, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dark-circles-under-eyes/MY00346
What Causes Dark Circles? http://www.darkcirclesgone.com/undereyes.html