Under Eye Dark Circles- Tailored Treatment According to the Cause
Though dark eye circles are not dangerous, they make people feel self-conscious, and most of them seek ways to treat or hide them.1 However, it may not be possible to remove them altogether.2 Nevertheless, the good news is, if one can figure out the reason behind the shadows, then one can lighten them up.1
One can select an appropriate treatment after understanding why dark circles develop under their eyes. Some people change their lifestyle habits, while some go for treatments and products available in beauty stores.2
The most common causes of under-eye circles are those which can be modified:
Seasonal allergies can lead to clogging in the small veins beneath the eyes. So, when the blood vessels become blocked, blood accumulates, making them congested and look darker.
Solution: By treating the allergies. An oral antihistamine or saline nasal spray can be used. An eye drops can be used to get the allergens out of the mucous membranes in the eyes. When outside, wear wraparound sunglasses, and wash the hair and bedding more often. Avoid rubbing the itchy eyes as it can damage blood vessels walls, causing them to break and release pigment.1
Stress, either physical or emotional, smoking, and excessive drinking of alcohol are some of the causes of dark eye circles. 3
Solution: One can change certain lifestyle factors to improve health and reduce the appearance of dark eye circles2, for instance, by limiting the alcohol intake.1 If someone experiences darkening of the skin under their eyes in the morning, which fades slightly during the day, puffiness and swelling can be the reason for the darker color. Thus by elevating the head during sleep, blood will travel away from the head and face and may reduce swelling and lessen the dark color under the eyes.2
Constant UV exposure can increase pigment production in the skin cells.1 Also, in some people, ultraviolet radiation can worsen dark eye circles.2
Solution: Minimizes sun exposure. Protect the skin from the sun by using sunglasses, moisturizers with sunscreens (SPF 30 or higher), and hats. It will also help in preventing the worsening of dark eye circles.1,2
Lack of sleep3
Poor quality sleep can lead to dark eye circles in some people. Lack of sleep can also aggravate dark eye circles.2 Also, the sleep position matters as fluid tends to pool in the space below the eyes making the area appear swollen in the face sleeper.1
Solution: Getting adequate sleep, rest, and good general health lessens the dark eye circles.1,2
Solution: Eye creams with vitamin K can help stimulate blood flow to prevent pooling around the eyes from leaky blood vessels.1 Also, reduced appearance of dark eye circles has been observed with the use of eye pads containing caffeine and vitamin E. Another one is Vitamin C which can increase collagen production under the eyes that can reduce blood stasis which can cause discoloration. An improved appearance of dark circles under their eyes might be observed with the beauty products containing high vitamin C concentrations.2
When dehydrated, the body responds by retaining water which leads to puffiness and under-eye bags.
Solution: Proper hydration helps prevent dark circles. Drink more water. Staying hydrated is vital to get rid of the bags under the eyes. Drink eight ounces of water eight times a day, which is the daily recommended amount.4 Also, cucumbers have a high water content that helps to hydrate the skin around the eyes. Thus, cold cucumbers are a great way to soothe the area under the eyes and reduce swelling and redness.4 Other causes for dark eye circles are nasal congestion, atopic dermatitis (eczema), heredity, hormonal changes due to pregnancy and/or menstruation, prediabetes, medication side effects, and dysfunctioning the liver.3 However, a person cannot modify some factors, such as genetics.2
Sometimes shadowy circles or discoloration occur due to an excess pigment around the eyes. This type of discoloration tends to be genetic, which occurs mostly in those with darker skin. It can also be triggered by frequent sun exposure, allergies, or alcohol consumption.1
Solution: People can use products or methods to minimize dark eye circles appearance.2
Applying cold compresses
Cold compresses reduce dark eye circles' appearance at the skin's surface, swelling around the eyes, and lessening the dark color.
Cucumber slices and tea bags
Some people apply cucumber slices to the eyes to reduce the appearance of dark eye circles. It may help improve swelling due to sleeping, eczema, or allergies. Some also use teabags. After cooling it off in the fridge and placing them on the eyes might produce the same effect as cold compresses or cold cucumber slices. However, it does not treat the problem but only improves the appearance temporarily.
It can help promote collagen production and improve the appearance of dark eye circles. It also decreases the melanin content in the skin. As retinoids creams are not appropriate for everyone; thus, one should talk to the doctor before using retinoid creams.
Hydroquinone, kojic acid, and arbutin creams
Hydroquinone, kojic acid, and arbutin disrupt the production of melanin in the skin. Low concentrations of hydroquinone and kojic acid can be effective. However, they may cause side effects. Thus, before using them, people should consult a dermatologist.
Concealers and Makeup
A makeup foundation can conceal dark patches under the eyes. Optical diffusers are also used, which can improve the dark circles appearance.2 Some people can seek medical help for dark eye circles.
Fillers: A hyaluronic acid soft-tissue filler can be injected to fill the hollows under the eyes, which reduces the appearance of dark circles to a great extent. This can be done very safely by a certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Fillers can be combined with another procedure, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) rejuvenation, to give under eyes even more of a boost.
Surgery: A lower blepharoplasty involves taking excess fat in the bulges underneath the eyes and repositioning it around the socket to fill in for a smoother and less shadowy look. It may take up to 2 weeks for the bruising to go away and a few months for all the swelling to subside.
Peels: Chemical peel dissolves outer dead layers of skin to lift some of that dark color and lighten discoloration. A light chemical peel can remove the outer skin layer, while a medium chemical peel targets skin cells from the epidermis and part of the dermis underneath.
Lasers: They can lighten pigmentation, stimulate collagen production, and target blood vessels underneath the skin.2
Dark eye circles are a common problem. Most people may not like the appearance of dark circles under their eyes and experience low self-esteem and reduced quality of life. However, it is important to remember that they can be treated to a great extent. It is important to determine the dark circles' cause and address them to achieve an effective result. A combination of approaches including lifestyle changes, home remedies, skin products and medical treatments gives the best results in reducing the under-eye circles.
- Stepko B, How to Get Rid of Dark Circles Under Your Eyes, April 16, 2020, https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2020/treating-dark-circles-eyes.html, last accessed on 24th December 2020.
- 10 ways to help remove dark circles under eyes permanently, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-to-remove-dark-circles-under-eyes-permanently, last accessed on 24th December 2020.
- Problem and Solutions, Problem: Dark Under-Eye Circles, https://www.diamondwayayurveda.com/Articles-Downloads/Darkness_Under_The_Eyes.pdf, last accessed on 24th December 2020.
- Lentz C, 8 ways to actually get rid of your dark under-eye circles, Apr. 13, 2018, https://www.bellaskininstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Insider1.pdf, last accessed on 24th December 2020.