Dark circles under the eyes are when the lower eyelids are darker than the rest of your face. It usually occurs under both eyes and is very different from bruising. Dark circles and under-eye swellings ‘eyebags’ may appear together, making you look older than you are. It can occur due to several reasons ranging from lack of sleep to excessive rubbing of your eyes. Many people resort to bleaching these dark circles with creams, which can be dangerous or worsen the appearance.
Many things may cause dark circles under the eyes, for example:
- Increasing age.
- Tiredness, sleeping too much or not sleeping enough.
- Straining your eyes while reading, working on your computer or watching television.
- Repeatedly rubbing your eyes (e.g. as a result of allergies).
- Excessive sun exposure.
- Not drinking enough water.
- Diet poor in vitamins A, C, E and K and other nutrients like iron.
- Smoking and excessive alcohol drinking.
- Glaucoma drugs.
- Genetics, some people are more prone to have dark circles as they get older. Darker-skinned people are also at an increased risk.
Although the dark under-eye circles do not cause any illness, people are always looking for ways to get rid of them. See your doctor if:
- The circles have been there for a long time.
- You feel any pain or soarness under your eyes.
- The circles appear suddenly or after a fall.
To prevent dark circle under your eyes, you should:
- Avoid rubbing your eyes when they are itchy.
- Limit the amount of time you spend under the sun and find a shade whenever possible. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sun.
- Sleep for at least 8 hours daily and try to go to sleep at the same time every day.
- Eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins and drink plenty of water.
- Avoid smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol
- Do not strain your eyes. If you find yourself straining while working or watching television, adjust the brightness of your screen.
The following are things you can do at home to reduce dark circles under your eyes:
- You can apply cucumbers or cool tea bags to your eyes. Place them on your eyelids while your eyes are closed to help soothe the area. A cool metal spoon or a wet towel will also do the trick.
- Makeup can help cover the dark areas temporarily.
- Eat healthily and make sure your foods contain vitamin C and iron. Vitamin C containing foods include oranges and peppers, while iron-containing foods include red meat, chicken and beans.
- Sleep with your head elevated. You can use a pillow to prop your head up while you sleep.
- Massage the area around your eyes gently.
- Use an eye cream to moisturise under your eye.
There are several options that your provider may recommend. You should not use these treatments at home without a recommendation from your healthcare provider. They include:
- Creams like retinol, hydroxyquinone, azelaic acid and kojic acid.
- Vitamin C (in the form of serum or cream).
- Laser treatments.
- Chemical peels.
Dark circles under the eyes may not seem like a big deal to some, but they can affect your self-esteem and confidence. It is essential to prevent dark circles and avoid habits that could cause you to develop them. Dark circles due to certain factors like poor sleep, medicines, poor diet or alcohol intake may get better when you stop them. Not everyone will need expensive treatments or specialist care. Whatever you do, avoid bleaching. There are several less harmful ways to get your desired results like applying make-up to look better.