Dark circles under your eyes mean the area of skin below your eyes looks darkened. This area may appear as shades of blue, purple, brown or black, depending on your natural skin color. Dark circles under your eyes may make you look tired or older than you are.
Dark under-eye circles have many possible causes. But they’re usually not a symptom of a medical problem. Dark circles under your eyes typically aren’t a cause for concern. But you may want to lighten the appearance of your under-eye circles for cosmetic reasons.
Dark circles under the eyes affect people of all ages, races and sexes. All skin types can show varying levels of dark circles too. Dark circles under the eyes are more common in certain groups of people, though. These groups include:
. Elderly people.
. People with a family history of dark circles under their eyes.
. People with darker skin tones.
Dark circles under your eyes can happen for many reasons. One of the most common causes of dark circles is aging. As you age, the skin below your eyes begins to loosen and thin out so the blood vessels under your skin may become more visible. This can darken the appearance of your under eyes. Hollowed areas called tear troughs may develop as well. Tear troughs cause shadows that increase the appearance of puffy eyes.
Other causes of dark circles under your eyes may include:
. Genetics: Studies have shown that dark circles under your eyes may run in families.
. Dermatitis: Eczema and contact dermatitis can cause the blood vessels under your eyes to dilate and show through your skin.
. Rubbing your eyes: Rubbing and scratching your eyes can cause your under eyes to swell and your blood vessels to break.
. Lack of sleep: Poor sleeping habits cause the skin under your eyes to appear pale. Your blood vessels can easily show through your skin.
. Hyperpigmentation: Too much exposure to the sun triggers your body to make more melanin. Melanin is the substance (pigment) that gives your skin its color.
. Dehydration: The skin under your eyes can start to look dull when you don’t drink enough water.
. Lifestyle factors: Other factors such as stress, excessive alcohol use and smoking can cause dark circles under your eyes.
Dark circles under your eyes can’t always be prevented. But there are some changes you can make that may help. These changes include:
. Use sun protection: Don’t forget to put sunscreen on your face, especially around your eyes. And wear sunglasses.
. Adjust your sleep schedule: Get to bed on time, and make sure to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
. Reduce your stress: Find healthy ways to manage your stress, such as scheduling time for self-care.
. Cut down on drinking: Drinking too much alcohol can cause reduced circulation.
. Quit smoking and using tobacco. Smoking speeds up the aging process your skin goes through.
There are many things you can do at home to get rid of the dark circles under your eyes. Home remedies may include:
. Get more sleep: Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night to prevent shadows from appearing around your eyes.
. Use more pillows: Elevate your head with a couple of extra pillows to prevent fluid from collecting under your eyes at night. This may help with puffiness.
. Cold compress: Apply cold spoons to your eyes to help shrink dilated blood vessels. This can reduce puffy eyelids and the appearance of dark circles.
. Cucumbers: Lay cucumber slices on your eyes. This can help with puffiness because cucumbers are full of water and vitamin C.
. Teabags: Place cold tea bags under your eyes. This can increase circulation because tea contains caffeine and antioxidants.
. Facials: Facials that include massage around the eye area can help improve circulation.
. Makeup: Use an under-eye concealer and makeup foundation to blend the color of your skin to cover your dark circles.
If you’re hoping to remove your dark circles fast and permanently, call your healthcare provider. They can let you know what treatment options are available for your skin condition. Medical treatment options for dark circles under your eyes may include:
. Topical creams and bleaching agents: Topical creams, such as vitamin C, and bleaching agents, such as hydroquinone, can help lighten the appearance of dark circles under your eyes.
. Chemical peels: Chemical peels use alpha-hydroxy acids to reduce the pigmentation under your eyes.
. Laser therapy: Laser procedures can help resurface and tighten your skin. Noninvasive laser options include pulsed dye and diode lasers.
. Tissue fillers: Injectable fillers such as hyaluronic acid gel can increase volume and help smooth out your skin.
. Eyelid surgery: In a procedure called blepharoplasty, excess fat and skin are removed from your eye area.
. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections: These injections can repair the skin around your eyes, speed of blood vessel growth and strengthen collagen and your skin.
If you have dark circles under your eyes, it’s probably just a sign of aging, lack of sleep or another common cause. It’s usually not caused by a medical problem. But if you have a dark circle or swelling under just one eye, call your healthcare provider. You may have an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed.
Babies and children can develop dark circles under their eyes for the same reasons adults do. The skin underneath their eyes is thin and sensitive so their blood vessels show through more. Dark circles under your baby’s eyes may be caused by genetics, rubbing their eyes or fatigue. They may also be developing a minor illness such as a cold, flu or ear infection. Other causes of dark circles under your child’s eyes include dehydration, snoring and injuries. Talk with your child’s healthcare provider if you’re concerned about the dark circles under your child’s eyes.