Dark eye circles are the pigmented areas of skin below your eyes. You may have heard them colloquially referred to as “panda eyes”.
These are different from eyebags, which are swollen bags under your eyes. However, eyebags and dark eye circles often appear together.
Dark eye circles do not indicate any medical problem but can make you look tired and much older than you are. It can also be quite difficult to get rid of dark eye circles.
The lack of sleep is not the only reason why you have dark circles under your eyes. Dark circles are caused when blood pools beneath the thin skin that is under the eyes and the blood vessels contract due to inflammation. This creates a bluish, brown, or reddish colour.
Here are the causes of dark circles.
If you have thin skin, the colour from the blood vessels under your skin and your bone structure is more exposed which gives rise to the pigmented skin we term as dark eye circles.
Ageing can also contribute to thinner skin over time.
If you didn’t get enough sleep, your blood circulation and oxygen flow to your skin is disrupted. This causes your skin to become dull which makes your dark eye circles more obvious.
If you regularly do not have enough sleep, your skin may age faster and become thinner over time which causes dark eye circles.
When you have eye bags, the swelling pushes the blood vessels closer to the surface of the skin which causes discoloration, especially since the skin under your eyes is usually much thinner.
Eye bags also cast a shadow on the underside which contributes to the appearance of dark eye circles.
The loss of collagen under your eyes causes the area to look hollow and the blood vessels may be more visible.
This can be caused by ageing or smoking as smoking can cause your skin to age prematurely.
Your skin produces more melanin with increased sun exposure which can increase pigmentation around your eye area.
If you have broken capillaries under your skin, blood leaks out and stains the skin. This is similar to how bruises are formed as the haemoglobin in your blood breaks down to a blue-black colour.
When eczema heals the skin may be darkened due to deposition of pigments, a condition called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
The skin under your eyes may become deflated due to the loss of fats. Blood vessels will be closer to the surface of the skin which gives rise to the appearance of dark eye circles.
Treatment of dark eye rings will depend on the causative factors. For instance, in most Asian dark rings is due to genetic factors and usually there is no treatment for this.
The next common cause is skin pigmentation and this can be improved with specific creams and treatment with pigment specific laser.
In Caucasian patients, the dark eye rings are often contributed by blood vessels beneath the skin and this can be treated with the vascular laser.
Sometimes the skin may look dark because of sunken eye, or thin loose skin. This can be improved with dermal fillers which corrects the skin texture and improves the sunken appearance. Light reflects better after dermal fillers and this makes the skin less dark.
It’s very important to choose the right doctor with the required expertise and who will recommend the right treatment options for you.
Here are some tips to choose the right doctor:
You should find a doctor you can trust and discuss all treatment options with.
Dark eye circles are not only caused by the lack of sleep. Ageing, genetics and sun exposure can also contribute to dark eye circles.
While you can try home remedies to get rid of your dark eye circles, surgery and non-surgical treatments can often be faster and more effective. Do your research and consult your doctor to discuss your options before deciding to commit to any treatment.
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