Question

Skin Care

What causes dark under-eye circles?

A Answers (5)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Your co-worker isn't the only one who has thin skin. We all do -- at least under our eyes. That's the thinnest anywhere on the body, and that allows dark, venous blood to show through. So if you are standing or sitting upright, blood pools there more.

    In addition to being caused by lack of sleep, dark rings can be brought on by allergies or asthma. These conditions can cause more blood to pool in the tissues under the eye and can add puffiness to the area.
    Helpful? 9 people found this helpful.
  • AYouBeauty answered
    There are tons of causes for under-eye circles. The bluish, purple rings aren’t just associated with getting older -- people of all ages suffer from them due to a host of reasons ranging from heredity to allergies. But with thinning skin combined with lifestyle factors, such as chronic stress, drinking, smoking and sun exposure catching up with us, under-eye circles can take a turn for the worse.
    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • AAnthony Komaroff, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    There are a number of causes of dark circles around the eyes. It's hard to say for sure what the cause is in each case, but possibilities include:
    • Aging. The older we get, the looser the skin around the eyes tends to be. It becomes easier to see veins through the skin. Veins have a blue tinge to them. They may dilate when lying down or if you have nasal congestion or seasonal allergies. This causes the area around the eyes to appear darker than other skin.
    • Heredity. You are more likely to have dark circles around the eyes if your close relatives have them.
    • Fluid retention. Puffiness around the eyes may be more prominent after heavy salt intake, from pre-menstrual bloating or other causes of fluid retention, such as kidney or liver disease. Puffiness can contribute to loose skin that makes dark veins more noticeable, as noted above.
    Besides makeup or other cosmetic approaches, there are a few things you can do about dark circles under the eyes. These include:
    • Getting regular checkups and treatment for any condition that contributes to fluid retention
    • Getting treatment for sinus congestion or allergies if you have these problems
    • Limiting salt intake
    Unfortunately, none of these is a reliable treatment, especially if you have a strong family history of dark circles under the eyes.
  • AKeri Peterson, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    Dr. Keri Peterson - What causes dark under-eye circles?

    Watch as internal medicine specialist Dr. Keri Peterson explains what may be causing your dark under-eye circles.


  • AAdam Scheiner, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, answered

    As we age, we discover that one of the most noticeable changes to our appearance involves the eye area. Perhaps the most common complaint I receive as a specialist in cosmetic eyelid rejuvenation is that my patients have heard from others that they look sick or tired, even when they are feeling well and rested.

    Typically, the origin of such unwanted comments is the non-verbal messages the lower eyelid region sends out as we age. This area can be affected by many different factors that contribute to dark circles under the eyes—the first is the convexity or concavity of the lower eyelid fat. If the lower eyelid fat protrudes into the lower lid region, it often catches overhead shadows.
    Because most light is above us in our world (consider sunlight outside and room lights inside), this light is likely to cast a shadow over the protruding fat that becomes visible on the skin under this fat in the lower eyelid. The result of the shadowing is unattractive dark circles, sending a message of fatigue or illness.

    A converse problem relating to lower eyelid fat is rare but can occur occasionally and involves the lack of fat in the lower eyelid region, causing a sunken-in appearance that similarly catches and displays shadows in the lower eyelid skin.
    The second factor contributing to the appearance of dark circles under the eyes is dark pigment, which can deposit in the skin in the lower eyelid region. This is usually the result of sun exposure over a lifetime.

    A third factor patients experience is the underlying vessels transmitting through the thin skin in the lower eyelid region.

    Finally, the fourth factor, which can play a role in the appearance of dark circles under the eyes, is the presence of lower eyelid and cheek swelling, known as lower eyelid and cheek festoons.

    While these four common causes of dark eye circles can result in less than optimal nonverbal messages, there are options available to treat them that can rejuvenate the appearance and clean-up facial messages to restore effective nonverbal communication.

    Helpful? 4 people found this helpful.
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