Dark circles under eyesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dark-circles-under-eyes/MY00346
What ages you most? Surprisingly, it might not be wrinkles or gray hair, but dark circles under your eyes. Dark circles under eyes usually aren't a sign of exhaustion or serious illness, though they can make you feel old, unhealthy and tired. Dark circles under eyes affect both men and women, often starting in adulthood, although children can develop dark circles under eyes, too.
If you get plenty of sleep and still have dark circles under your eyes, that's not unusual. Fatigue isn't the only reason for under-eye circles. What appear to be under-eye circles are sometimes just shadows cast by puffy eyelids or hollows under your eyes that develop as a normal part of aging.
Here are some of the most common causes of true under-eye circles.
- Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
- Heredity — dark under-eye circles can run in families
- Lifestyle factors, such as physical or emotional stress, smoking, or chronic alcohol use can take a toll on your appearance
- Nasal congestion
- Pigmentation irregularities — these are a particular concern for people of color, especially blacks and Asians
- Rubbing or scratching your eyes
- Sun exposure, which prompts your body to produce more melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color
- Thinning skin and loss of fat and collagen — common as you age — can make the reddish-blue blood vessels under your eyes more obvious
When to see a doctor
If discoloration and swelling appear under just one eye and seem to get worse over time, talk to your primary care doctor.
If you want a more lasting solution than concealers and over-the-counter creams can provide, see your dermatologist for advice. More treatments are available for dark circles under eyes than ever before and range from makeup and laser therapy to, in some cases, surgery. Because results aren't always perfect, however, it helps to have realistic expectations.
Depending on what's causing the circles under your eyes, your doctor may recommend prescription creams or a combination of treatments to erase or reduce discoloration. Laser therapy or chemical peels can be helpful in some cases. Hollows that cause shadows can be smoothed with injectable fillers, and surgery can eliminate puffy lids.
However, dark under-eye circles usually aren't a medical problem, and home remedies for dark circles under eyes may be all you need to help manage this condition.
Mild to moderate dark circles often respond well to simple and inexpensive treatments, such as:
- Cold. Try a cold compress, two chilled teaspoons or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a soft cloth to temporarily reduce dilated and discolored under-eye blood vessels. Or try a cooled, used teabag.
- Extra pillows. Elevate your head with two or more pillows to prevent puffiness that develops when fluid pools in your lower eyelids.
- Extra sleep. Although short nights don't usually cause under-eye circles, a lack of sleep makes you paler and more hollow-eyed, so shadows and circles you already have are more obvious.
- Dark glasses and sunscreen. Although a tan might hide dark circles in the short term, in the long run, the extra pigment it produces can make circles worse.
- Saline washes or sprays. Rinsing your sinuses with a saltwater solution (mix 1/4 teaspoon sea salt with 2 cups warm water) or over-the-counter saline spray can help relieve nasal congestion.
- Cosmetics. Hundreds of skin creams that claim to reduce or prevent under-eye circles crowd department store and drugstore shelves. The results of one study showed that a serum containing plant-based compounds, including root extracts and Brazilian suma, significantly improved the appearance of dark under-eye circles.
- Camouflage. The right concealer can do just that — hide dark circles. If the circles under your eyes are bluish, use a peach-colored concealer, not one that's white or gray. And avoid scented products and those containing salicylic or glycolic acid, which can irritate delicate eye tissue, making redness and swelling worse.
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