Dark, under-eye circles are a common concern among women of all ages, often causing a tired and less youthful appearance. There are many different causes of under-eye circles, and treatments are chosen based on the particular cause in each individual. Let’s discuss some of these causes:
- Swelling and puffiness – under-eye puffiness can appear as dark bags and is usually worse in the morning. Minimizing salt and alcohol intake, which lead to water retention, may help. I recommend sleeping on your back with an extra pillow to prevent fluid from draining toward the eyes overnight. Another remedy is to use already steeped, refrigerated green tea bags first thing in morning to help reduce any fluid buildup. Storing your eye crème in the refrigerator before applying and gently massaging the area to help drain the lymphatics may help.
- Excessive pigmentation – darkening of the skin may be hereditary, but it doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Allergies and rubbing the area may also lead to skin discoloration. Allergies may cause puffy skin, broken blood vessels or friction-induced darkening under the eyes from chronic rubbing. Oral antihistamines such as Zyrtec, Allegra or Claritin can control the allergies and reduce darkening. Quercetin or grape seed extract are great natural compounds that can ease allergy symptoms. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation will worsen all types of pigmentation, so be sure to use sunscreen and sunglasses every day for protection. Look for an spf30+ containing zinc oxide. A tinted sunscreen can both cover the discoloration and protect your skin from harmful UV rays. EltaMD, Alastin and Jane Iredale all make excellent sunscreens. If, despite these measures, your discoloration persists, speak with a board-certified dermatologist about lightening creams or lasers as a treatment option.
- Prominent vessels – if you press on the discolored area and the darkness improves, blood vessels are likely the culprit. Thin skin in combination with prominent blood vessels can cause dark, under-eye circles. If the skin is thin or the vessels are prominent, anything that enhances blood flow to the area, including physical or mental stress, will make the under-eye circles look worse. Lasers can successfully lessen the vessels, causing the darkening to the lower lids. Protecting the eyes in this procedure and going to the most experienced physician cannot be emphasized enough. Also, the thicker your skin, the less visible the blood vessels will be, so using eye creams that stimulate collagen production may be helpful.
- Loss of volume to the area and thinning of the skin (Hollowing) – Hyaluronic acid dermal fillers may be used to plump these hollow areas that cast shadows under the eyes. Also, using an eye cream with retinol, caffeine, peptides and antioxidants can help fade pigment, build collagen, and constrict blood vessels to make dark circles less noticeable. I like RoC Retinol Correxion eye cream, SkinCeuticals AOX+ Eye Gel and Replenix Retinol Eye Repair Cream.
I hope this helps give you an idea of where you can get started on your own in treating your under-eye circles with some simple measures using the right eye cream and sun protection. Sometimes, there are multiple causes of eye circles and a personalized treatment regimen is necessary. If you are not satisfied with your results after about three months, I recommend a board-certified dermatologist through www.aad.org who can treat you in the office.
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