What causes dark circles ?
It is commonly assumed that dark circles are caused due to lack of sleep; however a variety of other conditions can cause them.
This is the most common cause of dark circles. The skin around the eyes is thin, delicate and prone to allergies. Cosmetics like eyeliners, kajal and eye shadows are the common allergens. People who suffer from hay fever may notice darkening around the eyes during acute attacks. Some food allergies can also cause the area under the eyes to appear dark. The person may develop an allergy to their own oil or sweat. In fact any condition that causes the eyes to itch can contribute to dark circles.
Dark circles can be caused due to hyper pigmentation. The pigmentation can result from sun exposure, chronic eye-rubbing or oiliness of the skin. The pooling of oil and sweat in the natural skin pockets under the eyes can trigger pigmentation. On an oily skin these pigmented patches are typically seen around the eyes, nose corners and under the lower lip.
Dark circles are often inherited and can appear in childhood. Some children eventually outgrow them but some don’t.
Dark circles are likely to become more noticeable with age. As people get older, their skin loses collagen, the muscles which support the eyelids become weak and the skin become thinner and more translucent causing the lids to appear puffy.
Sinus or nasal inflammation leads to venous congestion which in turn can dilate the blood vessels that drain from the area causing dark circles. Patients with venous congestion often complain of headaches or are found to be rubbing their eyes. In most of these cases, treating sinusitis or the allergy can reduce the dark circles by itself.
Lack of nutrients
Iron deficiency or lack of Vitamin C can cause dark circles. Many women with low hemoglobin levels find dark circles becoming more prominent during periods or during pregnancy. The iron deficiency can prevent the blood from carrying sufficient oxygen to eye tissues. Skipping meals, chronic illnesses like stomach or thyroid problems or sudden and severe weight loss can also result into dark circles. Identifying and fulfilling the deficiency can often reverse the dark circles.
Fluids also may accumulate in the space below the eyes, adding to the swelling. This is seen with fluid retention in the body which may happen with pregnancy, weight gain or certain diseases. Excess salt in the diet can also cause fluid retention.
Fatigue, Stress and Sleep Deprivation
Adequate sleep and rest are very essential. Unfortunately with rising responsibilities of work and family, many people do not get adequate rest. Lack of sleep causes the blood vessels under the skin of the eye to dilate causing the typical sunken, hollow appearance around eyes
A major part of skin repair and regeneration happens during sleep. It is in the sleep phase that the blood circulation focuses on the tissues and cells of the skin giving it a more rejuvenated appearance. Therefore one of the immediate consequences of lack of sleep is dark circles. On the other hand, oversleeping can also sometimes cause dark circles..
Certain medications can cause blood vessels to dilate. Because the skin under the eyes is very delicate, any increased blood flow shows through the skin.
Excessive smoking or drinking can cause dark circles. People who drink too much coffee may have difficulty getting enough sleep.