We all know that lack of sleep for a week or two or putting in extra hours at work can leave you with dark circles. However, what most of us don’t realise that certain health problems such as stress and fever can also cause dark circles or periorbital hyperpigmentation as your doctor would call it.
So before you splurge on various treatment options make sure you find out the exact cause of under eye dark circles:
Genes: It is mainly seen in people of Asian and African ancestry as they have genes that produce more melanin around the eyes, causing a bluish appearance under the eyes.
Age: With age, the skin under the eyes tend to become thinner. This causes the blood vessels under the eyes to start showing, which leads to dark circles.
Alcohol: If you are an alcoholic or heavy drinker, then you are prone to dark pigmentation under your eyes. This is because alcohol not only causes dehydration but also dilates the blood vessels causing the dark circles to be prominent.
Nutritional deficiency: Lack of Vitamin K and Vitamin B12 can lead to poor circulation of blood and leads to inadequate oxygenation of the tissues under the eyes.
Excessive sun exposure: The skin under the eyes is thin and delicate and very sensitive to sun damage. Hence, excessive exposure to the sun not only makes the area under the eyes prone to damage but also increases the production of melanin, leading to dark circles.
Lack of sleep: It goes without saying that lack of sleep can not only make your eyes look tired and puffy but also lead to a temporary darkening of skin under the eyes. Not sleeping enough and accumulating sleep debt leads to poor blood circulation to the areas around the eyes, which causes dark circles.
Vision problems: In some cases, myopia or nearsightedness can cause dark circles because of over exhaustion of the muscles that line the eyes due to changes in the vision (refractive errors).
Anemia: Iron deficiency leads to anemia, which causes decreased blood flow to the body tissues. In some cases, it can contribute to the discoloration of the area under the eyes leading to dark circles.
Eczema: This skin condition can make your skin itchy, patchy and inflamed. When you rub or scratch the skin under the eyes, it can cause dark circles if the blood vessels in the under eye area are ruptured.
Periorbital cellulitis: An infection and inflammation of the eyelids caused by bacteria, periorbital cellulitis can lead to discoloration of the eyelid and the area around the eye. It also causes pain and swelling in and around the eyes.
Kidney disease: When the kidneys are damaged, it causes fluid retention beneath the skin. In extreme cases such as nephrotic syndrome, it can lead to swollen and puffy eyes along with dark circles.
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1. Roh MR, Chung KY. Infraorbital dark circles: definition, causes, and treatment options. Dermatol Surg. 2009;35(8):1163-71.
2. Agrawal S. Periorbital hyperpigmentation: Overcoming the challenges in the management. Nepal Journal of Dermatology Venereology and Leprology. 2018;16(1):2-11.
3. Vrcek I, Ozgur O, Nakra T. Infraorbital dark circles: A review of the pathogenesis, evaluation and treatment. J Cutan Aesthet Surg 2016;9:65-72