Under eye dark circles have always been the signs which give people away, betraying their exhaustion to others, so much so that dark circles have become synonymous with fatigue. Although true to an extent, there is a lot more to dark circles than people usually know.

What Causes Dark Circles?

Even though we feel that fatigue and exhaustion are the major causes for under-eye dark circles, there are certain underlying reasons and conditions which may also be causing it. Stress, genetic dispositions as well as aging play a large role in the occurrences and frequency of dark circles (1).

Dark circles are characteristically known by the shadowy darkness that forms under the eyes. Although older adults are prone to developing them, even children who strain their eyes and have an imbalanced diet or lifestyles can also suffer from them. The root cause of dark circles is the lack of proper blood circulation in our system.

This particularly shows under the eyes because the skin there is thinner than on the rest of the body, and there is considerably less fat under there than on rest of the face exposing more blood vessels (2). Our body’s well being is clearly indicated or sometimes given away by the state of the under eye region.

The facial bone structure and such genetic traits are one of the foremost reasons why dark circles are more or less prominent. Apart from this, there are certain skin conditions like eczema, uneven skin pigmentation and even sun exposure which can cause dark circles.

Does smoking cause Dark Circles?

Excessive sun exposure, as well as smoking, have a harmful effect on the skin. They have the ability to damage the protein structure in the skin known as collagen. This is what keeps the skin looking firm and such loss of elasticity in the skin, commonly known as elastosis can lead to aging and dark circles (3).

The skin structure is easily compromised by acts like smoking, consuming alcohol and prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays. The thinning of the skin or loss of fat which accompanies aging is only sped up by such habits. It can make blood vessels under the eyes more prominent, and restrict oxygenation of the skin. And since the skin under the eyes is far thinner, this immediately shows its effect there.

Are Dark Circles hereditary?

If parents complain of their younger generation having dark circles and leading an unhealthy lifestyle, little to they know the role they play in it themselves. The blame for dark circles can partly be placed on genetics because it is hereditary. As mentioned earlier, hereditary traits like facial bone structure highly influence the occurrence of dark circles.

Some of the more serious concerns with dark circles under the eyes are that it is often linked to underlying medical conditions which can be far more severe. For instance, there is asthma and allergies which often lead to swollen eyes and itching. This increases dark circles in a very short period of time.

Also, the medication that we consume for various conditions can sometimes affect blood vessels. It is always advisable to ask your doctor about which medications dilate blood vessels, especially if you are looking to avoid the appearance of dark circles (4).

Moreover, dark circles are sometimes symptoms or signs that doctors check for while diagnosing diseases related to the body. When kidneys or the liver malfunction, one of the first effects they have is on blood circulation, and this evidence shows up as dark circles (5). Adding to this, there are certain vitamin deficiencies such as low levels of vitamin K which can trigger dark circles. And if the body is dehydrated, it also affects the blood circulation.

Do Under Eye Dark Circles go away?

When it comes to dark circles under the eye, a combination of healthier lifestyle changes and treatment, be it home or doctor prescribed can help in improving and lightening dark circles.

How can Dark Circles be removed?

Upon consulting with a dermatologist, it is possible to get to know if the dark circles you suffer from are due to excessive melanin. In this case, the best remedy recommended and prescribed by dermatologists are often topical creams which have bleaching or lightening properties. The usual ingredients present in such medication are agents like hydroquinone, vitamin C, and retinol.  

Hydroquinone is a substance that restricts the skin from producing excess melanin (6) by inhibiting an enzyme called tyrosinase, leading to a lighter skin. This is a common ingredient in many skin lightening creams. However, it tends to be a very potent chemical, which when used in excess can cause irreversible damage to the skin.

Similarly, vitamin C is a natural ingredient in the system that influences the type of melanin that is formed. Melanin is the pigment in our skin which gives it the characteristic dark color.

By producing an antioxidant known as glutathione, it supplements the production of a lighter pigment known as pheomelanin (yellowish), instead of eumelanin, the darker pigment (7). And it additionally also suppresses tyrosinase like hydroquinone does, to help in lightening skin tone, especially the eyes.

However, instead of going to such lengths, you can easily depend on proper sunscreen with sufficient SPF to protect from the possible damage caused by sun exposure. And there are many home remedies and slight lifestyle changes which will go a long way in reducing dark circles.

The best ways to deal with dark circles are still acts of prevention and rehabilitation of the body through lifestyle changes. Accommodating sufficient amount of sleep into your everyday schedule and avoiding alcohol and caffeine consumption as much as possible can work wonders on ridding you of dark circles (8).

As for home remedies, these are not always backed by dermatologists, simply because it is an increased risk to subject such sensitive and fragile skin to foreign products, before accessing whether they can react badly to the skin.

Nevertheless, there are certain harmless home remedy ingredients with natural bleaching properties like honey, or lemon juice packs that can naturally lighten dark circles. These can be administered once or twice a week to see improvement. However, all this is based on your type of skin and sensitivity. Another natural ingredient good for the skin is turmeric and its paste, which can only benefit the skin. Be sure to consult with dermatologists before trying such home remedies.

Do Dark Circles go away with Laser treatment?

This is one of the more frequently asked questions about dark circles, and the answer is that yes, laser treatment does exist to get rid of dark circles.  Laser resurfacing is similar to chemical peeling in the sense that it gets rid of old damaged skin to reveal younger and brighter skin underneath.

However, this procedure uses a laser instead of chemicals. It comes in two forms which are either ablative (wounding) or non-ablative (non-wounding).

Their similarity lies in their fast speed of results that they help achieve, and that is the reason for their growing popularity (9). It is stated that although healing process is lengthy, the results can be immediately witnessed and “can last for years.”

This is one of the few treatments recommended by professional for dark circles, but they do stress on the risk factors involved, especially when it is near the eyes. Knowing all this, patients with dark circles can make an informed decision.

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