Dark circles are areas under the lower eyelids that can appear darker due to thinning, hollowing and drying out of the skin causing the underlying blood vessels to show up and give a darkened appearance. The scientific term for dark circles under the eyes is periorbital hyperpigmentation.
THE CAUSES OF DARK CIRCLES
Lack of Sleep
Oversleeping, extreme fatigue, or just staying up a few hours past your normal bedtime can cause the skin under the eyes to become dull and pale, allowing for the underlying dark tissues and blood vessels to show. Lack of sleep can also cause fluid to build underneath your eyes, causing them to appear puffy. As a result, the dark circles you see may actually be shadows cast by your puffy eyelids.
Excessive Staring at your television or computer screen can cause significant strain on the muscles around your eyes (known as hypertrophy). This strain can cause blood vessels in the skin around the eyes to enlarge and show up resulting in a darkened appearance. If your eyes have refractive errors (i.e. plus or minus numbers) not corrected by an eye specialist through spectacles or contact lenses, then the eye strain can be even greater leading to even more significant darkening of skin.
Overthinking, mental exhaustion & fatigue can lead to lack of sleep, increased eye muscle movements, poor nutrition & drier skin can lead to dark circles, puffy eyes and eye bags.
Dehydration is a common cause of dark circles under your eyes. When your body is not receiving the proper amount of water, the skin beneath your eyes begins to look dull and your eyes look sunken and hollow. This is due to their close proximity to the underlying bone.
Natural aging is another common cause of those dark circles beneath your eyes. As you get older, your skin becomes thinner. You also lose the fat and collagen needed to maintain your skin’s elasticity. As this occurs, the dark blood vessels beneath your skin become more visible causing the area below your eyes to darken.
A diet that lacks vitamins particularly vitamin B12, E, K and D has been associated with dark circles as per scientific studies.
Smoking depletes your body’s stores of vitamin C, which is the vitamin responsible for creating healthy collagen in your skin. If you smoke, you may deal with issues like wrinkles, discoloration, and even under-eye bags and dark circles.
Overexposure to the sun can cause your body to produce an excess of melanin, the pigment that provides your skin with colour. Too much sun — particularly for your eyes — can cause pigmentation in the surrounding skin to darken.
Family history also plays a part in developing dark circles under your eyes. It can be an inherited trait seen early in childhood, and may worsen as you age or slowly disappear. Predispositions to other medical conditions , such as thyroid disease, can also result in dark circles beneath your eyes.
WHO IS MOST PRONE TO GETTING DARK CIRCLES?
Those prone to dark circles under the eyes include the elderly, people of non-white ethnic background and people with a family history of dark circles.
REDUCING DARK CIRCLES - WHAT DOCTORS ADVISE
REGULAR EYE CHECKUPS
Get your eyes checked by an eye specialist atleast once a year to correct any refractive errors (plus or minus numbers) and advise you on how to reduce eye strain
SLEEP & STRESS CONTROL
Get atleast 7 to 8 hours minimum sleep each night. Also avoid oversleeping. Adopt a daily Meditation and Yoga routine that would allow you to keep a calmer and cooler mind throughout the day and better manage stress.
Drink adequate water each day (atleast 2.5 litres) to maintain an optimum level of hydration for your body and skin.
Eat a healthy and well balanced diet rich in vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, K), minerals and soluble fibre. Eat atleast 5 portions of fruits & vegetables a day.
Wear an appropriate water-resistant sunscreen depending on your skin type and skin colour of SPF 30 or higher about 30 minutes before you head outdoors. Also wear UV rays blocking sunglasses that properly cover the eye area.
Quitting smoking can gradually restore your body's stores of vitamin C which leads to increased collagen production in the skin, thereby reducing the chances of developing under-eye bags and dark circles.