Dark Eye Circles Explained
Tired of having tired-looking eyes?
You’re not alone! They can affect individuals of any age, gender or ethnicity. Dark circles are one of the most common presentations to skin clinics. The spectrum of dark eye circles can range from mild to deep pigmentation – regardless of the severity, they can often make a person look more tired, sad or drained. We explain everything you need to know about dark eye circles. Read on to find out more…
Why do you get dark eye circles?
Dark eye circles occur when the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) in the skin under your eyes are either overstimulated or damaged, resulting in increased production of pigment.
Plus, as we get older, dark circles may become more prominent because we lose fat under the eyes and skin gets thinner. This exposes your vessels in this area, resulting in a blue-purple discolouration.
Often with dark eye circles, the pigment is deposited much deeper than some pigmentary skin disorders (in the skin dermis), making dark eye circles more difficult to treat.
Who gets dark circles?
A wide range of ages, both genders and all ethnicities.
Who is more at risk?
Dark circles are more prevalent in women than in men.
Darker skin types are more affected than lighter skin types.
“Pigmentation under the eyes can give the illusion your tear trough is deeper.”
What causes dark eye circles?
The cause is often multifactorial – this means the cause is usually due to a combination of reasons, such as those listed below.
- Genetics – dark circles are often seen in multiple members of the same family
- Excessive UV exposure (high sun exposure, tanning beds etc) – UV light stimulates pigment-producing cells, making any existing skin pigmentation darker.
- Hormonal changes – certain hormones can stimulate your pigment-producing cells.
- Lack of sleep – fatigue and poor sleep is know to darken eye pigmentation
- Ethnicity – dark circles are more pronounced in certain ethnic groups
- Allergies – dark circles are more common in those with allergies. This group of people often rub or scratch eyes due to their allergies which damages the delicate skin around the eyes, resulting in deeper pigmentation. This process is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
What treatments are available?
A wide range of treatments are available for dark eye circles. Whilst some truly do see improvement in dark eye circles, not all types of dark eye circles are amenable to treatment. As a general rule, the deeper the pigmentation, the harder it is to treat. It also depends on the cause of your pigmentation too. This is why a consultation and examination by an aesthetic doctor is essential before starting any treatment!
Examples of treatments include:
- Prevent is better than cure! It is essential a high factor SPF is worn to prevent pigmentation of any kind worsening.
- Topical treatments (creams): Pigment controlling creams (such as tyrosinase inhibitors), retinols and vitamin C. Topical treatments are a great non-invasive treatment.
- Chemical peels
- Dermal filler – very effective if the pigment changes are related to volume loss. This treatment is called ‘tear trough’ treatment.