Causes of Dark Circles Around Eyes

by A. Elizabeth Freeman

You look into the mirror and a woman who is at least 10 years older than you peers back at you. It's not wrinkles or gray hair that make you look older, it's those dark circles under your eyes, states MayoClini.com. You may have dark circles from a lack of sleep or thanks to your genes. In some cases, the circles are a result of aging or medications you may take.

Birth Control Pills

In some cases, taking birth control pills can cause the blood vessels under the eyes to dilate, which makes them more prominent, especially if the skin under the eyes is thin. If you think your birth control is the cause of your circles, you may want to try a different method.

Allergies and Congestion

Blood vessels under the eyes may become larger when you suffer from allergies or if your nasal passages become congested for any reason. Blood will collect in the vessels under your eyes when the nasal passages are blocked, making dark under-eye circles more noticeable. MayoClinic.com recommends clearing congestion with salt water to help lessen the appearance of dark circles. If the circles are caused by allergies, taking an antihistamine should help, too.

Thinning Skin

As you get older, your skin gets thinner and you lose collagen in certain areas, such as under the eyes. Blood vessels become more visible as your skin becomes thinner, which makes circles more prominent. If thinning skin is the cause of your under eye circles, a dermatologist or other doctor may use a laser to zap away extra blood vessels, which reduces the appearance of the circles.

Extra Pigmentation

If you have dark skin, the circles under your eyes may come from excess pigmentation. Exposing your skin to the sun can make existing dark circles worse, as the sun causes your body to produce extra melanin, or skin pigment. Wear sunscreen and shield the eye area with glasses to protect yourself from the sun.

Puffiness

Sometimes, dark circles under the eyes are just an illusion, caused by puffiness and shadows. Not getting enough sleep can make your eyes puffy. False dark circles will vanish when you pull the skin under the eye tight, according to WebMD. Applying a cold compress to the area will help reduce puffiness and eye circles as will sleeping with an extra pillow and getting a full night's rest.

About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, A. Elizabeth Freeman has been writing professionally since 2007, when she started writing theater reviews for OffOffOnline.com and Theater Talk's New Theater Corps blog. Since then, she has written for Phillyist, TheNest, ModernMom and "Rhode Island Home and Design" magazine, among others. Freeman has an Master of Fine Arts in dramaturgy/theater criticism from CUNY/Brooklyn College.