*Nothing in this article constitutes medical advice. Seek the guidance of a physician if you have any questions.*
Most people assume dark circles under the eyes indicate lack of sleep, and in some cases, that assumption would stand correct. However, several different factors can cause dark circles under the eyes. Dark circles under the eyes may look purple or blue to dark brown or black, depending on skin color. These circles are usually harmless and cause concern, but some people may want to reduce their appearance for cosmetic reasons. According to Medical News Today, "the area under the eyes can appear darker due to constricted blood vessels causing hyperpigmentation, or from thinning of the skin around the eyes." This blog article will discuss the various causes of dark circles and what can prevent and eliminate them.
Causes of dark circles under the eyes include:
- Hyperpigmentation (when the body produces more melanin)
- Reduced fatty tissue around the eyes
- Thinning skin under the eyes
- Anemia from iron deficiency
- Overexposure to sunlight
Risk factors for dark circles under the eyes:
- Aging: Losing fatty tissue around the eyes can cause the skin to become thinner, but it is part of aging. Dark circles on an adult may appear darker than teens or young children.
- Nonwhite ethnicity: Dark circles affect people with darker skin tones more than white people. Experts believe this is due to changes in pigmentation.
- Genetics: Dark circles can be hereditary.
Vitamin Deficiency and Dark Circles
Eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining adequate levels of essential vitamins can help prevent or eliminate dark circles under the eyes. Experts have found four vitamins that can reverse the problem of dark circles under the eye.
- Vitamin K- is the first Vitamin mentioned in most articles because a deficiency in Vitamin K is known to cause dark circles under the eyes. Vitamin K strengthens veins and capillaries but is also vital for blood clotting and healthy circulation. If a person is low on Vitamin K, their capillaries may weaken and leak, and the capillaries leaking around the eyes will look like dark circles. Many eye creams incorporate Vitamin K, but it is easy to get adequate amounts from a well-balanced diet. Green leafy vegetables such as kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and avocados.
- Vitamin C – is the first Vitamin that people think of when fighting off a cold, but this Vitamin is just as good at eliminating dark circles from around the eyes. Vitamin C helps fight dark circles by strengthening the skin around the eyes. That skin is naturally thinner, and when dark circles form, the darkness comes from the visible network of blood vessels around the eyes. Vitamin C builds collagen, which improves the elasticity of the skin. There are eye creams with Vitamin C on the market, but they tend to be unstable. Experts agree that the best way for a person to get Vitamin C is by eating the right foods. Plenty of foods have vitamin C, such as oranges, strawberries, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower.
- Vitamin A – is one of the main vitamins that reverse aging skin. If a person is deficient in Vitamin A, the skin around the eyes tends to become dry and thin, making the person look old and tired. A well-balanced diet is the best way to get an adequate amount of this Vitamin. For example, peaches, mangos, pumpkin, spinach, and cantaloupe are rich in Vitamin A.
- Vitamin E – is a powerful antioxidant. This Vitamin protects against free radicals, which experts believe caused many aging signs, like thinning and wrinkling of the skin under the eye. Vitamin E is offered in both capsules and topical creams, but one can get the proper amount from eating the right foods. For example, olives, vegetable oils, nuts, asparagus, and avocado are rich in Vitamin E.
Allergic shiners are dark circles under the eyes, typically coming from the nose and sinuses' congestion. Experts categorize these types of dark circles as dark, shadowy pigments that look like bruises. Allergic shiners got their name due to allergies causing them. Allergic shiners are also known as allergic facies and periorbital hyperpigmentation.
If allergies cause dark circles, then other symptoms will be present. Other symptoms of allergies include:
- watery, red, itchy eyes (allergic conjunctivitis)
- scratchy throat or roof of the mouth
- nasal congestion
- sinus pressure
- runny nose
Obstructive Pediatric Sleep Apnea
Obstructive pediatric sleep apnea causes dark circles under the eyes of children. This sleep disorder is caused by the partial or total blockage of breathing during sleep due to narrowing the airway.
Other symptoms that may suggest that your child has this disorder are the following
- Snoring with extended pauses in breathing
- Night terrors and restless sleep
- Dry mouth
- Breathing through the mouth
Due to a lack of sleep or excessive activity during the day, children may experience fatigue episodes, leading to dark circles under the eyes.
Foods That Cause Dark Circles
We have all heard how important it is to maintain a well-balanced diet. Well, certain foods can cause dark circles under the eyes. For example, a person trying to get rid of dark circles should avoid drinking coffee. It is also important to note that foods high in sodium and potassium may cause dark circles. Check out the list of foods below that cause dark circles:
- Caffeine - Coffee not only causes dark circles and lousy skin but also contributes to sleeplessness.
- Turkey – Turkey is high in the potassium content, which is known for causing dark circles.
- Sweet Potato- is high in fiber and delicious to eat but commonly causes dark circles.
- Salty foods - are typically high in sodium which makes the body retain water. Water retention leads to puffy and tired eyes.
- Chocolate - Chocolates are rich in caffeine which can be bad for the skin, contribute to sleeplessness and dark circles.