What under-eye dark circles mean

A poor night’s sleep is guaranteed to give you dark circles or puffiness under the eyes in the morning. But there are a few other reasons why you may develop this appearance.

Some causes are less innocuous than others and can be explained by understanding that the skin under your eyes is sensitive and thin, and more likely to flare if exposed to irritants.

Just under the surface of this part of your face, the tissues – known as orbits – are also prone to swelling more easily with fluid, creating that dreaded puffiness.

The skin under your eyes can appear to be darker than the rest of your face, thanks to dilated blood vessels, which are visible because of the skin’s thinness in this area. These can generally be made to appear less noticeable by applying a cold item to the area so that the vessels constrict. Think ice packs or chilled slices of cucumber. These quick fixes should also work to reduce swelling if you have puffy eyes.

If you appear to have permanent dark circles it could be because of superficial blood vessels. The good news is that these can be removed with laser treatment.

Common triggers that lead to bags under the eyes are the usual culprits – smoking cigarettes, drinking too much alcohol or eating very salty foods.

Those unfortunate to suffer from allergies such as hay fever can also expect problem puffiness. Taking an over-the-counter antihistamine can help to calm the swelling down.

Unfortunately, as we age there is a gradual increase in the size of the fat pad under our lower eyelids. This anatomical condition, known as suborbicularis oculi fat, can be corrected with plastic surgery if it becomes problematic.

In rare cases, dark circles or puffiness can signal an undetected medical condition. If the skin under your eyes is persistently swollen or discoloured, it is a good idea to visit your doctor so that they can perform tests to rule in or out an underlying cause.

American dermatologist Dr Mike Swann says patients with some types of hyperthyroidism can get thickening of the fat around their eyes, causing puffiness.

“Puffy eyelids can also be seen in lupus, dermatomyositis and other connective tissue diseases,” he says.

Do you have any tips for reducing the puffiness or dark circles around the eyes?

Related articles:
The healthy eyes diet
How to get rid of baggy eyes
Common eye problems
Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Olga Galacho

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