Dark circles under the eyes, also called periorbital dark circles, are a common cosmetic complaint. In most circumstances the appearance of these dark circles are due to the blood vessels under the skin. These blood vessels are more easily visible in this location because the skin around the eyes is the thinnest skin in the human body. There are a number of factors that can lead to dark circles appearing and they are often recognized as a symbol of tiredness or stress. Let’s take a look at the most common causes of this condition.
What causes dark circles under the eyes?
The most common cause of dark circles is simply a matter of genetics. These people inherit the traits that make the appearance of dark circles more noticeable. These traits can include: larger veins close to the skin surface, more transparent skin and bone structure that leads to shadows in this region.
People with allergies, such as hay fever and food allergies, and asthma also commonly notice this condition. It is thought to occur because the eyes often itch with these conditions and constant rubbing or scratching can lead to dark circles.
Lack of sleep and being excessively tired are also linked with dark circles. This is because these conditions can lead to pale skin, which show the blood vessels under the skin more clearly.
Another possible cause of dark circles is certain medications that cause the blood vessels to dilate (widen). The increased blood flow through the blood vessels is particularly noticed under the eyes.
A lack of iron (anemia) is also thought to be responsible for dark circles under the eyes, because it causes pale skin. A lack of iron also commonly effects women during menstruation and pregnancy.
One of the symptoms of liver disease is dark circles under the eyes.
Age can also be a factor in developing dark circles. As we get older our skin loses collagen, which makes it thinner and more translucent.
Some people suffer from a condition known as Periorbital hyperpigmentation where more melanin (skin pigment) is produced around the eyes. This is one case where the dark color doesn’t come from the blood vessels under the skin!