Dr Vikas Sharma
The skin under the eyes is very delicate, sensitive and considerably thinner than skin elsewhere on the body. The skin around the eyelids (periorbital skin) is the thinnest skin in the body (around 0.5 mm thick compared with 2 mm in other areas).
Puffiness and dark circles in this area are caused by multiple factors. Without turning to the latest in chemical-laden skincare products sometimes a basic natural approach is quite effective in keeping this delicate area looking its best.
Switching on to an active healthy lifestyle can help one in reducing the cosmetic disorders of under eye skin. A better understanding of the root cause can provide insights into ways to reduce dark circles and bags under eyes, or to at least delay it.
Cause & effect
In most cases, the dark circles under the eyes are blood vessels that can be seen through the skin. Like varicose veins, dark circles under the eyes are usually an inherited trait. When blood passes through the large veins close to the surface of the skin, it can produce a bluish tint. The more transparent the skin—the darker the circles appear. In people with a deep-set bone structure, shadowing can also contribute to the dark colour under the eyes.
Any condition that causes the eyes to itch can contribute to dark circles due to rubbing or scratching the skin around them. Atopic Dermatitis sufferers in particular will notice under-eye pigmentation during the height of the allergy season. Some food allergies can also cause the area under the eyes to appear darker.
Lack of sleep can cause paleness of the skin, allowing the blood underneath the skin to become more visible and appear bluer or darker.
Vasodilator drugs or medications that cause blood vessels to dilate can cause skin under the eyes to darken. Because the skin under the eyes is very delicate, any increased blood flow shows through the skin.
The lack of nutrients in the diet, or the lack of a balanced diet, can contribute to the discoloration of the area under the eyes.
Dark circles are likely to become more noticeable and permanent with age. This is because as people get older, their skin loses collagen, thus becoming thinner and more translucent.
As one gets older, bags under the eyes can also become a more permanent fixture. This is because as an individual ages, the muscle and skin structures in the face begin to weaken, and are no longer able to sufficiently hold up the fatty tissues around the eyes.
People, who wake up with puffy eyes should sleep on their back and add an extra pillow under their head.
What to do
It is very important to rule out other possible causes that can contribute to the skin disorders in this area such as kidney or thyroid problems, infection, or an allergy.
- Sleep with your head slightly raised. Add an extra pillow or prop up the head of your mattress. This helps prevent fluids from accumulating around your eyes.
- Talk to your dermatologist about prevention strategies if you develop under-eye reactions due to hair dyes, soaps, cosmetics or other allergens.
- Do not smoke, and always apply a hypoallergenic sunscreen under the eye area. Smoking and exposure to UV rays both weaken collagen and cause premature sagging to this area.
- Apply a fragrance-free moisturizer to the delicate under eye area regularly to keep an adequate hydration index.
Get rid of it
Medical and surgical treatment options for under-eye dark circles and bags include:
- Laser resurfacing is useful in improving only the skin tone and firmness of the skin around and under the eyes. This tends to lessen the appearance of under-eye dark circles and bags to some extent only and improve any discoloration.
- Injecting dermal fillers under the eye is a very “technique-dependent” procedure. The filler needs to be injected deep under the muscle rather than into the superficial layers of the skin. However this is not beneficial in all cases and is laden with risks.
- Eyelid surgery (Blepharoplasty) is one of the best options to remove bags under eyes.
(Dr Sharma is a Chandigarh-based