Dark circles below the eyes are a common problem for both men and women. The circles may look purple or blue or dark brown or black, depending on skin colour. These circles are rarely a cause for concern, but people may wish to reduce their appearance for cosmetic reasons. In some cases, dark circles under the eyes can indicate a need for lifestyle changes, such as improvements in sleep habits or diet. The reasons for the dark circles under the eyes are: unhealthy nutrition, hereditary reasons, sleeplessness, aging, physical stress, mental stress, dry skin, long hours in front of the computer screen, and crying for a long time. Even though this is not a serious skin problem, it gives a person an older, tired, unhealthy and exhausted look.
CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS
The area under the eyes can appear darker due to constricted blood vessels causing hyperpigmentation, or from thinning of the skin around the eyes. Among the causes of dark circles under the eyes are lack of sleep or poor sleeping habits, and nutritional deficiency. A healthy and nutritious diet with vitamins like A, C, K, E and nutrients can help to get rid of dark circles. Allergies, including hay fever, and hyperpigmentation, which happens when the body produces more melanin, reduced levels of fatty tissue around the eyes, thinning skin under the eyes, anaemia from iron deficiency, overexposure to sunlight, frequent rubbing of the eyes, aging, smoking and drinking (dark eye circles could be a sign of loss of water from the body (dehydration) due to excessive drinking and intake of caffeinated drinks), inherited genes, thyroid conditions, dermatitis, eye drop treatment for glaucoma, and hormonal changes (in women, the skin undergoes a lot of changes during the phase of pregnancy and menstruation, causing darkening under the eyes) are the other reasons.
People can prevent the appearance of dark circles by addressing lifestyle factors, such as:
Getting enough sleep and reducing stress: Researchers have found that stress increases the appearance of dark circles, while rest and healthy lifestyle habits decrease discoloration.
Protecting the eyes from the sun: Wearing UV protection sunglasses that cover the eyes and wearing sunscreen around the eyes can help prevent or reduce dark circles.
Stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can speed up the aging process of the body and may increase the risk of dark circles.
Foods rich in Vitamin E: Foods rich in Vitamin E help to fight enzymes that break the skin elasticity. Vitamin E fights free radicals which cause wrinkles and ageing. It also helps to remove blemishes and dark circles. Foods like almond, peanuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, and broccoli are good sources of vitamin E.
2. Green vegetables: Eating green veggies improves the texture of the skin by boosting blood circulation. Green veggies like spinach and broccoli are rich in Vitamin K that plays an essential role in promoting blood circulation to reduce discolouration and puffiness.
3. Eat more dark chocolates: Flavanols-rich foods like dark chocolate protect against the harmful effects of UV radiation, thereby slowing down the aging process caused by too much time in the sun. It is a delightful little fact after hearing for so long that chocolate is bad for our skin.
4. Orange juice: As orange juice is high in both Vitamin A and C, it can help remove dark circles from under the eyes. Add a few drops of glycerine to orange juice and then soak a cotton makeup remover pad to apply to under-eye skin. You’ll reap the benefits of orange’s vitamins as well as the natural glow glycerine gives to our skin.
5. Cucumber: Applying cucumber slices to the eyes may soothe tired eyes and reduce swelling. The high water and Vitamin C content of cucumber nourishes and moisturises the skin. Cucumber also contains silica which is essential for healthy tissue.
6. Watermelon: Watermelon is rich in antioxidants including beta carotene that supports eye health. It contains 92% water which helps it hydrate the body. It also contains Vitamins B1, B6, and C as well as potassium and magnesium.
7. Blueberries: They are rich in Omega 3, Vitamins K and C, and manganese—all of which are needed for good eye health. It helps to improve circulation to the eyes and protect blood vessels.
8. Water: Drinking water helps to reduce dark circles and puffiness below the eyes. Water helps to flush out toxins from the body and reduces salt concentration around the eye area.
9. Rose water: Rose water doesn’t just smell fantastic, it can also soothe and rejuvenate tired skin. Like cucumber, it’s a mild astringent, so it can work as a skin toner. Just soak cotton makeup remover pads in rose water for a few minutes and then let the soaked makeup pads sit on your closed eyelids. Leave them for about 15 minutes twice daily. Rosewater is refreshing, rejuvenating and can practically be used on almost all skin types and for all skin-related issues. It’s also a mild astringent and can be used as an effective skin toner too.
10. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are natural bleaching agents. They also contain antioxidants that help to tame down the discolouration around the eye area.
11. Cold milk: Cold milk is a natural cleanser for the eyes and also helps in soothing the sensitive skin around the eyes. Cold milk contains lactic acid, which not only helps to reduce puffiness but also lightens the skin. Additionally, potassium in milk allows the skin to stay better moisturised, leaving us with softer and supple skin.
12. More sleep: People can make sure they are getting enough quality sleep each night to help reduce or prevent dark circles. Raising the head up on extra pillows may help reduce dark circles and swelling around the eyes.
13. Antioxidant skincare products: Face creams and under-the-eye products that contain antioxidants may help to reduce the appearance of dark circles. Vitamins E and C are antioxidants that may help treat dark circles.
14. Remove makeup correctly: Do not go to sleep with your makeup still on. Rub of your mascara and eyeliner. Use a professional makeup removing solution.
15. Yoga/meditation: One of the main reasons for the recurrence of dark circles under eyes is stress, depression and a hectic lifestyle. No amount of home remedies will work if your mind isn’t cool and calm. Yoga and meditation if practiced regularly will not only decrease dark circles but also balance the body clock while calming your mind, body and soul.
—The writer is a BSc student at Govt Degree College Bhaderwah. [email protected]