The Dirty on Dark Circles Around the Eyes

Periorbital dark circles, also known as raccoon eyes, are dark areas or blemishes that appear around the eyes. For people that suffer from dark circles, they can be a nuisance.

Causes of Dark Circles

There are a lot of different reasons someone might have dark circles under or around their eyes. It is commonly believed that they are caused by lack of sleep. While they can be caused from even a little sleep deprivation, there are a lot of other causes as well. Since the periorbital skin, or skin around the eyelids, is the thinnest skin on the entire body, certain conditions can make the blood vessels underneath more visible. This is what we see as dark circles.

The Dirty on Dark Circles Around the Eyes
By: Camera Eye Photography
If you are experiencing a lack of sleep or fatigue, you could get dark circles under your eyes. The more tired you are, the paler your skin gets. When this happens the blood that is underneath the skin is more visible, which can cause the area under the eyes to look darker.

Another cause is age. As you get older you may develop dark circles around the eyes that are darker or even permanent. This is because as you age, your skin will become thinner as it loses collagen. When this happens the skin becomes more see-through, and dark circles are more visible.

A condition that could cause dark circles to appear is periorbital hyperpigmentation. This condition is characterized by having the area around the eyes produce more melanin than usual. This leads to a darker color around the eyes developing. This can also occur when you are exposed to the sun for long periods of time.

If you have liver disease you may also have a symptom of dark circles under your eyes.

Majority of people that have dark circles have gotten it hereditarily. Dark circles can be an inherited trait. If you have inherited skin that is more translucent than other people’s, then you are more prone to having dark circles that are very visible. If you have inherited a bone structure that is set deep, then you could also appear to have darker circles under your eyes due to shadowing of the eyes.

Anemia is another condition that can cause dark circles. If you have an iron deficiency, this can cause the skin and body tissues to not get enough oxygen, causing dark circles under the eyes.

If you suffer from any type of medical condition such as eczema, allergies, or asthma, you may be prone to dark circles. If you have any of these conditions that causes your eyes to itch, you will rub or scratch on and around the eyes, causing darker circles. Certain food allergies can also make circles appear darker.

Since the skin underneath the eyes is so thin, any amount of increased blood flow can make the area appear darker. If you are taking any type of medication that could cause blood vessels to dilate, that could be the cause of your dark circles.

If you are experiencing dark circles and aren’t sure what the cause is, be sure to look at your diet and the amount of nutrients you take in. Having a deficiency of a certain nutrient or vitamin could cause dark circles. You should also be sure to take prenatal vitamins throughout pregnancy since the fetus can take away well-needed nutrients, and cause dark circles.

If you come to no conclusion for the cause of your dark circles, you can always consult your doctor if they become worrisome, and especially if they present with swelling and/or pain.

Treatment for Dark Circles

Having dark circles is not usually a sign of anything serious being wrong with you. Dark circles are not harmful to your health and don’t require treatment majority of the time. Dark circles affect both men and women of all ages. If your dark circles are getting you down, there are a few options to try to help get rid of them.

If you know the cause of your dark eye circles, then you will know the best way to treat them. If they are caused by excessive sun exposure, you should stay out of the sun as much as possible. If it is due to low iron, you should take an iron supplement.

The treatment that is most commonly tried first is a cold compress. Anything that is cold will work, such as two thick cucumber slices or two chilled used teabags. A cold compress helps by reducing the dilation of the underlying blood vessels.

You could also try taking a Vitamin E capsule and piercing it with a needle. Apply a little bit of the oil to the area underneath the eyes, then take the pill with water.

If you are a smoker and your dark circles are bothering you, you should consider quitting. Smoking can cause various blood vessel problems, which can cause dark circles to appear.

If you are experiencing nasal congestion, this could be causing the dark circles. You can create your own saline solution to clear the sinus cavities. Mix 2 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Use the mixture in a nasal pot to pour into your nostril and let it flow out of the other.

You could also reduce the appearance of dark circles by improving your lifestyle. Relax more, eat a balanced meal, get enough beauty rest, and don’t drink an excess of alcohol.


Dark circles can be hidden with the right cosmetics. There are cosmetics and cover ups on the market today that are marketed as being intended just for hiding dark circles under eyes.

Another option is looking into skin creams that are intended to treat or reduce the appearance of dark eye circles. Research has shown that many of these products really do help decrease the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.

If you cannot determine a proper course of at-home treatment, you may need to see a dermatologist. The dermatologist may be able to help you find out the cause of the dark circles, especially if it is a skin condition. Regardless of the cause or the treatment you pursue, dark eyes are rarely a cause for concern and are usually easily treated and preventable.