Understanding the Under Eye Puzzle
My patient Alka (name changed) once came to me with a peculiar problem. “Doctor Rajat, I’m a happy girl. I like my life and I like my job. But I’m sick of people asking me why I look so glum, because of the dark circles around my eyes. I’ve been called all sorts of names – panda face, raccoon eyes, I’ve even had people ask me to stop doing drugs! How can I get this problem off my face and out of my life?”
Dark circles are a common problem among people across all age groups. First off, “Dark circles” is a term commonly used to describe periorbital hyper pigmentation – simply put, skin darkening around the eyes. Dark circles impart a tired, “hung over” look to the face and may drastically affect confidence levels. Although the actual cause behind dark circles remains a mystery, the condition has been associated with:
Excessive Melanin Deposition – Usually appears like a crescent moon of brown skin under your eyes. It may appear after some diseases or in people with allergies. It’s worse with bulging eyelids.
Venous Causes – With age, there’s loss of elasticity in the blood vessels around the eye. Blood collects right under the eyes and looks dark.
Thin, Translucent Skin – Loss of elasticity, if coupled with thin and translucent skin leads to prominence of the blood vessels too. If you manually stretch the skin of your lower eyelid and the color deepens, it’s skin thinning that’s causing your dark circles.
Other Causes – Other causes include photoaging (skin aging from excessive exposure to sun), drug use or conditions such as erythema dyschromicum perstans, acanthosis nigricans or pigmentary demarcation lines. Don’t worry about these big words, such conditions are usually inherited and have a host of other symptoms which manifest first.
Now you might wonder, why some people get dark circles and some don’t? Is it something they eat? Is it the way they live?
How diet and stress affect dark circles, is a bigger mystery than the Bermuda Triangle, really. Restrictions in your diet, especially a deficiency in iron and proteins can lead to dark circles. Stress, excessive alcohol and smoking can cause dark circles too, but the exact cause behind this is unknown.
Prevention is better than cure and there’s not many ways to cure dark circles.
Dark circles can be lightened, but never completely cured – it’s always best to remember this before falling prey to gimmicky treatment options. However, do consider these lightening options:
Under-eye creams – with a plethora of creams available in the market claiming to make under eye dark circles disappear, it’s tough for you to choose the right one. Hydroquinone, retinoic acid, alpha hydroxyl acids, kojic acid, licorice are some of the commonly used agents – check the labels of the creams. Plant extracts such as arbutin, ginseng, and green tea extracts also work beautifully. Vitamin K, Vitamin E and Vitamin C are commonly employed to fade out dark circles. Sometimes manufacturers may add hyaluronic acid to the formulation since it works so well in hydrating aging skin. It’s not an overnight treatment though; applying these creams religiously day after day is the only way they show some effect.
To summarise, here’s the different creams available, from easy on the pocket to slightly exorbitant:
The pretty priced ones are:
1. Wunder eye cream by Glenmark
2. Avarta Under eye cream from Dr Reddy’s
3. Eyez 40 Gel by Salve
Other options a bit more pressing on your wallet are:
1. Flavo C serum and Melaclear serum both by Auriga
2. Sebamed Q10 Eye contour cream
3. DCL eye refining matrix
4. Clinique Repairwear Laser focus cream
5. Lancome’s Genifique Eye cream
On the other hand, cooling gels work (well, doubtful exactly how well they work) by cooling the vessels around the eyes, which constricts them and prevents the pooling of blood.
Potatoes contain bleaching properties and cucumbers contain anti-inflammatory properties- which is why they’re so popular with grandmothers and salon experts alike. The cucumber particularly will help bags under the eyes more than the dark circles per se. Chilled cucumber slices or pureed potatoes would be the way to go. Apply them to the eyes for around 15-20 minutes and wash off with warm water.
Other home remedies available for dark circles may include, chilled tea bags (especially green tea), cold spoon application and mint leaves.
Yoga may help alleviate dark circles as well since it calms your system so well.
A good night’s sleep and regular intake of foods rich in Vitamin K may prevent your dark circles from worsening. Try including broccoli, brussel sprouts, strawberries and liver to your diet.
Haemorrhoid creams –This is a new one even for me. They essentially help in vessel closure in your rectum and are also anti-inflammatory. If the cause of your dark circles is dilated blood vessels, these creams may have some use. (If you can get over their true purpose that is)
And finally, here’s what you should know about the various treatment options available, in case you DO have problematic dark circles like the patient I mentioned.
Commonly used cosmetic procedures include chemical peeling. Eyelids absorb any drug, including chemical peels better than other body parts. This area is also prone to complications due to thinner skin. Patience and due diligence in selecting the right procedure is important and one should definitely visit a skin specialist for a chemical peel involving the area around the eye.
The agents used may involve glycolic acid, lactic acid, retinol or other combination peels. The combination peels are usually safer, but do remember that darker skins have an increased risk of side effects.
Dark circles due to excessive pigmentation have been successfully treated with various pigment lasers. If skin laxity is the cause for your dark circles then fractional lasers may help (they’re the same ones used for doing away with acne scars)
You can even go for dermal fillers, which are big with celebrities, but make sure an experienced surgeon or dermatologist does it for you.
Lastly, if you’re just worried about the tired look then hyaluronic acid treatments for fine lines really transform your face from exhausted to rejuvenated.
Alka tried a laser treatment after we analysed her skin and found excessive pigmentation as the cause of her dark circles. She actually has people come up to her and tell her she looks 10 years younger than what she is. And I’m sure she’s having a renewed sense of confidence about her.
So go ahead grab that new sense of confidence for yourself.
Source: My Dermacy