Have you noticed any dark spots or circles under your eyes? What could be causing them? Could it be anything serious?
Well, while getting dark spots or circles under the eyes is quite common among children, women, and men, it’s usually not associated with any serious conditions. Other than causing a person to look older than they actually are.
Causes of dark spots under the eye
Normally, dark spots under the eyes result from sleep depravity or overindulgence in alcohol but there are also other causes that lead to the appearance of darker spots under the eyes such as:
1. Seasonal allergies
One of the most common and seasonal allergens is hay fever which causes inflammation that promotes hypervascularity- “the expansion of blood vessels or capillaries” as noted in skincarederm.org
Hypervascularity causes blood vessels to come near the skin surface thus rubbing against it – causing dark spots from the allergen to appear.
Seasonal allergies are especially common in children with either vitamin B12 or B6 deficiency. However, these allergies can easily be treated using over the counter medication such as retinoic acid creams but it’s best to seek medical consultation prior to using any medication and to eliminate the possibility of any allergic reactions caused by the medication.
Alternatively, you can carry out a patch test which involves applying the cream to a small area of your skin to determine whether you will get any allergic reactions.
2. Dairy allergens
The body or rather the digestive system responds differently to protein components in products such as cheese, yogurt, and milk.
However, if for instance, an individual lacks the enzyme lactase cells may fail to process lactose which results in increased levels of lactose in the body, that manifest in the form of darkened spots under the eyes.
Other symptoms associated with dairy allergies include indigestion, skin rashes, nasal congestions, sneezing, nausea or vomiting, itchy eyes, nose and/or the upper part of the oral cavity.
3. Foods, additives, and preservatives
While some people can eat anything and not develop any complications, others react to foods which contain high amounts of amino acids. Usually, the side effects of consuming foods rich in amino acids include swelling and the possibility of developing dark circles under the eyes.
A majority of processed foods contain food additives and preservatives which may contain elements that could cause allergic reactions.
Other symptoms associated with food allergies include hives, a tingly sensation in the mouth, inflammation of mouth (lips, tongue, throat), face and anaphylaxis.
b). Excessive exposure to UV rays
Excessive sun exposure causes an increased amount of melanin production. The excessive amount leads to hyperpigmentation which is deposited on the outer layer of the skin.
As we age, the natural binding effect of collagen diminishes which cause the skin to thin in some areas of the body such as around the eyes thus leading to the formation of dark spots.
d). Excessive eye rubbing
Habitual eye rubbing may be a potential cause for dark circles. Apart from causing the eyes to swell up, rubbing your eyes may lead to scarring, that can possibly leave dark patches upon healing.
The development of dark spots around the eyes is closely associated with genetic factors. This, therefore, means people who share certain genealogical traits are more susceptible to develop this problem if a member of their family-biologically linked, has this problem.
Pigmentation or dark spots are a common occurrence during the last trimester of pregnancy. This is commonly associated with hormonal fluctuations.
g). Periorbital hyperpigmentation
This is a condition whereby there is excess melanin production around the eyes. Normally the condition results from vascularity, drugs, genes and/or hormones.
h). Atopic dermatitis or eczema
This condition causes the skin to develop red or brownish gray skin as well as become itchy. Despite the fact that this condition is not associated with any dark spots, the brownish-gray spots can be very prominent on the light brown skin.
Additionally, the risk factors for atopic dermatitis which include allergies and hay fever are commonly associated with the potential causes that of darkening skin around the eyes.
How to get rid of dark spots under the eyes: treatment
Temporary methods – creams and makeup
1. Topical creams
Topical creams/ serums that contain caffeine as a major ingredient are good for temporary relief. The creams work by causing vasoconstriction of blood vessels in the affected area.
- Hydrating creams: this is a non-prescription cream that boosts the moisture content as well as reduces puffiness and restores your skin’s smoothness.
- Retinoic acid creams: these creams thicken the skin around the affected regions and reduces the effects of reflected light.
2. Topical brightening creams
Brightening creams are especially effective for people who suffer from chronic eye rubbing.
Another alternative to temporarily conceal dark spots under the eyes is the use of makeup- eyeliners, mascara, concealer or even foundation.
The secret is to draw attention away from what’s around or under your eyes to your eye color. Therefore, don’t shy away from grabbing your favorite gel or kohl eyeliner and using some shimmery colors to make your eyes pop.
- Tomato juice: which contains natural bleaching properties.
- Cold compress: applying a cold compress soothes the eyes and causes blood vessels to vasoconstrict.
You can use freshly cut cucumber, cooled in an ice-filled container.
- Raw potatoes.
- Turmeric and pineapple juice.
- Tea bags.
Permanent treatment – Laser and blepharoplasty
This procedure is quite expensive but very effective when it comes to treating dark spots faster and permanently.
The procedure eliminates fat tissue, extra skin, and muscle beneath the skin in the affected area.
Q-switched laser therapy
This process involves the use of intensely pulsed light wave to eliminate fat deposits, brown spots or sun freckles which are common around the eyes.
However, your dermatologist may not be open to these treatment options if;
- you suffer from herpes simplex viral infections(HSV) and cold sores.
- you are under the use of certain medication.
- you are pregnant.
When to see a doctor
If the discoloration is accompanied by inflammation and only seems to be worsening, it may be time to consult your primary health caregiver or a specialist.
Additionally, if you need a more permanent solution other than concealers and over the counter creams, you can see a dermatologist.
Depending on the cause of the discoloration, the doctor may prescribe some over the counter creams or some combination treatments to reduce the darkening.
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