Pathologic Dark Circles Around the Eyes

Pathologic dark circles around your eyes dark circles around your eyes may be a symptom caused by a disease or by conditions that are symptoms of a disease 1. Diseases that lead to dark circles may affect your hormone levels, body fluids and tissues throughout your body. The Mayo Clinic recommends working with your doctor or healthcare professional to get an accurate diagnosis.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Atopic Dermatitis

The Mayo Clinic indicates that pathologic dark circles around your eyes may occur with atopic dermatitis 123. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic or long-term skin disease that is also known as eczema. Your skin may itch or become inflamed and you may experience asthma attacks or hay fever if you have eczema. You may develop eczema as an adult or early in life as an infant and it can affect any area, including the area around your eyes. Eczema may cause itchy red or brown patches on the skin around your eyes, including your eyelids.

Pathological Nasal Congestion

You may develop dark circles around your eyes with illnesses that cause nasal congestion. The common cold, influenza, sinusitis and rhinitis all may cause nasal congestion. Nasal congestion that occurs with these and other diseases may contribute to dark circles around your eyes, because it dilates and darkens the veins that drain fluid from your eyes to your nose.

Thinning Skin

Diseases that cause your skin to thin may lead to dark circles around your eyes. For example, Cushing’s disease occurs when your body is exposed to too much adrenocorticotropic hormone 5. Excessive amounts of this hormone subsequently expose your body to more of the stress hormone cortisol. According Medline Plus, skin changes like thinning and easily bruised skin are common with Cushing’s disease 5.

Collagen Vascular Diseases

You may get dark circles around your eyes due to diseases that can cause collagen loss in your skin and other body tissues. For example, dermamytositis is a collagen vascular disease that causes swelling and rashes on your skin. According to Medline Plus, the cause of dermamytositis is unknown but may result from immune system problems or a viral infection in your muscles. Symptoms of collagen vascular diseases like dermamytositis include purple or violet-colored eyelids.


Hypothyroidism is a thyroid hormone deficiency disease. Hypothyroidism may occur at any age and is common in older adults. According to the Merck Manuals of Medical Information online database, obtaining a diagnosis for hypothyroidism may be easier for younger adults, because it may be more subtle or atypical in older adults. You may develop dark circles around your eyes, because hypothyroidism can cause an infiltration of complex sugar molecules in your face, which leads to swelling and discoloration in your face and around your eyes 1.