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Severe Dark Under Eye Circles

By Jeff Herman ; Updated July 18, 2017

If you suffer from dark circles under your eyes, you're probably tired of people asking you if you're sick or tired. There's a variety of underlying causes -- and potential remedies -- for such circles, which can lower your self-esteem and make you hesitant to engage in social and work-related group activities.

A Common Condition

According to research performed by beauty product manufacturer Clinique and reported by "The New York Times," 53 percent of 13,000 women surveyed reported that circles and puffiness under the eyes were their top beauty concern. It's not limited to women, however, as many men suffer from the appearance of "raccoon eyes" as well. "The New York Times" cited a report by market research group Mintel stating that anti-aging products, which include the many dark-circle treatments on the market, increased from $588 million in 2001 to more than $1 billion in 2006.

Dietary and Habitual Causes

Sometimes, dark circles are simply the result of not getting enough or consistent enough sleep. You should focus on getting a solid eight hours of sleep and going to bed at the same time nightly to provide your body consistent rest. Smoking is another cause, as it tends to restrict flow through the blood vessels, including those under your eyes.


Allergies are another potential cause of your dark circles because of the histamine reaction they often cause, as facial itchiness that may be causing you to rub your eyes. If you have allergies and you believe this might be causing your circles, consult a doctor about anti-allergy medication. The results may be two-fold: fewer allergic reactions, and a refreshed under-eye appearance.


Though dietary habits and other factors can cause dark circles, it can also be a hereditary condition or the result of hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation occurs when patches of skin become darker because your body is producing excessive amounts of melanin, the naturally occurring substance that colors skin. This is especially prevalent in dark-skinned people and those of Middle Eastern, Hispanic and East Indian descent.

Medical Treatment Options

If lifestyle and dietary changes do not reduce your dark under eye circles, there are medical treatments to help the condition. Your doctor may prescribe four or more intense pulse light (IPL) treatments to smooth the skin and destroy the darkened skin cells around the eye. A skin lightening cream containing kojic acid or hydroquinone may also help to lighten your under eye area. In some cases, eyelid surgery or blepharoplasty should remove puffy skin that causes the appearance of dark shadows under the eyes.

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