The Truth About Dark Circles: Causes and Links to Diseases
Most of us blame dark circles on lack of sleep, exhaustion or staring at the computer screen for hours. But the truth goes deeper than those dark pools you've tried so hard to fight. Experts and studies have linked dark circles to graver problems like anemia, liver disease and dehydration. Dr. Satish Mehta, Ophthalmologist from Moolchand Eye Clinic gives us an insight into the darker reasons of dark circles.
First, let’s understand how dark circles appear. We have tiny blood vessels, which are like a web under the skin. But these capillaries are so fine that the red blood cells queue up to pass through; in the process some of them leak in the surrounding area. Enzymes are produced during the cleaning up session. The breaking down of these red blood cells leaves them black and blue. The reason why this is so visible is that the skin around the eyes is the thinnest.
Common reasons for dark circle:
Aging - The skin under the eyes is thin and delicate to begin with. As we grow older, skin around the eyes becomes thinner making blood vessels more prominent, causing dark circles.
Genetics - Hereditary and genetics can also play a big role in the development and dominance of dark circles around the eyes.
Nutritional deficiency - Dark circle around the eyes can be due to poor nutrition. A healthy and nutritious diet filled with vitamins like A, C, K, E and nutrients can help to get rid of dark circles.
Sleep deprivation and tiredness - A lack of sleep or excessive tiredness results in pale skin, making blood under the skin become more visible and appear more blue or darker.
Smoking and drinking - Late night parties, smoking and drinking can play havoc with your skin and result in dark eye circles. Dark eye circles could be a sign of loss of water from the body (dehydration) due to excessive drinking and intake of caffeinated drinks.
Sun exposure - Increased exposure to the sun can draw pigmentation of the skin’s surface and create dark circles. Long sun exposure produces more melanin around eyes than usual, giving them a darker color. There are two main layers of skin, the outer layer of skin known as epidermis and inner layer known as dermis. When excess melanin is being made in the epidermis it appears brown, and when there is more than usual melanin in the dermis it looks blue or blue grey.
Hormonal changes - In women, the skin undergoes lots of changes during the phase of pregnancy and menstruation, causing darkening under the eyes.
Allergies - Any condition that causes the eyes to itch may contribute to darker circles due to rubbing or scratching the skin around them. Apart from that, some food allergies can also cause the area under the eyes to appear darker. In fact, dark circles in children often indicate allergy problems.
Research also suggests that dark circles are linked to anemia, and liver diseases.
Dark circles and anemia - Iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of inexplicable dark circles in many cases, which can be treated by making simple changes in your diet. Low iron levels is the most common form of anemia, and results in poor oxygenation in body tissues due to low supply of oxygenated blood. Thus, always take a balanced diet rich in green leafy vegetable, dairy products and all types of fruits to keep your body healthy.
Dark circles and dehydration - Dehydration is one of the most common reasons for dark circles under the eyes. The reason is the close proximity to the skin underneath the eye in relation to the underlying bone. When the body does not have a proper amount of water, the symptoms are often evident in this specific area. Thus it is advisable to have at least 8-10 glasses of water and include fresh fruit daily. It is also advisable to restrict the intake of caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee, alcohol and other caffeinated drinks as it aggravates dehydration.
Dark circles and liver disease - Dark circles also indicate liver dysfunction due to various liver ailments. An example of such a liver ailment is hepatitis.
Dr. Satish Mehta is a Consultant in Ophthalmology at Moolchand Eye Clinic, New Delhi.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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