How to Get Rid of Dark Circles Under the Eyes

Dark circles aren’t dangerous, but many people want to lighten their appearance

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Dark circles under the eyes are a common complaint, especially of women. The circles of darker skin can appear when you’re tired or experiencing allergies, and some people are more prone to them than others.

It’s important to note that dark circles under the eyes are not dangerous, and they do not require treatment. However, many people want to know how to get rid of dark circles under their eyes for cosmetic reasons.

Read on to learn more about eliminating dark circles under the eyes, including symptoms, causes, and treatments.

Woman looking at face in mirror.

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Causes of Dark Circles Under the Eyes

Dark circles under the eyes are a common set of symptoms, including darker skin pigmentation and possibly puffiness in a circular pattern beneath the lower eyelid. Medically, this area is referred to as the infraorbital area, which is the section of the face between the bottom of the eye sockets and the roof of the mouth.

Research into the cause of dark circles under the eyes is lacking, but some causes have been identified.

Genetics

Some people are just prone to having dark circles under their eyes. They may have thin skin or excess fat deposits in the infraorbital area that cause shadowing. Others have veins close to the skin's surface in that area, which creates more pigmentation (coloration). Although these characteristics are nothing to worry about medically, they can cause dark circles. Dark circles and bags under the eyes can be a physical trait that is inherited, which is why it seems to run in families.

Stress or Fatigue

Many people associate dark circles or bags under their eyes with being tired or stressed. When someone experiences stress or fatigue, the blood flow to the infraorbital area can slow down. Since the skin in that area is thin, the pooled blood can create a darker hue. At the same time, pooled blood can stretch blood vessels, creating swollen bags under the eyes.

Allergies

Common allergic reactions like hay fever cause inflammation and swelling in the eye area. This can lead to dark circles and bags.

Smoking

Smoking can cause you to lose collagen, making the already-thin skin beneath the eyes even thinner. This can make the appearance of dark circles more dramatic. 

Age

Collagen is lost with age and your skin often thins, so dark circles and puffiness are more common in older individuals. This can lead to the reddish-blue blood vessels under your eyes more visible. Also, some people might develop puffy eyelids or hollows under their eyes as they age. These physical changes can cast shadows that appear to be dark circles under the eyes.

How to Treat Dark Circles Under Eyes

Although many people want to get rid of dark circles, there’s no proven way to do so. Genetics plays an important role in the formation of dark circles. Since there’s no way to change genetics, you may not be able to remove dark circles or puffiness completely.

However, some treatment options may help. It helps to understand what’s causing your dark circles—like lack of sleep, allergies, or thin skin. Once you’ve identified the cause, you can choose a treatment that’s most likely to work for you.

Self-Care

Sometimes, dark eyes can reflect the fact that you're not taking care of yourself. Make sure to get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, and avoid smoking. Not getting enough sleep can also increase stress, which can worsen dark circles. You’ll probably feel better overall and may see your dark circles lighten. 

Try to reduce or eliminate sun exposure on your face. Make sure you are wearing sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 every day. Sunglasses and hats can protect the skin from the sun and prevent your dark under-eye circles from getting worse.

Cool Compress

Applying a cool compress to your eyes can reduce inflammation. For added benefit, try applying thick slices of cool cucumbers to your eyelids for about 10 minutes. Then rinse the area with water. Cucumbers contain vitamin K, which has been linked to a reduction of dark circles and improvements in skin elasticity.

Treat Allergies

If your dark circles are caused by allergies, treating the symptoms might reduce the appearance of dark circles or bags. Take a daily antihistamine during the time of year when your symptoms are worst. Use an air purifier, keep the windows closed, and shower before bed. 

Use Eye Cream

Over-the-counter (OTC) eye creams can reduce the appearance of dark circles and bags, especially if you use them for a long time. Look for a cream that has vitamins K and E and that includes a topical antihistamine, which can reduce inflammation.

Consider Fillers

Dermal fillers are substances that are injected by a dermatologist to plump up the area beneath the skin. They can be helpful for reducing wrinkles and hiding discoloration under the eyes. Fillers must be injected by a professional, so talk with your primary car provider or dermatologist (specialist in conditions of the skin, hair, and nails) if you’re interested. 

Laser Treatment

Laser treatments can be used to lighten the skin under the eyes and reduce the appearance of wrinkles that can make dark circles look worse. A dermatologist can help you determine whether laser treatment is right for you. 

Summary

Dark circles are not a medical disorder, but they can be a cosmetic issue for many people. If you have dark circles or bags beneath your eyes, lifestyle adjustments, OTC treatments, and dermatological procedures may help. 

A Word From Verywell

Dark circles under the eyes are not dangerous, but they can impact your quality of life. If you’re bothered by your dark circles, make sure you’re taking care of yourself, including getting a good night’s rest. If the dark circles persist, talk to your healthcare provider about treatment options that might work for you. But remember, there’s no surefire way to get rid of dark circles under the eyes entirely. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What causes dark circles under the eyes?

    Dark circles are often caused by genetics that predisposes a person to thin skin or blood vessels close to the surface. They can also be brought on by fatigue, allergies, smoking, and aging.

  • How can I get rid of dark circles under the eyes?

    First, make sure you’re getting enough sleep and keeping stress levels low. Use an OTC eye cream. If that doesn’t work, talk to your healthcare provider about cosmetic procedures, including fillers or laser treatment.

  • What do dark circles under eyes look like?

    Dark circles under the eyes are often a few shades of deeper pigment than the surrounding skin. They may be puffy and inflamed or sagging.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Park KY, Kwon HJ, Youn CS, Seo SJ, Kim MN. Treatments of infra-orbital dark circles by various etiologies. Ann Dermatol. 2018;30(5):522-528. doi: 10.5021/ad.2018.30.5.522

  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. How to get rid of bags under your eyes.

  3. Live Science. Why do people get ‘bags under their eyes’?.

  4. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Bags under the eyes.

  5. Ahmadraji F, Shatalebi MA. Evaluation of the clinical efficacy and safety of an eye counter pad containing caffeine and vitamin K in emulsified Emu oil base. Adv Biomed Res. 2015;4:10. doi: 10.4103/2277-9175.148292

By Kelly Burch
Kelly Burch is has written about health topics for more than a decade. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more.