This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
Dark circles and bags under your eyes can be caused by many different factors. While some, such as genetics, are beyond your control, others are easily treatable. But no matter what's causing this skin issue, there are measures you can take to minimize the effects.
What's the difference between bags and dark circles?
Eye bags and dark circles can occur at the same time, but they're different conditions. Bags under the eyes are caused by fluid retention that causes swelling underneath the eyes, while dark circles are often caused by blood vessels that show through the skin. Both are cosmetic conditions that don't usually cause health problems, but there are steps you can take to reduce both eye bags and dark circles.
What causes eye bags?
Eye bags are caused when the skin under your eyes starts to sag due to the weakening of tissue structures and muscles that support your eyelids. When this happens, the fat that's normally stored around your eyes can migrate to the area beneath your eyes.
They can also be caused when the area under your eyes retains fluid, which makes it look puffy and swollen. Several conditions can make eye bags worse, including:
Lack of sleep
Family history of eye bags
Medical problems such as dermatitis, renal disease, thyroid eye disease and dermatomyositis
What causes dark circles?
Depending on your skin colour, dark circles may appear in shades of purple, blue, brown or black under your eyes. There are many reasons you may develop dark circles under the eyes, but most of them are not due to a medical problem. Aging is one of the most common causes of dark circles. Some other factors that may cause dark circles include:
Eczema and contact dermatitis, which can cause blood vessels to get bigger and show through the skin
Rubbing your eyes, which can cause the skin under your eyes to swell and the blood vessels to burst
Lack of sleep, which can cause the skin under your eyes to look pale so your blood vessels show through
Excessive alcohol use
Exposure to the sun
How to get rid of bags under your eyes
There are some methods you can use to get rid of bags under your eyes.
Limit salt in your diet
Excess sodium in your diet can cause fluid retention. Limiting the salt in your diet and fluid consumption at bedtime can reduce the amount of fluid that collects under your eyes.
A cool compress can help reduce eye bags. To apply one, wet a washcloth with cool water and apply it to the area around your eyes for several minutes. Use light pressure and apply the cool compress while you're sitting up. You can also use a chilled roller to apply pressure underneath your eyes.
In addition to being bad for your health, smoking can make the bags under your eyes worse.
Get enough rest
Many adults report not getting sufficient sleep. You should aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
Elevate your head
Sleeping with your head slightly elevated may keep fluid from accumulating under your eyes at night. Try using an extra pillow or raising the head of your bed several inches.
Allergies can cause eye bags. Avoid allergy triggers whenever possible. If non-prescription allergy medicines don't help, talk to your doctor about strategies to help prevent reactions.
You can use concealer to help minimize the look of your eye bags.
How to get rid of dark circles under your eyes
Some of the same remedies for under eye bags can also help with dark circles, and there are other remedies you can try, too.
In addition to using a cool washcloth, you can also try applying cold spoons to your eyes. This will help shrink dilated blood vessels and reduce puffy eyelids.
Cucumbers are full of vitamin C, which is beneficial for your skin. They also contain a lot of water. Applying cool cucumber slices to your eyes can be soothing and help reduce puffiness.
Tea contains antioxidants and caffeine. Caffeine shrinks the blood vessels in your skin, which reduces blood flow and makes your skin look brighter and smoother. The antioxidants in tea can also help prevent UV damage to your skin. Wet tea bags in cold water and apply them to the area around your eyes.
Massaging the area around your eyes can improve blood circulation and help reduce dark circles. Ask your esthetician about facials that help with dark circles under your eyes.
As with bags, you can use concealer to hide under eye circles. Look for concealers specifically designed for dark circles, not those designed to hide red spots. For best results, choose a shade that's one to two shades lighter than your natural skin colour.