We’ve all battled them–those dark circles under the eyes that make us wish concealer were as thick as concrete. The problem with dark circles is that they are not merely a cosmetic problem that is easily hidden using makeup. The truth is that most cosmetic issues have a physiological cause. Dark circles are no different. There are many different potential causes for dark circles. Some are easy to address and correct; others take a longer effort.
If you have extremely dark circles under your eyes consistently, please see your practitioner. The information that follows will help you know which blood tests to request and which body systems to discuss with your practitioner. Please note that the following information does not apply to anyone receiving chemotherapy or other extreme drug therapies, as these therapies themselves may cause dark circles under the eyes. As always, this information was not evaluated by the FDA, is shared for educational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or health condition.
Potential Causes of Dark Circles Under the Eyes
- Lack of Sleep: Women who complain about dark circles often say they only sleep 4-5 hours per night. Deep sleep allows your skin to heal. Lack of sleep may interrupt this healing and cause skin to sag. Lack of sleep also makes us more pale, which makes the blood vessels under the skin more visible and makes the skin under the eyes look purple. If you have consistent trouble sleeping or have insomnia, please ask your health practitioner for assistance identifying the cause. Although insomnia may be caused by emotional issues, there are also many physical issues that can negatively impact sleep, including: blood sugar fluctuations, nutritional deficiencies, imbalances in neurotransmitters in the brain, hormonal imbalances, thyroid or adrenal issues, and many other physiological causes. You must determine the cause of insomnia in order to address the issue. Using a sleep aid will obviously help on a short-term basis, but identifying and addressing the cause will bring much greater relief.
- Anemia: An iron deficiency (aka: anemia) can definitely contribute to dark circles under the eyes. The truth is that many nutritional deficiencies can cause dark circles under the eyes. Most doctors base their evaluation of anemia purely on a CBC. If you suspect you have undiagnosed anemia, ask your doctor to order a Ferritin test and an Iron Saturation test. Each of these will provide more insight into your body’s true iron levels. Eating a healthy diet is key to preventing and eliminating dark circles. For tips on how to improve absorption, please read my blog post, The Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion.
- Kidney Issues: Chinese medicine attributes dark circles under the eyes to any deficiency or challenge in kidney function. Although dark circles under the eyes can’t be used to diagnose kidney issues, dark circles under the eyes often accompany kidney issues. I can share a personal story related to this. My husband has always had extremely dark circles under his eyes that extended lower than most people’s dark circles. While practicing with my Electrodermal Screening (EDS) unit, my husband volunteered to be a test subject. His kidneys showed a strong degree of poor function (even though he had no physical symptoms), so I put him on a kidney support supplement that works very well for most people. Within a few months, the dark circles under his eyes began to disappear to the point that people noticed it and commented on it. In time, he was able to completely eliminate his dark circles. It was amazing!
- Food and Environmental Allergies: More than one mom has seen that food allergies cause dark circles under the eyes. This effect is known as “allergy shiners.” Seasonal and environmental allergies can also cause dark circles under the eyes. The basic effect is that the allergy causes congestion which creates increased blood flow to the nose. Because the skin under the eyes is somewhat thin, the increased blood flow creates a purple tint created by the increased blood flow. The congestion caused by allergies can also cause enlarged blood vessels around the eyes and cause the dark tint. Many people with allergies sleep poorly and have adrenal fatigue, both of which can also contribute to dark circles under the eyes.
- Adrenal Fatigue: Dark circles under the eyes are a primary indicator of adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands are tiny glands located on top of the kidneys that produce a multitude of hormones. The adrenals control the balance of electrolytes in our system, control metabolism, and control the production of many sexual hormones. Having adrenal fatigue can negatively impact every body system. The adrenals are also our “flight or fight” glands and respond to stress by excreting hormones. Because we live in a world that creates constant excess stress, many of us have adrenal glands that have become fatigued. Dark circles under the eyes, fatigue, poor sleep, weight gain and many other symptoms may be indicators of adrenal fatigue. Most mainstream practitioners don’t acknowledge that adrenal fatigue exists, but it is a very real condition that negatively impacts many people’s lives. I find that women have adrenal fatigue more frequently than men. If interested in learning more about adrenal fatigue, I highly recommend the book “Adrenal Fatigue: 21st Century Stress Syndrome.”
If you have dark circle under the eyes, try to get more rest, drink more water, eat a healthier diet, and know you’re not alone.