Understanding The Curse Of The Raccoon-Eyes

A typical slang in Shakespearean era was “Blue eyed Hag” meaning an ugly evil looking lady withdark circle underhereyes.Today a century or so later the reference steadily stands strong as people of all ages irrespective of sex or ethnicity still dread dark circles that detract their outlook and make them look aged and fatigued.


In the recent years, the drumbeat against under-eye circles has grown louder. If I look at the statistics from my clinic based in Jeddah, panda-eyes is one of the most common reasons for a visit to the dermatologist’s office. Everyone wants to know, how to banish the curse of the dark circles? So, lets delve right into the nitty-gritty of raccoon-eyes and find out what are the background causes and latest remedies in your doctor’s bag of aesthetic tricks.


Taming Dark Circles Is Tricky — We Must Sift Through The Underlying Common Causes:


I. Allergies & Atopic dermatitis cause inflammation, which ensues rubbing or scratching, which in turn causes the skin to develop increased pigmentation, leading up to pesky dark halos.

II. Fatigue & Shortage Of Sleep, dehydration and long hours glued to the T.V or laptops can also cast murky shadows around the eyes.

III. Heredity Factor: Dark under-eye circles can run in families. Some families have a particular bony structure of the skull into which eyes are set deeply. This scull shape can make you prone to shadowy peeper facade.

IV. Hormonal Imbalances associated with menstruation, pregnancy or menopause can also cause peri-orbital sinister circles.

V. Lifestyle Factors such as physical or emotional stress, smoking, drinking, long hours in front of electronic screens, or staying up late nights can take a toll on your eyes causing dim halos.

VI. Medications e.g. oral contraceptives can cause blood vessels dilatation commissioning dark circles.

  1. Sinus Problems and nasal congestion dilates and darkens the veins that drain from your eyes to your nose causing under eye congestion.
  2. Pigmentation Irregularities are a particular concern for people of color, especially people of African, East Indian, Middle-Eastern or Latin descent.

IX. Nutrient Deficiencies vitamins (A, C, E and K), minerals, and trace elements (Potassium, Calcium, & Magnesium) deficiencies can present as threatening discoloration around eyes.

X. Sun exposure increases the pigmentation level in the skin and can cause darkening of under eye skin tone. Beach bunnies please note — sun exposure exacerbates dark circles. With age pigmentation problem also gets more pronounced.

XI. Thinning Skin and Loss Of Fat & Collagen are common as you age, it can make the reddish-blue blood vessels under your eyes more obvious thus, causing dark hue around eyes. The skin under the eyes also turns dark as we advance in age.


Putting ‘You-Look-Tired’ to Rest -Treatment Options & Remedies:


Keeping all the causative factors in mind we need to address four basic factors in order to banish the under eye sinister circles for good.


1) Treat the underlying medical reason e.g. allergies, atopic dermatitis, sinus problems, hormonal imbalance, life style aberrations, nutritional deficiencies and stop the culprit medications

2) Address pigmentation problems

3) Deal with blood vessels and circulation issues

4) Work on the skin thinning and subcutaneous volume loss

Nipping The Dark-Circle In The Bud — Treatment Rationale:

1) Digging Deeper — Treating The Underlying Medical Causes:


If the problem is persistent and getting worst by the day, it’s always wise to see a dermatologist. Get a proper check up with lab tests and if any underlying medical reasons are found, get them treated. For allergies, treatment may be as simple as an antihistamine pill. Stop the culprit medications such asbirth controlpills, which can dilate blood vessels resulting in squids-under-the-eyes.


2) Dark No More — Addressing Pigmentation Problems:

  • Skin lightening creams with hydroquinone are commonly used to treat under-eye circles. Kojic acid, vitamin C and arbutin based creams also brighten hyper-pigmented skin fading the dark circles. But, always keep in mind research has proven that creams, lotions and potions can only help to a very minor degree (5-10% max with 3-6 months of application).
  • Doing a chemical or a laser peels can help in clearing-up the dark skin.


3) Leaking Pipes — Dealing With The blood Vessels & Circulation Issues

Dark circles around the eyes are sometimes caused by weak capillaries; small blood vessels that web the skin around the eyes. When the capillaries are weak the red blood cells leak out. These leaked out blood cells under the skin, cause a bruised look around the eyes. Serious causes of weakness can result from vitamin C or K deficiency and/or high blood pressure.

  • Daily intake of calcium and magnesium supplements with vitamin C & K helps to alleviate the deficiencies. Always take vitamin C with Calcium, and magnesium as they help the body to absorb a maximum amount of vitamin C.
  • Creams with vitamin C & K also help in alleviating the problem.


Get your blood pressure checked. The rapid blood flow can cause the weak capillaries to rupture and cause bruising of skin. If you have hypertension, take steps to lower it:

  • Reduce salt and sugar intake.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Include garlic and ginger in your diet as they reduce high blood pressure.
  • According to research Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium supplementation improves blood pressure and indirectly dark circles around the eyes.
  • Laser treatments to close the abnormal blood vessels help stop the leakage and bruising thus gives long term clear-under-eyes.


4) Reupholstering — Working On The Skin Thinning & Subcutaneous Volume Loss:


  • Peptides, Vitamin C and A based products help boost collagen production in the skin and improve the thin skin around the eye thus, assuaging the problem to some extent.
  • Hyaluronic acid fillers or micro fat transplants can fix the volume loss and make the area look smooth fixing dark shadows. Fillers mimic a youthful look by correcting the contours of the eye socket. New research studies have shown that the fat cells have pluripotent stem cell which when injected into any area help to improve the overlying skin texture and thickness.

In some cases, a combination of treatments may be appropriate, especially if there are multiple factors playing culprit behind dark circles.



Meanwhile Camouflage!


To cosmetically camouflage dark under eye circles, use eye creams that contain light-diffusing particles. For darker circles, you’ll want to use a creamy concealer.

To apply concealer, first prep eye with an eye gel. Dot concealer over the blue veins or dark circles and tap, never rub, concealer into the area surrounding the eyes.

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Shazia Ali
A certified dermatologist, Skincare guru to the who's who of the Middle East, Dr. Shazia knows the secrets of anti-aging, the insider tips and tricks on how to achieve healthy, beautiful radiant skin and everything in between. Currently the brand Ambasador for University of Westminster, and the head Dermatologist at Tababa Clinics.

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