Dark Circles Under the Eyes: Causes and Solutions

Many people consider dark circles under the eyes to merely be a cosmetic problem that is easily concealed 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. Dark circles can also be hereditary to some extent.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 Dark Circles Under the Eyeand 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 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.
  • 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. 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, I can say that dark circles under the eyes often accompany kidney issues.
    I can share a personal story related to this … when I started using electrodermal screening (EDS) in my practice, my husband volunteered to be a test subject. His kidneys tested poorly, so I recommended a kidney support supplement. Within a few months, the dark circles under his eyes began to disappear to the point that people commented on it. The transformation was amazing. The supplement I recommended and which tested very positively for him on the EDS unit was Premier Research Lab’s Kidney Complex. (Click the link to view it.) It’s one of my favorite combinations for kidney support.
  • Food Allergies & Other Allergies: More than one mom has seen that food allergies cause dark circles under the eyes. This effect is known as “allergy shiners” in food allergy circles. 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 the purple tint. 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 are our “flight or fight” glands. Because we live under 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. I intend to write much more about this syndrome in future posts. I apologize I can’t adequately address it in a single paragraph.
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. Work with someone to identify the cause of your dark circles, and then take measures to reduce them.

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Dr. Pamela Reilly is a Naturopathic Physician dedicated to helping people improve their health and eliminate symptoms using natural, integrative methods. She has over 25 years of experience and has helped men, women and children improve their health using a holistic, client-centered focus. She sees clients in Indianapolis, does house calls, and also conducts consultations via Skype or telephone. Please feel free to contact her or visit her Consultations page for more information. Dr. Pamela speaks nationwide on a wide variety of health topics and welcomes speaking invitations.

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15 Responses to Dark Circles Under the Eyes: Causes and Solutions

  1. traci says:

    How to schedule consolation? I’ve looked like 2 black eyes since birth super bad after I got into teens… i can’t leave without makeup..so swimming. No relaxing no makeup Netflix nights fofor me lol

  2. Sabrina says:

    Hello, I started taking liquid iron for three months from the health food store and noticed my dark circles started to fade why did this happen? Is it because I have an iron deficiency ?

  3. L.C.C. Davis says:

    I’ve had these dark circles since childhood, and everytime my mother asked a pediatrician what it was…they simply told her I needed to drink more water and get more sleep. Even in doing so, there is no improvement. It wasn’t until the age of about 26, that I met 2 people with this same issue with the same severity. I’ve gone to numerous Allergists and Dermatologists as an adult only to be told there is nothing that can be done about these. But at least it now has a name, “allergic shiners”. And I now know why people would ALWAYS ask if I’m feeling ok…they thought I looked sick. I’ve been covering them with make-up which can only go so far. I do have hayfever (diagnosed as of 2003), and asthma since birth. I have even tried a lightening cream, as a teen, for my circles (to no avail). I’ve even been told by doctors that no surgery can fix these either. I am simply starting to think that it could be a vitamin deficiency, but I’ll need luck trying to figure this whole thing out as doctors have just been suggesting the same things that don’t work.

    • GWWR says:

      I’m so sorry to hear you’ve had such a struggle. My recommendation is to find a doctor who will do a blood test for food allergies. (Most allergists do not use those tests, in spite of thei effectiveness.) Identifying your food allergies will go a long way toward eliminating the “shiners.” I wish you well!

  4. […] confirm subnormal adrenal function and nutritional deficiencies that may cause it. (Please read, Dark Circles Under the Eyes, Causes and Solutions for more info on some of the facial indicators of adrenal fatigue.) Adrenal fatigue can be […]

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  6. bitt says:

    so true about adrenal fatigue! and it could be a combo of the above…very helpful

  7. Get RsL says:

    Most people don't know about adrenal fatigue. I think your article will shed some light on many reasons why people aren't sleeping, are exhausted and have dark circles. I look forward to it

  8. Anonymous says:

    How about a magnesium deficiency ?

  9. Pamela Reilly, Naturopath, CNHP, CNC, CPH says:

    Thanks, Faye. I wish you luck!

  10. Faye-Dark circles under eyes says:

    Glad to read something like this. Indeed you help a lot by sharing your tips. You put smile on my fave. Thanks

    • Niki says:

      Want to know in detail about dark circles, how to get proper treatmeant, or any procedure, which helps to get rid from dark cricles,

      • Hi, Niki. Since there are multiple causes of dark circles, the approach to reversing them is different based on the root cause. If you’d like to schedule a consultation, please feel free to let me know. Thanks!

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