Dark circles, also called shadows or dark rings, are characterized by darkened skin between the lower eyelids and the cheekbones. Most people attribute dark circles to the lack of sleep or tiredness, but the trust is, even though those causes are quite common, other, more serious factor may also be at play.
Depending on the exact cause, dark circles around the eyes may develop quickly and go away soon, or they may become a chronic problem. Like any chronic issue, dark circles that appear frequently and do not seem to go away fast may be a cause for concern and require medical evaluation, especially if they are combined with other symptoms.
Dark circles and other symptoms
Discoloration under and around the eyes sometimes comes together with other symptoms, in which case it probably indicates an underlying condition that needs to be assessed.
Those other symptoms may include anxiety, irritability or depression due to insomnia, atopic dermatitis due to allergies, bags under the eyes or puffy eyes due to water retention, facial pain or pressure and headache due to sinus infections, rash and hives, nasal congestion and sneezing due to allergies.
These underlying conditions are easily managed and are not considered serious, but there are also others, more serious, but also relatively less common, such as head injury, periorbital or orbital cellulitis and anaphylactic shock.
It is recommended to see a doctor if dark circles around eyes are combined with bleeding, swelling or deformity of the nose, redness and bruises around the eyes and eyelids, fainting, confusion, behavioral changes, delirium, seizures, lethargy, delusions, swelling of the throat and mouth, high fever, difficulty breathing, rapid pulse and breathing and severe headache.
Causes of dark circles around eyes
The potential causes of dark circles around eyes can be roughly divided into traumatic causes and lifestyle or general causes.
Traumatic causes involve an injury to the face, nose and eyes, such as a punch or a blow in the face, a traffic accident and such. Surgery, especially if it involves eyes and nose, also causes dark circles and counts as traumatic cause.
As for the lifestyle and general causes, they may involve aging, excessive consumption of beverages containing caffeine, drug abuse, too much salt in the diet, which leads to fluid retention and swelling, insufficient intake of fluids leading to dehydration, lack of sleep or insomnia, crying, stress, smoking, exposure to sunlight, birth control pills and other medications and hereditary factors.