Why do we have dark circles under eyes when we lack sleep?

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Why do we have dark circles under eyes when we lack sleep?

In: Biology

Fatigue

Oversleeping, extreme fatigue, or just staying up a few hours past your normal bedtime can cause dark circles to form under your eyes. Sleep deprivation can cause your skin to become dull and pale, allowing for dark tissues and blood vessels beneath your skin to show.

Lack of sleep can also cause fluid to build underneath your eyes, causing them to appear puffy. As a result, the dark circles you see may actually be shadows cast by your puffy eyelids.

Age

Natural aging is another common cause of those dark circles beneath your eyes. As you get older, your skin becomes thinner. You also lose the fat and collagen needed to maintain your skin’s elasticity. As this occurs, the dark blood vessels beneath your skin become more visible causing the area below your eyes to darken.

Eye strain

Staring at your television or computer screen can cause significant strain on your eyes. This strain can cause blood vessels around your eyes to enlarge. As a result, the skin surrounding your eyes can darken.

Allergies

Allergic reactions and eye dryness can trigger dark circles. When you have an allergic reaction, your body release histamines as a response to harmful bacteria. Other than causing uncomfortable symptoms — including itchiness, redness, and puffy eyes — histamines also cause your blood vessels to dilate and become more visible beneath your skin.

Allergies can also increase your urge to rub and scratch the itchy skin around your eyes. These actions can worsen your symptoms, causing inflammation, swelling, and broken blood vessels. This can result in dark shadows beneath your eyes.

Dehydration

Dehydration is a common cause of dark circles under your eyes. When your body is not receiving the proper amount of water, the skin beneath your eyes begins to look dull and your eyes look sunken. This is due to their close proximity to the underlying bone.

Sun overexposure

Overexposure to the sun can cause your body to produce an excess of melanin, the pigment that provides your skin with color. Too much sun — particularly for your eyes — can cause pigmentation in the surrounding skin to darken.

Genetics

Family history also plays a part in developing dark circles under your eyes. It can be an inherited trait seen early in childhood, and may worsen as you age or slowly disappear. Predispositions to other medical conditions — such as thyroid disease — can also result in dark circles beneath your eyes.