Do you ever feel anxious about waking up with a tired face, sunken eyes and dark circles under your eyes? Those patches of discoloured skin – called dark circles – may seem harmless but can affect you psychologically.
Causes for dark circles
“Whenever the hemoglobin level decreases from an expected level, tissues in the body decrease their function. The fine fibres below the eyelids are commonly affected as they require more oxygen. Mild to moderate anemia eventually results in dark circles,” says Dr Rajeshwari M, ophthalmologist from Dr Agarwal’s eye hospital, Chennai.
Long-term direct exposure to the sun produces more melanin in the skin. Increased melanin deposits along with decreased blood flow result in the darkening of the skin around the eyes. However, its amount varies depending on the physical and mental stress that the individual is undergoing.
Vanitha P, a 42-year-old IT employee from Coimbatore, says that the dark circles under her eyes became apparent from prolonged use of the laptop at work. Repetitive use of laptops can be stressful to the eyes because of the emission of harmful blue light.
A 2018 study published in Pigment International, the official publication of Pigment Disorders Society, found that inadequate rest for the eyes due to watching television or using the mobile for prolonged hours and sleeping less than six hours a day aggravates dark circles. The exhausted eye muscles play an important role in the development of dark circles.
The toxins present in tobacco smoke damages the delicate tissue around the eyes. It also causes the destruction of tiny blood vessels, which eventually leads to the formation of dark circles.
Managing dark circles through integrated medicine
Dr K Anbarasan, siddha specialist from Maruthi Siddha Clinic, Coimbatore, advises the following to overcome dark circles:
- Ziziphus (Indian jujube), a seasonal fruit which contains Vitamin A, B1, B2 and C and multiple minerals like iron and phosphorus. It is specifically used in the management of dark circles because it helps in the removal of dead skin cells and formation of new skin cells. Apart from keeping the eyes cool, it also helps in digestion.
- Ginger tea, lemon tea, amla juice, lemon juice, and papaya often help to prevent blood stasis and increase blood flow in our body. They contain vitamins A, B and C, which help in collagen production and eventually reduce dark circles.
- Applying tomato juice twice a day for 25 to 30 days helps to reduce dark circles. Allow it to dry for 5 to 10 minutes and wash. It prevents premature ageing due to lack of sleep, and long-term direct sun exposure.
- Applying grated cucumber once in the evening for 20-25 days reduces dark circles under the eyes in people who have quit smoking but have dark circles due to tobacco smoke. Wash it after 10 to 15 minutes.
- Potato juice acts as a coolant; it helps in increased blood circulation around the eyes. Apply it on the face once daily for a month. Allow it to dry for 10 to 15 minutes and wash it. The ingredient present in the potato stimulates serotonin release and induces sleep. Hence, it can be used by individuals who lack sleep because of stress.
- Applying curd mixed with turmeric once a month helps in reducing the dark circles slowly due to its antioxidant property. Apply near your eyes and then wash your face after 10 minutes. The fat present in curd combines with turmeric and gets easily absorbed by the dermal and epidermal layers of the skin.
Kalaikeerthi J, acupuncture therapist from Pollachi, Tamil Nadu, says, “The mind and body are dependent on each other. Any mental strain due to lack of sleep shows symptoms like dark circles and tiredness. Eye washing exercise keeps the eyes relaxed.”
A wide bowl filled with pure water from a pot or borewell can be used. Keep the bowl in front of you at the height of your hips. Put out your tongue, and bend towards the bowl slowly as you breathe in. Water should be at the level of the forehead to the chin. The eyes, nose, and mouth should be inside the water for three to five seconds, but not necessarily the ears. Relax after five seconds and bring the tongue to the resting position.
She adds, “Gazing exercise from Chinese traditional approach helps in regaining energy in the eyes. Facing the reflected sunlight early in the morning for 10 minutes helps in rejuvenating the nerves of the eyes. For relaxing the eyes, gaze in complete darkness for 10 minutes. It increases the blood flow around the eyes and improves the sight.”