When you’re tired or suffering from an allergy attack, you might notice that underneath your eyes looks dark and puffy. This is not a fun look for anyone, and it might also cause discomfort. It’s normal to have questions about what’s going on when your eyes look dark and puffy. Here’s the lowdown on dark under eyes, why they occur, and what you can do about them.


If your dark circles are swollen, you might describe them as “bags” under your eyes. Most of the time, this is just a cosmetic problem caused by not getting enough sleep or overindulging in alcohol the night before.

Sometimes, however, these bags and puffiness can be caused by allergies, particularly if they are dark like a bruise. Your nose and sinuses might feel congested and you might have a sore throat or post-nasal drip. Often, this condition is caused by extra pollen or mold in the air or an allergy to dust, or an indoor pet.

If your dark circles are accompanied by sinus issues, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor to try to determine what you’re allergic to as well as to figure out a plan of attack. There are many antihistamines and decongestants available; you just need to talk to your doctor to find out which is the best one for you to take.


This is another common issue that might accompany dark under eyes or show up on its own. Again, allergies might be the issue, particularly if the condition is severe and causes discomfort. You could also have eczema or another skin condition. If cool water compresses and eye cream don’t help or if you feel a lot of discomfort, then you should make an appointment with your doctor.


First, make sure that you’re protecting the area from the sun by using sunglasses or a wide-brimmed hat and by keeping the area well-hydrated. You can hydrate internally (by drinking plenty of water) as well as externally (by applying a hydrating eye cream).

A simple home remedy is to drink some coffee or another caffeine-containing beverage as long as it is safe for you to do so. Caffeine can help shrink down the blood vessels in the area and can temporarily suppress the appearance of dark circles caused by dilated blood vessels.

Chemical peels, retinoids, and other procedures can provide a more long-lasting treatment if you have dark circles caused by dilated blood vessels. These are done by a clinician or dermatologist.

If you have puffy bags under your eyes that you’d like to get rid of, blepharoplasty is a surgical procedure that can help. This is usually done by a cosmetic surgeon and can make you look younger and more alert.

Finally, if you have allergies, getting those under control can help minimize your dark circles. Your doctor can tell you what type of medicine is best for you. You can also try strategies like keeping pets out of your bedroom, sleeping in a room with hard floors (as opposed to carpeting), washing your hair before you go to bed, and changing your pillowcase more frequently.


Preventing circles under your eyes is not always possible. Sometimes they are simply caused by genetics or the aging process. For those caused by lifestyle factors, however, here are some ways you can prevent them:

Protect your skin from the sun. Wear sunglasses, apply sunscreen, or wear a wide-brimmed hat to reduce the damage caused by the sun’s rays.

Get plenty of sleep. This might be easier said than done, but getting plenty of shuteye gives your body the time it needs to move excess fluid out from under your eyes and can keep you from rubbing your eyes, which can make dark circles worse. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Observing good sleep hygiene (such as sleeping in a cool room and keeping electronics out of the bedroom when possible) can help you fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep through the night.

Cut down on or quit smoking and drinking alcohol. Both of these substances can dilate the blood vessels around your eyes, causing or exacerbating dark circles. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about effective ways to quit. If you drink alcohol, stick to moderate amounts. Or if you find that that is too difficult, again, talk to your doctor about ways to cut back or stop.

Stay hydrated, but no need to over-hydrate. Many people think that undereye circles are due to dehydration. This can be the case. But if you are well-hydrated already, then you don’t need to keep hydrating. It won’t help once you’ve achieved the right balance of fluids in your system. Still, most people should be drinking about eight cups of water per day, so aim for that.


Dark under eyes can be frustrating, but know that they are usually only of cosmetic concern.

You would know if there was something more serious going on by other symptoms you might have: If you are having a lot of itchiness, dryness, or nasal or sinus congestion, then those are signs that something else might be going on and you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.

You can try home remedies or see a physician or clinician for various skin treatments; in some cases, you might be referred to a cosmetic surgeon. And, of course, there is always the possibility of wearing makeup to disguise or hide bags under your eyes. With any luck, this condition will be temporary. You will be back on your way to looking and feeling your best once you figure out the reason for the dark circles. Just take the steps necessary to lighten them up and relieve any swelling.

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