There is no treatment to make dark circles disappear. But preventive treatments can help. Ageing thins the skin and allows the blood vessels and darker shadows of bone to show through. Weakening of collagen and elastic fibres with age also makes the skin loser. Smoking causes blood vessels to become more blue and prominent beneath the skin, adding to dark circles. Lack of sleep and tiredness reduces the blood flow in the area leading to tired eyes.
To reduce puffiness and increase oxygenated blood in the area, apply cool tea bags, ice cube wrapped in soft cloth or cucumber slices to your eyes every day for 10-15 minutes. Washing the face with cool water followed by a gentle massage of the skin around eyes also works. Massage by moving fingertips in one direction only, from the inside of eye to outside both on upper eyelid and under eye area. Do not apply pressure. Massage both eyes five to 10 times before going to bed using an eye-cream or body oil.
The skin gets optimal blood supply while you sleep so any cream applied at bedtime is absorbed better. For dark circles, use a cream with alpha-hydroxy acids that also lighten skin colour. Other ingredients to look for are kojic acid, vitamin K and retinols, but they have to be used continuously for a few months for the effect to show.
A popular remedy called preparation H is actually a haemorrhoid cream. While it decreases swelling around eyes, it does nothing to reduce dark circles. It should not be used as it can irritate the sensitive skin around the eyes.
Lasers are being used to treat under-eyes circles. While Nd-ag laser reduces discoloration, it can cause bruising and swelling. Get treated at a clinic under the care of a dermatologist and not at a beauty parlour.
Mix one teaspoon of yogurt with one teaspoon of honey. Apply the concoction over closed eyes for 15 minutes once a week before washing off. This with restful sleep and a sufficient water intake will clear dark circles in no time.
Dr Agarwal is a senior consultant dermatologist and the director of Mehak Skin Clinic in Sarvodaya Enclave.