Infraorbital dark circles are generally not a cause of medical concern; however, they are aesthetically unpleasing for many individuals, particularly for women, and can occur across all age brackets.


Their aetiology is complex and multi-factorial, and there are numerous intrinsic and extrinsic factors associated with their occurrence. Visually, dark circles are characterized by differences in colour between the palpebral and surrounding areas of facial skin. The colour of the palpebral skin is strongly associated with intrinsic factors, such as an individual’s ethnic origin and genetics, including the amount and quality of melanin pigment in the skin.

Triggering Factors

Dark circles are most often associated with

  • Tiredness
  • Sleep Deprivation and
  • Fatigue

However, there are numerous other extrinsic and lifestyle-related triggers, including

  • Illness
  • Infections
  • Atopy and Allergies
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Chronic irritation of the eye area
  • Eye strain
  • Exposure to UV light
  • Dehydration
  • Poor nutrition
  • Vitamin Deficiency
  • Excessive Alcohol Consumption & Smoking
  • Certain medicines, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and chemotherapy drugs
  • The anatomy of the eye area is complex and can also be a contributory factor


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For example, there is minimal infraorbital subcutaneous fat and the area is prone to blood stasis and oedema. In addition, the eye-lids have the thinnest skin of the face, and the bone structure and contour of the eye socket can lead to shadowing effects around the eye.