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What the Yuck: Why do I have dark circles under my eyes?
March 4th, 2011
09:32 AM ET

What the Yuck: Why do I have dark circles under my eyes?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: I don't have a problem sleeping, so why do I have such dark circles under my eyes?

A few culprits may have you reaching for the under-eye concealer. Sinus blockage triggered by a food or seasonal allergy can cause swelling of the tiny blood vessels near the surface of the skin, giving you "darkened" areas around your nose and eyes. An allergist can determine an allergy trigger, but if yours is seasonal or the irritant is unavoidable, an OTC drug like Claritin or Zyrtec should help.

How's your diet? A vitamin deficiency may also cause circles. Take a daily multi if you don't already, and add a night cream or facial mask containing vitamins K and A (aka retinol) to your regimen.

Of course, your genes may also be to blame. Some women have a genetic predisposition to excessive pigmentation in the area. Laser surgery—which resurfaces the skin and destroys the highly pigmented cells—is a solution, but it doesn't come cheap (it costs thousands of dollars) or easy (expect a lengthy recovery period). Cosmetic-filler injections like Juvéderm or Restylane are a popular alternative (they fill in the sunken areas that cause shadowing), again for a pretty penny—$500 to $800 per treatment, which lasts only about six months.

But before you break the bank, try simply squeezing in even a half-hour extra of sleep because fatigue can dull your skin and make any discoloration more visible. Even if you don't have a sleep problem per se, your body may just need a little more rest than you're currently giving it.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.