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Puffiness or skin discoloration under the eyes affects just about everybody at some time or another. For some of us, however, these “bags” or “dark circles” are a near-constant bother. While these conditions are occasionally symptomatic of other illnesses, the usual cause is allergies, tiredness, or, unfortunately, heredity.
Establish whether or not this condition runs in the family. Dark circles in particular are believed to frequently be hereditary. This doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything about the conditions, but you should be prepared for minimal success actually trying to get rid of them. Dark circles under the eye may also, in fact, be light carbon deposits that result from incomplete protein digestion. Incomplete protein digestion may result from insufficient hydrochloric acid in your stomach that may be caused from a lack of primarily B6 and Folic Acid. About 30% of the population does not absorb regular B6 (pydroxine) or folic acid and need to take in these vitamins in a different form or another way.
Identify allergens. Allergies may be the most common cause of skin discoloration and puffiness under the eyes. If allergies are the root of your problem, you simply need to treat them or remove the allergen (i.e., the thing to which you are allergic). Seasonal allergy problems such as the hay fever can frequently be effectively treated with over-the-counter and prescription medications. For other allergies the best course of action is usually avoidance. If your dark circles or puffiness are constant, you may have an undetected food allergy or an allergy to a chemical in your home or workplace. Talk to a dermatologist for help determining what you may be allergic to. People with allergies also tend again to be deficient in B6, folic acid and B12 on occasion. Taking a multivitamin, if you don't already, may help with your allergies as well as black circles.
Bloodshot EyeGet plenty of sleep nightly. It’s not entirely clear why inadequate sleep results in dark circles under the eyes, but we’ve all seen it happen either to ourselves or someone we know. For one thing, lack of sleep tends to cause the skin to become paler (thus increasing the appearance of darkness under the eyes), and it reduces circulation. It’s also believed that too little time lying down is a cause in itself. Determine how much sleep you need (it’s usually 7-9 hours per night, but varies throughout different people) and try to get that amount regularly for a couple of weeks to see if that helps. Remember that alcohol and drugs can adversely affect the quality of your sleep; abstain from these products or use only in moderation for best results. A lack of sleep, coupled with poor vitamin absorption also tends to reduce adrenal function. The less adrenal function you have the less B6 you tend to absorb, the less B6 you absorb, the less well your adrenal glands work and alas you end up in a vicious circle. Sleep, regular vitamins for those that need them, and good calcium/magnesium support in the form of milk or good mineral supplement restores adrenal function. So if you want to break the cycle and the black circles under your eyes, you've got to reduce your stress, sleep more and take the proper vitamins and minerals to support the adrenal function in general.
Treat your skin while you sleep. There are overnight facial masques available that may help reduce the appearance of puffiness or discoloration, but you can also make your own. Just before you go to bed, take a washcloth and wet it just a bit with cold water. Then squeeze out any excess water and place it over your eyes as you sleep. Treating your skin may help, but the real problem may also be that you have a poor vitamin and mineral absorption problem that must also be corrected. Seeing a naturopathic physician may help for those people who suffer other ailments such as miscellaneous aches and pains that come and go and a general run down feeling.
Cucumber TherapyApply cool tea bags, an ice cube wrapped in soft cloth, or cucumber slices to your eyes daily. The tannin in tea bags has been shown to reduce swelling and discoloration, and cucumber slices have long been used to reduce puffiness and refresh the appearance of skin around the eyes. Lie down, preferably in the morning, and leave fresh cucumber slices or cool, damp caffeinated tea bags (you can refrigerate them overnight so they’ll be ready) over your eyes for about 10-15 minutes. Keep your eyes closed.
Wash your face with cool to somewhat cold water in the morning or when puffiness occurs. The cold water will cause blood vessels to constrict, and thus reduces swelling.
Try to relax the space. You can do this by wetting a cotton swab and then freezing it for a little while. Then you should gently wipe under your eyes in the areas where the circles are occurring. When wiping, close your eyes and try not to flinch.
Apply an eye cream containing vitamin K and retinol. Dark circles may be caused by a deficiency of vitamin K. Regardless of the cause, however, recent research has shown that skin creams containing these two ingredients reduce puffiness and discoloration significantly in many patients. Long-term daily use seems to have the greatest effect.
Avoid rubbing your eyes. Usually rubbing of the eyes is brought on by allergies, but not always. Regardless of the reason, stop doing it. The rubbing irritates the skin and can break tiny capillaries beneath the skin, causing both puffiness and discoloration.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet and drink plenty of water. A whole host of cosmetic problems can be attributed to vitamin deficiencies. Dark circles and puffiness are often attributed to lack of vitamin K or inadequate antioxidants. Be sure to get plenty of fruits and vegetables—especially cabbage, spinach, and other leafy green vegetables—and take a daily vitamin supplement if necessary. Get adequate fluids to improve circulation.
Reduce salt intake. Excess salt causes the body to retain water in unusual places, and this can result in puffiness under the eyes. Too much salt can also impair your circulation, and cause the blood vessels under the skin to appear bluer.
Quit smoking. Smoking causes vascular (blood vessel) problems that can not only threaten your life, but also make your blood vessels appear more prominent and bluer beneath the skin.
Cover the problem up with cosmetics. If all else fails, use a yellow or flesh-toned color which will camouflage the problem under your eyes.
Dr Anrich Burger
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