Eye Health Central

Dark Circles and Bags Under Eyes: Symptoms and How to Get Rid of Eye Bags

Dark Circles and Bags Under Eyes: Symptoms and How to Get Rid of Eye Bags

Dark Circles and Bags Under Eyes: Symptoms and How to Get Rid of Eye Bags

Dark circles and bags under your eyes are fairly common cosmetic concerns that can make you look tired, older and less vibrant. While these can be a source of self-consciousness or maybe even embarrassment, understanding the underlying causes and finding effective remedies can help you reduce or potentially eliminate these issues altogether.

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the meaning of bags under your eyes, the signs of puffy eyes, plus the causes of dark circles and bags. We will also provide you with tips on how to get rid of eye bags and discuss whether dark under-eye circles are permanent or not.

What Do Bags Under Your Eyes Mean?

Bags essentially mean that you have mild swelling or puffiness in the tissues around your eyes. They become more prevalent the older you get as your skin ends up losing its elasticity and thus the supporting muscles and tissues end up weakening. This weakening allows fat to shift forward and pool under your eyes and hence the appearance of bags.

What Are Puffy Eyes a Sign of?

Puffy eyes are characterised by the swelling around your eyes which can be a sign of numerous factors including the following:

• Fluid retention: Consuming excessive amounts of salt, hormonal fluctuations your body may be going through and/or dehydration can lead to you retaining fluid resulting in puffy eyes.
• Allergies: Allergic reactions can actually cause inflammation and swelling around the eyes which leads to puffiness.
• A lack of sleep: Not sleeping enough can disrupt the balance of fluids in your body, hence contributing to eye puffiness.
• Aging: As you age the tissues and muscles around your eyes start to weaken, resulting in puffiness.

What Causes Dark Circles Around the Eyes?

Dark circles are essentially discoloration or shadows that appear beneath your eyes. Various factors that can be contributing to these issues include the following:

Genetics: Dark circles can unfortunately be hereditary with some individuals more genetically prone to having thinner or more transparent skin under the eyes compared to others.
• Aging: As your skin ages it becomes thinner due to the loss of collagen and fat which makes the blood vessels beneath your eyes more visible.
• Exposure to the sun: Excessive sun exposure can lead to an overproduction of melanin (the pigment responsible for your skin colour) resulting in dark circles under your eyes.
• Being deprived of sleep: A lack of sleep can cause your skin to appear more pale than usual, which in turn makes the blood vessels under your eyes more noticeable.
• The result of Allergies: Allergic reactions and rubbing your eyes frequently can lead to inflammation, broken blood vessels and dark circles forming under your eyes.

What Causes Bags Under Your Eyes?

Several factors that play a part in the development of bags under your eyes include the following:

• Aging: As mentioned above, the aging process causes the skin to lose elasticity and the supporting tissues to weaken.
• Retaining Fluid: As mentioned above, fluid retention can lead to the development of eye bags.
• Your usual sleeping position: Sleeping on your stomach or even your side can cause fluid to accumulate under your eyes, resulting in bags.
Smoking: Smoking can damage collagen and elastin, leading to sagging skin and bags forming under your eyes.

How to Get Rid of Bags Under Your Eyes?

There are several strategies you can undertake to try to reduce or potentially eliminate your eye bags. These include:

• Get adequate sleep: Ensure you get enough sleep each and every night to allow your body to properly regulate fluid levels and minimise eye puffiness.
• Elevate your head: With the help of pillows or a bed that can be tilted in terms of height, sleeping with your head slightly elevated can help prevent fluid accumulation under the eyes.
• Apply cold compresses: Cold compresses can help constrict blood vessels and reduce the swelling under your eyes.
• Reduce salt intake: By reducing your sodium consumption, it can help minimise any fluid retention and alleviate any eye bags you may have.
• Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water will help you maintain proper fluid balance in your system, preventing puffiness and bags under the eyes.
• Use a gentle eye cream: An eye cream containing retinol, peptides or hyaluronic acid can help improve your skin’s elasticity and reduce the appearance of eye bags.
• Limit sun exposure: Protect your skin from the sun by applying sunscreen and your eyes from the sun by wearing UV protective sunglasses to prevent damage and any formation of bags under your eyes.
• Quit smoking: Quitting smoking can help preserve collagen and elastin, resulting in an improvement of your skin’s elasticity and minimising eye bags.

Are Dark Under-Eye Circles Permanent?

Dark under-eye circles in most cases are not permanent. However, they can be persistent and tricky to treat depending on their underlying causes.

If your dark circles are currently being caused by factors like sleep deprivation, sun exposure or allergies, addressing these issues is quite easy and most likely will lead to a significant improvement in their appearance. However, if genetics or aging are the primary causes, your dark circles are less likely to fade completely. If this is indeed the case, then you can explore some of the following treatments to help minimise the appearance of your dark circles:

• Topical treatments: Over-the-counter creams containing ingredients like retinol, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and caffeine, can help improve your skin tone and texture, reducing the appearance of dark circles.
Chemical peels: A chemical peel can help exfoliate and rejuvenate the skin under your eyes, reducing the visibility of dark circles.
Laser therapy: Laser treatments can help stimulate collagen production, even out skin pigmentation and diminish the appearance of dark circles.
• Dermal fillers: Injectable fillers like hyaluronic acid can potentially help restore lost volume and plump up your under-eye area, making dark circles less noticeable. Caution is advised with dermal fillers as there are a wide range of potential side effects including tissue necrosis and only experienced physicians should be consulted.
Microneedling: Microneedling can stimulate collagen production, improve skin texture, and reduce the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.


Dark circles and bags under the eyes are a fairly common occurrence that affects a lot of people, in terms of their appearance and confidence too. Understanding their causes and implementing appropriate remedies can help reduce or even eliminate these issues altogether.

In order to tackle your eye bags please prioritise getting enough sleep, maintaining proper hydration, reducing your salt intake and protecting your skin from the sun.

Tackling those dark under-eye circles can be quite tricky especially when the culprits are due to genetics or the natural aging process. Nevertheless, a multitude of treatments such as topical creams, chemical peels, laser therapy, dermal fillers (caution is advised due to potential side effects) and microneedling can aid in enhancing their appearance.

If you adopt a proactive attitude towards skincare and diligently address the factors mentioned in this article that contribute to these issues you can achieve rejuvenated and more youthful looking eyes. 

Author: John Dreyer Optometrist Bsc(Hons), MCOPTOM, DipCLP
Created: 31 Mar 2023, Last modified: 20 May 2024