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Tired eyes, bags, raccoon eyes, shadows -- whatever you call them, dark under eye circles lend nothing to your appearance. A number of factors can contribute to those dark discolorations, and some may be beyond your control. Whatever the cause, there are a number of treatments out there that may make dark circles perform a disappearing act.
Dark circles can certainly make you appear tired, but lack of sleep is far from the only cause. Heredity often plays a part -- and people with dark skin are often more likely to have darker pigmentation beneath the eyes. Thinning skin and loss of fat under your eyes -- an effect of aging -- can cause dark bags. Health issues can also contribute to dark circles. Allergies, congestion or vitamin deficiencies such as those associated with anemia may make under eye circles more prominent.
Some cases of under eye circles may be preventable. Getting enough sleep -- eight hours is recommended -- can help, especially if you're often out late. Propping your head up a bit with an extra pillow can also help reduce puffiness. Smoking, consuming excess alcohol or spending time in the sun without adequate protection are also enemies of healthy looking eyes, so stopping these bad behaviors can help keep the dark circles away. Proper nutrition can also help prevent the bags -- drink plenty of water, eat less sodium and ensure you're getting enough iron from your diet -- think lean red meat, beans and fortified cereals.
If your dark bags are superficial, a topical cream or a home remedy may be all you need. For dark pigmented skin, caused by sun damage or heredity, a skin lightening cream can bleach the under eye bags -- a dermatologist can prescribe on that is safe for use under eyes. Home remedies for tired eyes include chilled tea bags or cucumber slices placed over the eyes. The effects are temporary but the cool temperature may help reduce puffiness. Over the counter eye creams are another option -- ones with caffeine, vitamin C or green tea may show some results. If you're bothered by allergies or dietary deficiencies -- such as anemia -- see a doctor for treatment.
While topical treatments produce temporary results, surgical treatments provide longer lasting relief in some cases. When aging is the cause of your under eye circles -- a loss of fat and collagen can create shadows or hollows -- injectable wrinkle fillers can plump up the area. Results usually last up to a year. Light therapy can reduce dark circles when visible blood vessels are the cause, though the safety of using this treatment near the eyes is debatable. Cosmetic surgery can fix some cases of bags or circles and is the most permanent method -- going under the knife can be costly, but results can last 20 years or more, notes WebMD.