You told yourself last night that you’d get a full eight hours of sleep for that exam you’ve got. “Come on, one more episode couldn’t hurt”, you said to yourself. And one episode turned into two, and two to four, and four into an entire series. The morning after, you find yourself in bed having gotten a grand total of two hours and forty-four minutes of sleep. You pick your lifeless body up and look in the mirror, only to see immense shame and massive bags under your eyes. You know where the shame comes from, but what about those dark bags that announce to the world your poor life choices?
The vessels that be
No need to panic when you see bags start to appear under your eyes. These dark circles are not at all linked to a serious medical condition, however irritating they may be. In the medical profession, these rings go by a different name: periorbital hyperpigmentation.
The reason why these bags start to appear can be chalked up to both genetics and the environment according to dermatologist Carole Clinton. They are most often found on people born with light to pale skin. On these people, the skin is somewhat more transparent and shows what’s really happening below.
When someone is tired or stressed, blood circulation around the eyes slows down. The very thin vessels (or capillaries) on the periphery then become engorged which causes them to dilate, and the area under our eyeball takes on a darker shade.
Age and melanin
If underneath the eye becomes darker, then we can assume it’s the vessels below that are at play. If the bag becomes clearer, then hyperpigmentation can be attributed to problems of the eye’s flexibility. When an individual ages, the fat under their skin disappears which may give the impression it’s growing.
This is what happens in the case of the furrowed area that forms between the eye and the nose. As it becomes deeper, the shadow it creates under the eye becomes more and more pronounced and gives off the impression of hyper-pigmentation. In this instance, it has nothing to do with blood circulation or pigment but is merely an illusion.
The colour is also quite telling: blue, pink, or purple means blood vessels are the culprit; brown means it’s a matter of excess melanin under the skin. Whatever the case, don’t be alarmed about bags – it’s a fact of life.