Where do the dark rings under your eyes come from?

Here’s something I can’t get a straight answer to: what is the physiological explanation for the dark rings under one’s eyes due to fatigue, allergies, etc.? One of the answers I found stated that it’s thin skin under the eyes, and the rings are caused by blood vessels. This doesn’t add up, however, due to the fact that the colour should then be pinkish, and any increase in blood flow should enhance the rings (and not just below the eyes, as there are a number of other places on the body with thin skin). I don’t think blood flow increases just under my eyes when I’m tired, for instance.

So does anybody have a real explanation for this one?

I too would be interested. I’ve always assumed that it was an oxygen-defecit thing, but that was based on a comment in one of those Forensic Detective programmes. As they were talking about a dead guy (suffocated), that might not apply here.

Nope - blood seen through skin looks bluish - take a look at the veins on the back of your hand.

Blood in the veins is blue, because it is deoxygenated. Arterial blood is red.

Actually, it’s not blue at all. It’s just very dark red.

Dark circles under the eyes are often called “allergic shiners” and are most commonly caused by allergy. They can also be caused by sinus infections, nasal congestion, eczema, or even just rubbing the eyes too much. They can run in families. They become more prominent with age, as the skin thins out.

Their appearance is due to increased blood flow in this area. the skin is thin here, and there is a lot of vascularity in the tissue beds under the eyes, so when an allergic response or inflammatory response occurs, more blood flows in and darkens the area.


I had a GF who developed them after being put on medication for epilepsy.

I may have posted this question before , but don’t recall if it was answered…
I want to know why they’re referred to as “rings” or “circles” when , to me , they resemble neither.

Why would fatigue or stress result in increased blood flow to my undereyes? Most of the time, when I have big dark undereye circles, it’s because I’m tired and/or stressed out. Neither seems likely to be promoting an inflammatory response like my spring eye allergies would.

Well this makes a lot of sense! I’ve always wondered why I’d get this sometimes when I wasn’t tired, but I suffer from dust allergies so now I understand.


All well and good, but nobody really answered my question- you just told me what I already found and what doesn’t seem to make sense. So I suppose the blood could look dark bluish, but why would you ever have increased blood flow under your eyes because you were tired? And why just under your eyes? Your eye lids are pretty thin, and THEY don’t get dark when you’re tired.


Just carrying on with this thread, how would you get rid of bags (not covering up, like with make up) under your eyes, apart from sleep more.