How can I get rid of my 'panda eyes'?

How can I get rid of my 'panda eyes'?

Aging starts in the late thirties and patients may complain of eye bags as a result of degeneration. Find out how you can combat them.

I am a working mother of a primary school child, and am in my late 30s. In the past couple of years I've been getting severe eyebags and dark eye rings. Sleeping more does not help. Now the panda eyes and bags seem permanent. They look so bad that I have had friends asking me if I am a victim of domestic violence. I try to cover up the dark eye rings with make-up, but I don't have time to do this every day.

What causes these dark eye rings and eyebags? What can I do to reduce them? I have a problem with dry eyes and need eye drops constantly - could this be linked?

A: The skin in the eye area is delicate and prone to exhibit signs of aging . Aging starts in the late thirties and patients may complain of eye bags as a result of degeneration. To prevent premature aging, always avoid UV radiation by applying sunblock liberally.

At night use a moisturiser that is formulated for the eye area to keep it hydrated and prevent wrinkles from forming prematurely. Creams that contain retinol will help to reduce fine wrinkles . Tretinoin also helps to stimulate collagen formation. Avoid aggravating factors like pollution/smoking and stress . Haemorrhoid creams may help reduce puffiness of the eye. Cold compresses may also help to a limited extent

Normal saline eye drops used to treat dry eyes may cause eye swelling by osmosis. Reduce usage of normal saline drops to prevent excessive swelling of the eye bags.

Other factors you may consider include:

- Any skin irritation due to rubbing or make-up may also cause the eye area to swell aggravating/mimicking the eye bag. Always be gentle when handling the eye area

- Conditions like sinusitis and allergies may also cause the eye area to swell. Treatment with antihistamines may improve eye swelling

- Sleeping positions such as lying on the side may cause fluid retention and accompanying swelling of the eye area. Sleeping supine may help drainage and reduce eye swelling.

- Alcohol dehydrates the skin and makes the delicate eye area more prone to damage. Reducing night caps may help.

- Underlying medical conditions such as thyroid and kidney problem may cause eye swelling. A doctor will have to treat the underlying medical condition

Mild to moderate skin laxity may be addressed by radiofrequency devices such as the Antilax machine.

Sometimes eye bags are really hollowing of the tear trough resulting in "bags". In such instance the doctor may select a filler such as restylane vitale or Juvaderm ultra to fill up the troughs. Filler also lessons any shadowing or "darkening" of the eye area.

Severe eye bags need to be surgically removed.

Eye bags may be accompanied by dark eye circles. Asian skin may also have inherited pigmentary issues like dark eye circles . Occasionally, the hollowing of the orbits due to aging may cause shadowing of the the eye area giving the impression of dark eye circles.

Depigmenting creams that contain hydroquinone or arbutin may lighten the skin. Sun avoidance is important to prevent further darkening. Always use a sunblock in that area.

Chemical peels done carefully may lighten the eye are. Procedures such as intense pulsed light (IPL) may rejuvenate the skin and lighten the skin.

Creams that contain caffeine may help to constrict the underlying blood vessels and help improve the appearance of dark eye circle. Aging results in thinning of skin and hence blood vessel may be more obvious.

Answer provided by Dr Yeak Hwee Lee, Medical Director, Singapore Aesthetic Centre, a subsidiary of Singapore Medical Group.

E-mail your health queries to a1health@sph.com.sg.

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