The problem

The skin under the eye is darker than the surrounding skin.


True hyperpigmentation is defined by overproduction of melanin (pigment) in the skin by melanocytes (cells that create melanin).

There are many conditions that lead to increased melanin production.  Inflammation can stimulate pigmentation after acne breakouts, infections, allergic reactions to skin products, and insect bites to name a few.  This type of increased skin pigment is termed “post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation” or PIH.  Laser treatments or chemical peels can evoke inflammation and hyperpigmentation as well.  Dark skin types can be more susceptible to hyperpigmentation triggers such as lasers.

Hyperpigmentation may also be a result of UV damage and sun exposure. A specific type of pigmentation called melasma is known to be stimulated by sun exposure but also by hormonal influences such as progesterone surges during pregnancy and oral contraceptive usage.

Often seen with

Sun damage, facial wrinkles, acne, pregnancy, oral contraceptive use, dark skin types.

Not to be confused with

Prominent eyelid veins, tear trough shadowing, loose lower eyelid skin.

What you see in the mirror

If you stretch the skin with your fingers, the area in question has a darker brown color as compared to the surrounding unaffected skin.  Blood vessels in comparison will appear as small red lines or blue and purple areas.

dr. brett kotlus ny oculoplastic dr

Lower eyelid hyperpigmentation