Chemotherapy Side Effect: Dark Undereye Circles—5 Tips that May Help


It’s bad enough to feel sick while you’re going through cancer treatments. Worse still to look sick, and nothing makes you look more worn out and down than dark circles under your eyes.

“These dark circles make me look so tired,” writes one fighter. “Can you please tell me some remedy for this problem?”

I’ve had several people ask me about this. You may think that it’s all because of lack of sleep or stress, but actually dark circles are more closely related to bruising—and that’s why they tend to happen during chemotherapy. According to, dark circles under the eyes are caused by leaky capillaries. Blood leaks out into the surrounding skin, and as your body works to mop it up, you see the dark, purplish or blue-black discoloration. It’s much like when you injure yourself and see a bruise a few hours later. This process may happen elsewhere in the body and you wouldn’t even notice, but the skin under the eyes is so thin and delicate and the capillaries so close to the surface that the change in color becomes very visible.

Chemotherapy can cause excess bruising and bleeding, as I mentioned in a former post, so it’s no wonder some of that excess bruising can show up under your eyes.

There are some products out there that claim to help diminish dark circles, but unfortunately many of them contain parabens, ureas, and ingredients that are potentially toxic and best to avoid during treatment. Below I’ve given you five at-home tips to help battle dark undereye circles. Give them a try, and let me know if they help!

1. Tea bags. It’s one of those old tried-and-true remedies and it really does help. The caffeine in the tea diminishes water in the tissues to reduce puffiness, and the tea itself contains beneficial antioxidants. Squeeze out a cooled, used teabag and leave one on (or under) each eye for about 10 minutes. Since chamomile is a natural anti-inflammatory, chamomile tea bags may be extra helpful.

2. Cucumber slices. They feel cool and soothing on your eyes, and are known to help liven up the skin around the eyes.

3. Try some homemade mixtures. An old natural remedy recommends mixing a teaspoon of tomato juice, a half teaspoon lemon juice, a pinch of turmeric powder and a pinch of flour into a paste, applying under the eyes, and leaving for 10 minutes. At night, try mixing half almond oil and half honey and applying under the eyes before bed.

4. Puree a potato. Place an uncooked potato into a blender or liquidizer and puree, then place a little under each eye, lay down, and wait for up to 30 minutes.

5. Apply a cream with vitamin K. Vitamin K has shown in some studies to help diminish bruising. Try to find a non-toxic undereye cream with vitamin K. One possibility: CSI Recovery Eye Cream with Vitamin K & Arnica.

Have you tried any of these remedies? Do you have other suggestions?

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