You don't have to be a senior citizen to get "crow's feet," the wrinkles around your eyes. Also called "smile lines" because they form when you grin, wrinkles under your eyes can make you look older than your youthful years. Depending on the cause of the wrinkles, you may be able to eliminate or significantly reduce your under-eye wrinkles.
Age is not the not the only thing that causes wrinkles under the eyes. Sun damage, squinting, smiling, smoking, acne, muscle movement, surgery, and injuries also cause facial wrinkles. If you notice more wrinkles under one eye, smiling or sleeping may be the culprit. You may smile brighter on one side of your face, or you may sleep more on one side than the other side, pressing that side of your face against the pillow, resulting in under-eye wrinkles.
Over-the-counter wrinkle creams and moisturizes may help reduce your under-eye wrinkles. With warm tap water, apply a gentle, non-soap moisturizer to your face twice a day. MayoClinic.com recommends a wrinkle cream with retinol, which works by neutralizing the free radicals that cause wrinkles. Retinol is a milder version of tretinoin, a prescription cream approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of wrinkles.
A dermatologist can help you decide if you need a more aggressive procedure to treat the wrinkles under your eyes. Resurfacing treatments remove your abnormal tissue and rough skin, stimulating the growth of new skin and the production of collagen and elastin. You cannot have a chemical peel around your eyes, but you can try microdermabrasion, which gives similar results. The doctor uses a tool to polish the skin with tiny crystals and then vacuums up the crystals and dead skin cells. Laser resurfacing works well around the eyes, but by itself, it cannot eliminate crow's feet.
You can help prevent wrinkles under your eyes by avoiding the harmful substances that cause them. Stay out of the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is the strongest. When you are in the sun, apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15. Wear sunglasses and a hat to help shade your eyes from harmful ultraviolet rays. Don't smoke, but do drink plenty of water to keep your skin moisturized. Alternate the sides you sleep on to keep your skin from settling in one place under your eye.
No one treatment is guaranteed to remove your wrinkles. Because over-the-counter creams are cosmetic and not medical, the FDA does not strictly regulate them. Some products may do more harm than good. A wrinkle cream containing alpha hydroxy may increase your risk of sunburn, cites MayoClinic.com. Both creams and medical procedures may irritate your skin, causing redness, burning or rashes.