Some skin problems can be indications of underlying health problems. Dennie Morgan (DM) lines or Dennie Morgan folds are an example of this. Because of their appearance, they’re usually confused with wrinkles and thought to develop as a result of ageing. However, that’s not always the case.
Many people consider the Dennie Morgan line an aesthetic problem. They can be quite prominent if they coexist with other symptoms of the disease or can be seen along with dark circles. The skin also sags as you age, which can make them more prominent. It’s important to know what they look like and what causes them so that you can seek the right treatment.
What Are Dennie Morgan Lines?
Dennie Morgan lines are linear wrinkles that are present beneath the lower eyelids. They are also described as “creases” in the skin. This skin condition can be present from birth and is seen in both children and adults. The creases in the skin can become more prominent when you make certain facial expressions or smile.
In 1948, David B. Morgan, a researcher, described them for the first time. He explained that Dr Charles C. Dennie had noted them in cases of allergy, especially in patients who suffered from eczema, hay fever, and asthma. So, “Dennie Morgan” is a combination of the names of two doctors. In his report, Morgan described two patients who had this characteristic indication of eczema: one was an infant and the other an adult male.
It is not exactly understood how these lines develop. Some say that it develops due to a continuous spasm of the muscle in that area, while others say that it is due to the breakdown of collagen that occurs due to the inflammation resulting from the health problem.
While there may be a genetic basis to it, it is also more common in people belonging to certain ethnicities. One study published in the Annals of Medicine found that the Dennie Morgan folds were most common in India and then Europe and Africa. It doesn’t always have to be an indication of an illness.
Can Dennie Morgan Lines Go Away?
Dennie Morgan lines are permanent. Treating the underlying health conditions won’t make these lines disappear. Once you’ve developed them, they’re going to stay with you throughout your life unless you seek a surgical or non-surgical procedure for their removal. In addition, their appearance can change as a result of ageing; they become more noticeable as a result.
What Causes Dennie Morgan Lines?
You can end up with Dennie Morgan lines due to different reasons. These are as follows:
Atopic Dermatitis or Eczema
Dennie Morgan lines are commonly seen in patients who have atopic dermatitis or eczema. It is a condition in which the immune system responds abnormally to any allergens. It can cause inflammation, and the skin can become red and itchy. According to the National Eczema Society, 1 in 5 children and 1 in 10 adults in the UK have eczema.
Studies have been conducted on the incidence of Dennie Morgan folds in atopic dermatitis patients. One research published in the Archives of Dermatology found that of 300 patients with eczema, Dennie Morgan lines were seen in 25% of them. Among the 69 patients with lower eyelid dermatitis, 57 (83%) had these folds.
While among those patients who didn’t have a lower eyelid dermatitis, more specifically, DM lines were seen in only 17 of 231 patients. Other than that, these folds were also present in patients who had contact dermatitis.
Different creams and corticosteroids are used for the treatment of this skin condition when there is an active flare-up. Even though these make eczema better, the Dennie Morgan lines will stay as is. That’s why it’s seen as an indication of this skin problem. However, it doesn’t only appear in patients who have eczema.
Dennie Morgan lines are especially more common in people who have allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever. This is a common term for seasonal allergies and develops as a result of an allergic reaction to pollen. This also occurs as a result of an abnormal response by the immune system and ends up causing inflammation and swelling.
Dennie Morgan lines that develop as a result of hay fever are also permanent. It should be noted that you can also end up experiencing what’s known as an “allergic shiner.” In this, the skin underneath the eyes takes on a purple, bluish colour and becomes swollen.
In the first report that described them, the researcher also stated that DM folds were common in people with asthma. It is a condition in which the air passageways become inflamed and swollen, which narrows their opening. In addition, excess mucus is produced, which blocks the airways. This makes it difficult for the person with asthma to breathe normally. The NHS has outlined its different triggers, which include:
- Allergic reaction (to pollen, animal fur, mould, dust mites)
- Changes in weather
- Damp environment
Asthma is also caused due to an overactive immune system (although it is not considered an autoimmune condition). It’s possible that the inflammation resulting from the condition results in the breakdown of the collagen in the area underneath the eyes, which can explain the commonality of DM folds in its patients.
Having sensitive skin is not a medical condition. However, DM lines can be more common in people whose skin is sensitive. Because the skin is not as tolerant to any potential irritants or allergens, it can result in contact dermatitis, allergic reaction, or some other skin condition.
An allergic reaction can trigger an inflammatory response, which can again affect the area around the eyes. And we know that DM lines are common in people who have a history of allergy.
Research has shown that your immune response is influenced by your genetics. So, if someone in your family has an overactive or abnormal immune response, it is likely that you will too. And if that member of the family also has Dennie Morgan lines, the chances are that you’ll also end up developing them.
Can You Prevent Dennie Morgan Lines?
It’s not always possible to prevent these folds from developing. That’s because some people are born with them. And they tend to stay there. However, you can do some things to not worsen your problems:
- Identify what triggers your skin problems and manage them.
- Take medication for the treatment of the underlying health problem.
- Do not rub your eyes.
- Use hydrating moisturisers with simple formulas (fragrance and alcohol can trigger a flare-up).
How To Get Rid of Dennie Morgan Lines?
There are different treatments for making the Dennie Morgan lines less prominent. These are as follows:
Hyaluronic acid (HA) fillers are also used for the treatment of these lines. HA attracts water molecules and hydrates the skin. Fillers can also stimulate the production of natural collagen by the body, which can puff up the skin and smooth out the appearance of the DM lines. Keep in mind that you’d need to get maintenance injections after every 1-2 years.
This is a treatment that peels off the outermost layer of the skin by heating the underlying dermis. It is commonly used for minimising the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
These lasers also stimulate the production of collagen in the skin and smooth out the area. So, with that, they can also be used for treating the DM folds. However, it would not work in more severe cases.
Also known as eyelid surgery, blepharoplasty can be performed on both upper and lower eyelids. This surgery can be performed if the patient has severe DM lines and saggy skin. It is an invasive procedure in which the surgeon removes the excess skin, tightens the underlying muscles and repositions the fat pads.
Therefore, it can adequately address the problem. However, keep in mind that it is only recommended for patients whose case is more severe. You may be more suitable for one or more of the above treatments if your problem is only mild.
Dennie Morgan lines are folds or creases beneath the lower eyelids that can develop as a result of an abnormal immune response. It’s believed that chronic inflammation can affect the collagen in the area around the eyes, which can result in the formation of these folds. However, it is also contended that these creases develop as a result of continuous muscle spasms.
It should be noted that these DM folds are permanent, but you can minimise their appearance through certain non-surgical interventions. However, if the problem is too severe, your doctor may also recommend surgery.