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About Dark Under-Eye Circles in Children

The presence of dark circles under someone’s eyes creates the appearance of poor health 14. When children have dark circles under their eyes, the contradiction between their youthful years and haggard appearance seems particularly worrisome 14. Dark circles under your child's eyes can indicate a number of possible conditions 14. More often than not, they indicate conditions that can easily be improved.

Nasal Congestion and Allergies

The most common cause of dark, bluish circles under the eyes of children is sinus congestion, reports Barton D. Schmitt, M.D., at Parents 14. Inflammation and congestion in the nasal passage cause the veins around the child's eyes to enlarge and become darker, creating the dark tinge under the eyes. Often the underlying condition is hay fever or allergy. The common cold can also trigger inflammation, and additionally causes mouth breathing, which can contribute to circles under the eyes 14. If you treat the underlying conditions, the dark circles should disappear.


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Children with eczema, a skin condition distinguished by inflammation, redness, itching and swelling of the skin, appear to have circles under their eyes when the eczema affects the area under their eyes 14. A 2007 study by Jon M. Hanifin and Michael L. Reed reported at Medscape Today indicates that eczema affects 6 to 17 percent of the U.S. population 3. According to Wrong Diagnosis, eczema is characterized by episodic rashes that come and go in response to skin irritants, stress and allergens. Circles under the eyes that come and go in consort with other rash conditions may indicate eczema 14. Consult with your child’s pediatrician to affirm the diagnosis and discuss treatment options.


Circles can also result from a genetic proclivity to have dark skin pigment in the area just beneath the eyes 1. This hereditary condition can affect men, women and children. If careful medical evaluation fails to reveal an underlying medical condition, your child’s dark circles may be hereditary. A hereditary condition may also be indicated if one or more close family members also have dark circles under the eyes 14. Treatments can include makeup, laser therapy and surgery. cautions that these cosmetic interventions may produce limited improvement in appearance. Finally, deep-set eyes and a prominent forehead can create the impression of dark circles under the eyes 14.

Ethnicity Factors

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Children from ethnicities who have greater skin pigmentation, such as Asians and blacks, can have irregularities in pigmentation that create the appearance of dark rings under the eyes. For example, according to Mayo Clinic, some Japanese children have dark rings under their eyes due to melanocytosis, a condition that causes overproduction of skin pigment 1. This condition reportedly can be treated by laser treatment.


Various lifestyle practices can improve or exacerbate the appearance of circles under the eyes, according to Wrong Diagnosis 14. Chronic or repeated exposure to the sun produces extra pigment, which can make dark circles under the eyes worse 14. Your child should wear dark glasses and use sunscreen to reduce exposure to the sun. Chronic sleep deprivation can create pallor in the skin, which worsens the appearance of circles under the eyes 14. Guide your child into healthier sleep patterns. Poor hydration can contribute to under-eye circles 4. Monitor your child’s fluid intake, and keep her well hydrated. Also, sudden weight loss or lack of nutrients, particularly iron deficiency, can contribute to under-eye circles 4.