What Causes White Circles Around the Eyes?

White circles around your eyes can cause more than just embarrassment. In some cases the discoloration may be a sign of a brain tumor or another serious threat to your health, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Recognize the likely causes of white circles around your eyes to know when you should seek treatment.


White circles around your eyes or other parts of the face often indicate a pigmentation problem called vitiligo, according to MedlinePlus. Your risk increases for vitiligo when you have dark skin, although people between the ages of 10 to 30 also carry a greater likelihood for the condition.

MayoClinic.com reports that cluster headaches are also a common cause of facial pallor that can include whiteness and severe pain around the eyes. Cluster headaches typically occur in periods of one to 12 weeks and you may experience the headaches at least once daily, often at the same time. Most attacks last for at least 15 minutes, while some can extend for several hours.


Vitiligo typically begins with small white patches or spots that appear on the face and then spread over time, causing your skin to lose and sometimes regain color. Pain from a cluster headache is often characterized as sharp or burning, while some people report that their eyes feel as if they are being pulled from the sockets, says MayoClinic.com.


The causes of vitiligo and cluster headaches are unknown, although your family history and immune system likely play a role in vitiligo. Some doctors believe stress or sunburn trigger vitiligo, although more evidence is needed to support these claims, according to MedlinePlus. Your hormones and changes in the chemicals called neurotransmitters, which carry impulses to your brain, may play a role in cluster headaches.


Cluster headaches and vitiligo both lack a cure, although treatment for vitiligo often isn’t necessary. Wearing sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30, as well as the application of some cosmetic creams, can improve your appearance. Repigmentation therapy through the use of corticosteroid pills or lotion can be helpful for severe cases of vitiligo, while your doctor may recommend the inhalation of oxygen through a special mask or an injection of Sumatriptan to relieve cluster headaches. Reduce your risk for headaches during a cluster period by adhering to a regular sleep schedule and avoiding alcohol and tobacco products, says MayoClinic.com.


Vitiligo may render certain areas of your skin more sensitive to the sun, resulting in uneven burning and tanning, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The condition also increases your risk for retinal abnormalities, as well as for acquiring diabetes. A cluster headache may indicate another medical condition, including a brain tumor or an aneurysm.


Your chance of a full recovery from vitiligo is highest if you are in your teens or younger, while older adults have less likelihood of resuming a normal skin appearance. Exhaustion will likely be the only effect you experience after a cluster headache subsides, unless your headache is a symptom of a serious health condition, according to MayoClinic.com. Contact your doctor if symptoms continue.