Allergic “Shiners” or Black Eyes

Allergies and the inflammation caused by allergies can do a lot different things to your body, but not many people realize that allergies can cause or contribute to the dark, puffy circles that appear under your eyes.

These dark, under-eye circles are called “allergic shiners” and are often seen in people that have allergies. The allergic shiner is a dark discoloration that appears below the lower eyelids, similar to how a black eye or traumatic shiner would appear.

What causes this type of “shiner?”  This dark skin color change, which also can be hereditary, can been seen and occur at any point in a person’s life and if left untreated, the discoloration can become permanent. Allergic inflammation causes congestion in the nose, and this congestion causes poor blood circulation, or “back up” of blood flow in the eye region. This “back up” in the blood flow, or venous congestion, results in discoloration or darkening of the lower eyelid skin. If the blood flow is backed up frequently or all the time, a certain iron-containing dark pigment, called “hemosiderin,” can leak out of the blood vessels.  Leakage of enough of this pigment can cause the allergic shiner discoloration to become permanent.

Treating allergies can make these dark circles go away, but the longer the lines have been there, the more likely they are permanent.

Even permanent discoloration can be treated, but if you’re thinking about getting something done, it’s a good idea to treat your allergies too! Proper treatment will make it less likely for these dark circles to come back!

Source: Franzese, CB, Burkhalter, NW. “The Patient with Allergies.” Medical Clinics of North America, 2010, 94 (5), pp. 891-902]

+ Learn more about sinus and allergy treatment in Hampton Roads.

If you’re interested in learning more about allergy and sinus treatment options from Dr. Franzese and her team of specialists please call her office directly at (757) 889-5632.

Christine Franzese, MD, FAAOA

About Dr. Franzese
Christine Franzese, MD, FAAOA, is a board certified otolaryngologist. She completed a residency in Otolaryngology at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Franzese’s specialties include: allergies and allergy shots, sinus problems (acute and chronic), mild asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, thyroid masses or nodules, salivary gland disorders and nodules, and pediatric ENT issues (ear infections, tonsillitis). She has surgical expertise with removing tonsils and adenoids, thyroidectomies, parathyroidectomies, parotidectomies, and has extensive experience with sinus surgeries. She offers functional endoscopic sinus surgery, image-guided sinus surgery, and balloon sinuplasty procedures.

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