Dark under eye circles are a common occurrence in adults, but not unheard of in children. The common causes in adults like fatigue, decreased sleep and ageing do not apply to children. When seen in children it does not imply a serious underlying disorder or disturbed sleeping.
Allergies are the most common cause for dark under eye circles in children. Allergy can be triggered by pollen, dust, food, dog dander etc. Allergies produce a stasis that is stagnation of blood flow in the veins of the lower eyelid, which is so close to the thin skin surface and hence make the bluish congested veins show as darker skin, thereby appearing as dark circles. It is called as Allergic shiners. This is usually associated with a nasal blockage, frequent rubbing or scratching of the eyes, running nose, sneezing and other symptoms of allergies.
The other causes of dark under eye circles in kids include, enlarged adenoids producing nasal blockage, sinusitis, viral colds and the flu. It can be hereditary when you can find other members in the family who have an inherent increased pigmentation in the lower eyelid skin. It could be Eczema, causing irritation of this delicate skin resulting in darkening.
Usually dark circles do not require any treatment. However, if the cause is known then you can attempt to control the allergen exposure and manage allergies with a prescribed anti-allergy medications. You can treat the underlying sinus infection or adenoid hypertrophy, which may be causing these dark circles.
When to Worry
If dark circles are present with any of the following, then it may be reason for concern and definitely requires medical attention. If there is discoloration only under one eye, it could indicate that there is trauma, possibly indicating some abuse. If there is a life threatening allergic reaction, what we call anaphylaxis that needs absolutely prompt medical attention. If there is poor weight gain, there is failure to thrive or a developmental delay it could indicate malnourishment. If you have sunken eyes with the dark circles associated with diarrhea or vomiting it could mean that there is dehydration. If you have these dark circles with vision problems or hearing problems you will have to rule out to tumor especially neuroblastoma. Thank you.