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What are the puffy dark circles under my son’s eyes?
Q: My 18-month-old son always seems to have puffy, dark circles under his eyes. He eats well and sleeps well (most of the time). He does suffer from food allergies; could this be the cause?
Mandy Galion
A: Mandy, it is likely the puffy, dark circles under your son’s eyes do result from his allergies. Allergists typically descote this as “allergic shiners.” The dark circles and swelling indicate congestion in the tissues and blood vessels around the eyes, nose, and sinuses commonly caused by allergies.

You’ll want to make sure you’re aware of everything your son is allergic to and that you’re doing everything you can to avoid exposure to these allergens. Has your son been evaluated by an allergist? Is he only allergic to foods or is he also allergic to other things such as animal dander, pollen, mold, dust mites, cockroaches, feathers, or cigarette smoke? Have you tried to make his diet and his environment at home and child care as allergen-free as possible? Since children spend many hours in their bedrooms, allergists often recommend making the bedroom allergy-free by removing carpeting, cleaning frequently, and getting a HEPA air filter for the room.

If your son appears uncomfortable with persistent itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, cough, wheezing, or difficulty sleeping, be sure to ask the allergist if any other medication or treatment might be helpful.
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician