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When my allergies get worse, why do I get dark circles under my eyes?


Updated October 01, 2007

Question: When my allergies get worse, why do I get dark circles under my eyes?
Answer: Dark circles under the eyes, when related to nasal allergies, are called “allergic shiners.” Allergic shiners are related to nasal congestion, which can occur for other reasons besides allergies, such as with the common cold or with sinus infections.

When the nasal passages are congested, there is an increased amount of pressure in the nose. This pressure prevents the blood that supplies the superficial part of the face from draining back to the heart. This blood pools in the veins and capillaries underneath the eyes, causing a dark appearance, like a black eye. Some of the fluid from inside the veins can slowly seep into the tissue under the eyes, leading to puffiness of the tissue as well.

Any number of allergy medications that treat nasal congestion would be expected to help these symptoms.

Want to learn more? Find out more about the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and the available treatments.


Buttram J, More D, Quinn J. Allergy and Immunology. The Complete History and Physical Exam Guide. 2003:53-69.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this site is for educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your physician for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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