You take careful precautions for your baby--so when you notice dark circles developing under her eyes, you begin to worry it could be a sign of a more serious condition. While these dark "allergy shiners" may signal an underlying problem, such as allergies or a cold, they are rarely a sign of a serious illness, according to Barton D. Schmitt, MD, on Parents.com.
Underneath your baby's eyes are a high number of tiny blood vessels, which are known as the infraorbital venous plexus, according to David L. Fay, MD, on BabiesToday.com. The function of these blood vessels is to then drain into the nose. Because they carry deoxygenated blood, they are darker in color than other vessels in the face. When irritated, these blood vessels can swell and come closer to the skin's surface, which results in dark circles under the eyes.
A number of causes exist behind why your baby may be experiencing dark circles under her eyes. One example is that allergens, such as pollen, pet dander or mold, have entered and irritated the nose. Another is the existence of chronic sinusitis, which is a condition where the sinus cavities, which are hollow areas on the sides of the nose, fail to properly drain and become filled with bacteria and other irritants, according to Dr. Fay. Enlarged adenoids also could be to blame, according to Dr. Schmitt. If you notice your baby is frequently breathing through her mouth, enlarged adenoids could be to blame.
According to Dr. Schmitt, many parents believe dark circles under a baby’s eyes are an effect resulting from lack of sleep. However, Dr. Schmitt says this is not so—that instead, most often the cause of dark circles is related to nasal congestion. An additional misconception is that dark circles are the result of poor health. While dark circles may be an inconvenience, or signal an allergy problem, they frequently do not signal a more serious condition, according to Parents.com.
When allergies or the common cold are present, your child will frequently experience symptoms in addition to dark circles under the eyes, according to AskDrSears.com. Symptoms include a runny nose, excessive sneezing, red or watery eyes, a rattling cough and/or ear infections. When allergies are to blame, your child will often have dark circles combined with nasal congestion. If nasal congestion is not present, another condition could be to blame, according to AskDrSears.com.
If allergies are to blame for your baby's dark circles, simply avoid potential irritants, such as dust, mold and pollen. If your child's symptoms become more pronounced when she is in her bedroom, your child could be allergic to her bedding, according to AskDrSears.com. Also, you should give the room a thorough cleaning and observe and treat any areas with mold. You can also encase your child's mattress and pillows with dust mite-proof covers, which can reduce dust mite exposure. If you suspect your family pet may be to blame, keep the baby away from your pet and frequently wash your pet to remove any dander or pollen it may have accumulated outside. Your baby's physician also may be able to recommend treatment, such as a nasal wash, which can remove allergens from your baby's nose.