The Causes of Dark Purple, Puffy Eyes in Children

Crying Mixed Race Toddler Girl
Small child rubbing her eye with her hand. (Image: Jani Bryson/iStock/Getty Images)

Many adults are incorrect in their assumption that children with dark purple, puffy eyes are not healthy or are sleep-deprived. Under-eye circles are in fact the result of several other conditions and are more noticeable in fair-skinned children. Parents can help eradicate these circles by identifying and treating their underlying cause.

Allergies

Nasal congestion is the most common cause of dark circles under the eyes, according to a Parents.com interview with Dr. Barton D. Schmitt, director of general consultative services at the Children's Hospital of Denver. Often, allergies or hay fever cause this congestion. When your child's nose is congested, eye veins are unable to drain into nose veins. As a result, the veins around the eyes become darker and larger and appear puffy and purple.

If allergies are the cause of your child's nasal congestion, consider allergy shots and over-the-counter allergy medications, while making efforts to avoid allergic triggers.

Infections

Chronic sinus infections and recurrent colds are another common reason for nasal congestion that leads to dark under-eye circles, according to Canada’s Hospital for Sick Children. During these types of infections, mucus your child's nasal passages becomes thick and infected, blocking the nose. Similar to allergy-related nasal congestion, vein drainage is affected and the veins around the eyes will become darker and larger and cause dark circles under the eyes.

Enlarged Adenoids

Enlarged or “hypertrophied" adenoids can block your child’s nasal passages, resulting in mouth breathing and snoring. When adenoids fully block the nasal passage, children can experience sleep disturbances or apnea, according to DrPaul.com. You may note puffy and purple circles under your child’s eyes, along with fatigue and irritability resulting from interrupted sleep. Doctors often remove enlarged adenoids surgically, although you and your child's pediatrician should make this decision after carefully weighing the pros and cons.

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