Have you recently noticed dark circles under your teen’s eyes? Before you jump to conclusions regarding his or her lack of sleep, stress level or potential substance abuse, take a moment to learn about other potential causes.
Dark circles or bags under the eyes are commonly associated with older adults, but they also occur in infants, young children and adolescents. They can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics. If your child didn’t inherit dark circles under his or her eyes, sudden development of them may reveal signs of a bigger problem.
So What’s Causing Them?
Dark under eye pigmentation doesn’t necessarily mean that your child isn’t getting enough sleep or has a medical condition, especially if he or she has had dark circles for years. They are often attributed to a simple eye irritation, injury or heredity. If you notice your child looks and acts a little under the weather, however, the development of dark circles could be a sign of:
- Perorbital/orbital cellulitis (invasive infection of the eye)
Certain activities and environmental factors could also be the culprit. These include alcohol or caffeine consumption, certain medications such as birth control, crying, smoking, stress and sun exposure.
Serious Circle Symptoms
Remember, random and very noticeable development of unexplained dark circles under your child’s eyes could be serious, so seek immediate medical attention when you notice them. If your child is experiencing any of the following, he or she may have a more serious medical condition.
- Blurry vision
- Coughing up yellow, green or light brown mucus
- Facial swelling
- Persistent cough
- Stuffy nose
- White spots on the throat or tonsils
Reduce the Darkness
If eye darkness worsens but your child has received a clean bill of health from his or her primary care provider, it’s more than likely caused by genetics. Try home remedies for under-eye brightening, such as placing a cool tea bag on your child’s eyelids or using a cooling eye mask.
If your child becomes increasingly self-conscious about his or her dark circles, talk to a dermatologist. Although your child may be unable to control developing dark circles under his or her eyes, reducing sodium intake, exercising and getting enough sleep may help.
To find a primary care provider to evaluate your child’s dark eye circles, visit peytonmanning.stvincent.org.
Reviewed by Leyla Akanli, M.D., F.A.A.P., F.C.C.P. medical director, Pediatric Sleep Center, pediatric pulmonology and sleep medicine, Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent.