“Oh he’s just tired!”
I’m looking at one of my youngest kiddo’s school friends, huge blue circles under his eyes. His mom notices me noticing. I’m sure a cloud of concern has moved across my face. She’s embarrassed, like she’s been keeping her son out until midnight every night and I’m about to lay a little mommy judgement on her.
“He’s in bed every night at 7:30, but he still has those dark circles. I get them too. Must be genetic.”
Newsflash: Not fatigue. Not genetic . . . at least not the way you think is genetic.
Those blue, bruise-y looking bags under your kid’s eyes are a RED FLAG for allergies — and not just pollen allergies, but food and mold allergies too. They’re called allergic shiners and are usually associated with allergic rhinitis (runny nose) and sinusitis. There was a recent study that linked the color of the shiners with the severity of the rhinitis: the darker the color, the worse the allergic rhinitis symptoms.
The dark color, which can also include the upper eyelids, for a lovely “punched-out” look, is from blood and fluids pooling in the thin tissue around the eyes. Congested sinuses and inflammation put the squeeze on tiny blood vessels and make it more difficult for blood and lymph to flow smoothly. The skin around they eyes is especially thin and delicate so the effects are more readily visible.
Why is this a RED FLAG?
- chronic sinusitis
- food allergies
- chronic inflammation
- mast cell activation
- chronic infection
- chronic high histamine affects attention and brain arousal neurotransmitters and can contribute to cognitive problems.
Let me repeat that last one . . . chronic high histamine affects attention and brain arousal neurotransmitters and can contribute to cognitive problems.
Why should you care?
- Your kid has allergies that need to be addressed for optimal health.
- High histamine levels contributes to total allostatic load.
Allostatic load is the body’s “wear and tear” in the face of stress. High allostatic load can contribute to poor digestion, over-exposure to cortisol, hypercoagulation, and acceleration of any diseases lurking in the body. It is a constant stessor and a heavy allostatic load can lead to neurological changes, disturbed sleep patterns, and autonomic nervous system issues — think “fight-or-flight” all the time.
By themselves, allergic shiners are a visible effect of an internal imbalance. However, if your child has allergic shiners and a speech delay or digestive problems, something else could be going on. Don’t be surprised if removing a few allergenic foods like wheat, soy, or dairy, or adding a little quercitin to stabilize mast cells results in a reduction of neurological symptoms. It’s all connected.
Researchers, like Dr. Theo Theoharides, are just now digging in to the role of the immune system in developmental delays to uncover possible causes and treatment options. Thinking Moms can get ahead of the pack and use this information to help their kids feel better and function better.
What can you do? Here are a few things you can do to help turn down allergic response and minimize those shiners:
- Try an elimination diet
- Nasal irrigation, with either a neti pot, saline mist, or xylitol nose spray
- Use an air filter, particularly in your child’s bedroom
- Change pillowcases nightly
- Wash hands and face as soon as you get home, including eyebrows!
- Change shirt when you get in as well.
Some additional resources, research and things to think about:
Mast cell activation and autism
Quantitative assessment of allergic shiners in children with allergic rhinitis.
Acetylcholine, Histamine, and Cognition: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Autism Prevention: Mast Cell Activation Disorders
My four year old son has allergic shiners ( according to his primary care) but has almost no runny nose or other symptoms. She did mention his throat looked cobble-stoned as well. Can you have these shiners with no runny nose ?
Has any of you looked into the possibility that your child might be being abused sexually?! Dont turn a blind eye and deaf ear away from that just because its terrifying if it were true! Be certain your not being led to believe a cover up while your child is hurt! I cant believe how many comments were posted without a single mention of this terrible traumatic possibility!
My son wakes up many nights during the week and tosses and turns for hours before eventually falling back asleep for a couple hours or just being awake for the day (at 3am). We’ve had 2 sleep studies which the first said no sleep apnea and the second said mild (the second was at the Mayo). My son is a mouth breather, and had his adenoids removed and his tongue released. He is adopted and was exposed to opiates in utero which one doctor thought could impact his sleep. He also has SUPER dark under eye circles which is how my husband found this article and then yesterday we went to his pediatrician to be tested for allergies. Has anyone had this before? He doesn’t have autism but he is developmentally delayed and has sensory processing disorder.
What about IVIG, I came out with a shiner in the corner of my eye. Had my infusion 4 days ago and felt sick on the 3 Rd day, nasal and diarrhea. Temp was 97.6. it is common to follow up with Benadryl and Ibuprofen after the infusion.
Can you provide additional information regarding the correlation of an allergy shiner and speech delay? My son is 2.5 and has a speech delay but his comprehension is not impacted. His doctor and speech therapist are not worried. I’m curious if allergies are connected to the delay. -thank you
You’re not going to find much in the literature on a connection between the two, but there definitely is one. Essentially, there are overlapping pathways that can be affected by environmental insults (such as antibiotics and vaccines, both of which are implicated in allergies). The immune activation that causes the allergies will cause neurological effects as well. The effects can range from subtle (e.g., ADHD, speech delay, sensory processing issues) to huge (e.g., intense seizure disorders or severe autism). Your son may have childhood apraxia of speech (read The Late Talker by Lisa F. Geng, Malcolm Nicholl, and Marilyn C. Agin as an introduction). Effective therapies can include fish oils, gut healing (possibly including diet — look up Gut and Psychology Syndrome, by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, digestive enzymes, probiotics, and/or Restore
Thank you for the response and additional resources!
Just looking up information on Allergic shiners and autism spectrum. I do have a kid on the spectrum that had allergic shiners early on. I am now continuing in my dental studies so I can treat oral myofunctional disorders. Speech disorders and allergic shiners (especially when no real allergies are found) can go hand in hand with myofunctional disorders of the mouth. If a child breathes through their mouth on a regular basis and sleeps with an open mouth they are unable to use the nose the way it was intended to filter out things and improve oxygen usage within the cells of the body…Might be that there is a different type of connection to look at when connecting the dots for your kiddo…keep looking until you have it figured out.
This! My daughter has seasonal and food allergies. We’ve done all the dietary changes, filters for our water and air..but she still gets shiners sometimes. Oral myology can play a big piece of the puzzle – she is definitely a mouth breather :/
My child sleeps with mouth open. Can this be fixed?
I have the exact same situation!!
I found this looking for the cause of my daughter’s shiners. I took a photo of her this morning and one eye even looked droopy. Wondering if I should go to the eye doctor…or an allergist? Just start to eliminate foods? A little overwhelmed.
Amber, do you have any way of checking in with your intuition? Often the answers to the best approach lie within us and we know them when we see them. Feel it out… Do you have a sense of which foods may be causing a problem? Often it’s good to do at least a bit of elimination to start with. When you get confirmation (or not), it can help you determine your next steps. Eye doctors, just so you know, tend to have VERY conventional approaches to things. Functional optometrists are a bit more aware of the kinds of things that can affect eyesight. I don’t want to scare you, but when one eye droops that is often an indication of neurological issues. The neurological system is tightly bound to the immune system, so that’s not too surprising, but it might be worth thinking about starting from that end of things. When it comes to both immunological and neurological issues, gut healing is always crucial. You might want to start educating yourself on the various kinds of diets that can help you achieve that (GAPS, specific carbohydrate, Body Ecology, etc.) as well as probiotics and digestive enzymes to mitigate the problems in the near term. Restore is a product that helps enable gut healing as well. Standard allergy treatments can be helpful for many, but for others they are just frustrating. It sounds crazy, but NAET (Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique) changed my son’s life, and we are by no means alone in that.
My daughter had hypoxia at birth, global developmental delays, and an ASD diagnosis. She is 2.5yrs. She doesn’t really eat food, she only drinks toddler formula and she will eat crackers or french fries, sometimes baby cereal (multigrain,) and sometimes green pureed foods (puree spinach/zucchini, puree green beans.) We have relationships with 2 nutritionists and early intervention on a daily basis and are working on SOS feeding therapy but she has been a troublesome eater from day 1, she has been in the hospital on feeding tubes before.
She has been allergy tested and is positive for: fish, shellfish, chicken, eggs, tree nuts, and cats. We have seen serious reactions to fish and eggs when introduced to her.
I suspect she also has some intolerance to wheat and/or dairy, but since her diet consists almost entirely of wheat (crackers) and dairy (formula,) I don’t know what to do to get those out of her diet, if it’s possible. She is very picky. She has constant shiners and snottiness and the doctors had us giving her Zyrtec daily from 6 months old. She also has eczema, which used to be quite bad but is getting better. We have recently stopped giving her Zyrtec and she is tolerating it pretty well.
Feeling stuck. Do we just have to wait until she is older and more able to try other foods so we can get her off of dairy/wheat? I hate that she obviously has an allergy to something but we can’t really get rid of the problem.
It is easy to replace her dairy formula with a soy formula. I did it w/my son at 6 months old and I saw a tremendous difference. Let me know how it works for you.
Be careful. Many people find that soy formulas create health issues of their own.
Jennifer, my little girl is about the same age as yours, I hope your situation has resolved! Being on the spectrum, she also gets stuck in what I call “food ruts” and the only way we have found, to get her out, is simply get rid of the food she is stuck on, completely.
Your situation sounds quite serious, if it involves feeding tubes…but for us, I often have to throw away literally every cracker/bready food in the house. After a day of being hungry, she’ll try an apple or banana…and then she gets stuck on that! But the fruit is less problematic than the wheat, which has been a serious battle for us.
We basically rotate through food addictions, as a part time job. Rice noodles and rice seem to be less addictive for her, so those have become a 50/50 when we serve it.
I know everyone has different theories on this, but as I am Chinese, our basic philosophy is not to get stuck on any 1 food – that it causes imbalance in the body. And too much cheap, processed wheat was definitely triggering her behavioral issues.
I’m subscribed to this thread now, so if by any chance you see this and reply, I’d love to know if her issues have resolved, and how you are handling it!
Question. Would the shiner’s go away if my daughter was taking the right allergy medicine??? Or does the allergin have to be removed??? She has severe allergies. Indoor/outdoor, seasonal/non-seasonal..year around! In the process of having food allergy testing. Since she has been taking recommend meds from her ENT her headaches have stopped but she still has the dark circles. Any information and/or comments are appreciated
What do you consider “the right allergy medicine”? They usually go down if the child is not exposed to the allergen, but “allergy medicine” doesn’t change the existence of the allergy. What you really want to do is get rid of the allergies. There are a number of ways to help nudge the immune system into working correctly. They usually involve gut healing. Homeopathy, NAET, Restore, probiotics and anti-inflammatories can all be helpful. I had allergies starting at about the age of 11, for over 40 years. In the past year, I have become aware that they have sharply decreased. I have not used my asthma inhaler in about a year and a half, despite spending hours in houses with cats and kicking up a lot of dust in major cleaning campaigns. That would have been unheard of in the past. I’ve been doing gut healing and homeopathy.
Out of curiosity, does anyone know how long it takes the shiners to go away after the allergy is addressed? We’ve been on a strict diet for a month now and the shiners are still there. I’m wondering if she is still coming in contact with something she’s allergic to, or if we just need to give it more time.
Raina, I am not a medical specialist but I will share my experience – for my 4 year old, it got 100% better when we moved to a different house in a different city. She was sick almost all winter in our apartment in humid Colonia del Sacramento, which always felt damp to me even in the winter. She had the dark under eye shiners and a general puffiness.
After 3 weeks in a dry feeling home in Buenos Aires, her symptoms were completely gone. The rest of the family is much healthier too!
What sealed the deal for me, is she went back to the damp apt/city for 1 day with her dad this week to move our things. As soon as she got back, I could see it in her eyes again.
I don’t know if it’s something you can try, but if you have a family member you can visit in a different (dry) part of the country, that might be the easiest way to test it.
Locals told me it could be a sycamore allergy. Websites tell me it could be dust mites and cockroaches.
My gut? It’s mold, and mold is everywhere in damp environments.
It sounds like mold. You might want to try allergy elimination treatment. There are some very non-invasive, low-risk treatments like NAET, that have the potential to make life much easier.
100% mould illness is very under diagnosed. So many homes, shopping centres and even hospitals (which are notorious) for dampness issues!
This was an interesting read. I came across this looking for why my son has shiners with his croup. It makes sense that croup impacts breathing, thus the dark circles under his eyes. I’ll be concerned if this remains after he’s deemed healthy again. Now, I want to know why I’ve had dark circles under my left eye for the last 30 years.
My son has these on and off and have yet to pin point whats behind it. I will try a few of you suggestions! He has been off Gluten since he was 1.5 years (now 4), which seemed to get rid of the excess mucus when he was young. At the moment though, mucus and shadows. Not sick, but its spring, perhaps its simply allergies and we will need to wash and clean more? I sporadically get Raw milk and probiotics for him. Hoping he won’t need probiotics for life. He is a great eater and sleeper. Just wondering what your thoughts are on prolonged use of probiotics? Would it stop his gut from producing and maintaining a healthy level for itself?
So pleased I found this site. My son is 11 he’s had shiners for the past 6 years, only noticeable in winter when he’s paler. We had blood test done, asked doctor twice, told he just has thin skin, seen ent, tonsils and adenoids fine. He was a preemie, 1.9kg @ 35weeks, maybe this is why??? I’m going to start him on a daily good bacteria yoghurt for a few weeks, if that helps I’ll continue, if not we will arrange an allergy test, does this sound like a good plan?
Yes, the idea is great; however, you need to be aware that most commercial yogurts have only one strain of bacteria and are usually loaded with sugar which makes them counter-productive. It’s usually better to make your own or get a good quality probiotic with at least a few strains. Even better might be homemade sauerkraut which tends to have very high levels of a wide variety of beneficial bacteria. (The more recent info on this seems to show that diversity, i.e. a wide variety of strains, is more important than the particular strains.) You might want to consider “Restore” as well, to help tighten up the “tight junctions” of the gut, making it less permeable.
Also be aware that there are several different types of immunoglobulin that can signal different manifestations for the sensitivities, and most doctors only test one. It’s quite possible that there are sensitivities that he/she missed. Gut healing is a great place to start, but you might want to consider NAET as well. Lots of people have gotten good results for difficult to diagnose sensitivities from this very simple technique. Good luck!
Can you please tell me what restore is ?
Restore is an oral supplement with very little taste that acts on the tight junctions of the gut to help the gut heal and behave the way it is supposed to. If you’re interested in the topic, it is very worthwhile to read Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride to understand what can happen when the gut is compromised and why we should wish to heal it.
This article is pretty judgmental and closed-minded. Allergies are not the only reason for dark circles under the eyes. For example, my daughter was a micro-preemie (born at 1 lb 2 oz) and has dark circles under her eyes due to the extended use of supplemental oxygen (which saved her life by the way).
“Judgmental”? We don’t judge people with allergies here, and we certainly don’t judge micro-preemies. Most of us either suffer with allergies or have children who do. We simply provide information for people who don’t have it already. And the article doesn’t say that dark circles are the ONLY reason for dark circles, but you have to admit that micro-preemies are not very common at about 1-2% of all children while 8% of U.S. have one or more food allergies alone. Add in all the other kinds of allergies, and the percentage rises. Allergies may not be responsible for your child’s dark circles, but they are for most children’s. Obviously, you don’t need the information in the article, but many people do.
Hello! This article is great. My husband is a skeptic when it comes to principles such as “allergies shiners are indicators of an internal imbalance.” He’s a logic guy. A science guy. Can you please share where you got this information so I can show him myself? Or so he can read about if?
Hmmmm… logic and science, huh? Well, I was a Physics major in college, and when I graduated I got an 800 on the logic section of the GRE, so you could say I’m a logic and science gal. The fact that these things are called “allergic shiners” indicates that it has long been well known that they are strongly correlated to allergies. This is from the very mainstream medical show “The Doctors”: http://www.thedoctorstv.com/articles/574-allergic-shiners.
Now, what is an allergy? An allergy is the immune system reacting to something which is harmless. It is also well known that people with a tendency to allergy (it’s called atopy) have an imbalance in their immune systems. TH1 and TH2 cells should be in balance, but in atopic individuals, the immune system is skewed to the TH2: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9530557.
Now, take it further for your logic and science guy who should be interested in WHY this is happening and why it is happening SO MUCH today. He may be interested in the history of “allergy,” which word was first coined when Von Pirquet and Schick were studying the phenomenon of “serum sickness” around the turn of the 20th century. Here is a quickie history to get him started: https://thinkingmomsrevolution.com/vaccines-allergy-autoimmunity-autism/.
What is your degree: PhD, MD, or DO?
What kind of professor are you?
Where do you teach? What do you teach? What is your area of research? Have you been published?
If I have overlooked this information please direct me to it.
Those are questions I’ve answered elsewhere on the site, but I’m curious as to how YOU would react to a barrage of such questions without any sort of introduction. My first inclination, given the way you’ve asked them, is to ignore them, because I strongly suspect that your only intent is to disparage information I have imparted with some specious appeal to authority. The information I give stands on its own merits. If you take issue with something I have said, present your own argument.
I realized you probably had your info somewhere but couldn’t find it
I assumed you were a professor at a university since you call yourself professor and was wanting to see what your area of interest was.
I am a pediatrician.
-University of California, Irvine, BS biological sciences and BS chemistry
-University of Oklahoma college of medicine, MD. Did research in neonatalogy
-Pediatrics residency, Children’s Hospital of Oklahoma
– Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP)
-Mother of 15 year old autistic son.
People all over the internet claim to know about autism, immunizations, food allergies, etc and well, just science in general.
I didn’t come over to your website to be a pain. I was looking for more info about allergic shiners(other reasons about what they could be due to since my son looks like a prize fighter). Then I started reading the posts. I found some interesting info. We all have something in common, we want the best for our children. I won’t bore you silly with the fact I have seen seriously ill children who had vaccine preventable diseases
Anyway I’ll just shove off now since I have offended you. Also because it seems everyone thinks pediatricians are bad people
Get a grip, Jenna. This forum doesn’t need your negativity.
Jason: I believe that ProfessorTMR handled the response to Jenna quite well.
My son has dark circles under his eyes and I have noticed them getting worse. He has an appointment soon and I think they will be checking his hemoglobin.Maybe anemic?..my son does not eat great doesn’t like meat so we try anyway we can to get him to eat meat (even acting like a dinosaur) but I am going to try Pedia sure drinks, staying on top of vitamins,and making sure he is getting more water. He does like milk going to take the allergies into consideration and talk to the doctor about it. Thank you for posting made me feel better . Everything I was reading on the Internet was scaring me.
Meat is not a necessity for protein.
Give him beans, kidney beans , brown beans etc. Meat is really overrated.
Maybe some fish for him?
Or a whole egg couple of times in the week.
Look careful for what it might cause.
Did you know that the old Roman gladiators ate mainly vegetarian?
Beans, barly and fruit.Those men had much stronger bones than average..
That’s what they found.
I get dark circles below my eyes after eating chocolate or cacao powder(strong drink).
This results after only 30 minutes of ingesting it.
The kid in the pic has not extreme dark circles in my opinion.
I have this naturally as well.
It is only with the cacao, theobromin or whatever substance is in it that makes my eyes go extreme.
Give a bar of chocolate to a dog and it gets very sick at least.
So I don’t think I miss too much on this.
Just a heads up, allergic shiners in children can often a be a sign of sleep apnea as well. If the kiddos are snoring on top of having that look, it should be discussed strongly with their pediatrician, or more so an ENT. Kids should NOT be snoring.
consider looking into iodine deficiency. it’s a little controversial, but i don’t think this group is afraid of a little controversy! best of luck to you all. Iodine/thyroid deficiency won’t show up on the usual HMO-approved blood tests, you’ll have to go more from the clinical picture and/or find a doctor who thinks outside the box and has access to “alternative” testing. [I’m 50 and just now piecing together a lifelong picture of chronic subclinical iodine deficiency, the first clue was these shiners in a photo of myself age 4.]
My son has had them since birth and is currently 4 1/2 yes old. No food allergies at all. And isn’t ever sick. His allergies act up when mine do. Been seen by MD nothing wrong with him. PS I have also had them since birth I’m currently 28. So thankfully with us there isn’t a more serious issue.
My son allergic shiners were there from 3 months (he is now 20). Yes he was allergic to milk, soy, eggs and wheat; and anaphylactic to peanuts. And another major allergy polyester picked up by a hair sample test. Now he is better and can use all these foods and substances. We had to address the cause – emotional stress (things he experienced while in uterine) as well as the allergies. I recommend naturopaths and emotional release techniques like The Lifeline Texhnique. It’s worth it : )
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I need all this info, as I am becoming aware of dye/preservatives/sugar having a noticeable immediate effect on my almost 3 yr old who has had these shiners, not sure how long, at least a year. Just learned starting solids before 6 mo or when baby is able to sit on own can cause allergies later in life. My first daughter has suffered since conception, born 2.5 mo early, we moved away from DV a year ago. Going to print this article to take to Dr. appt. She has recently been getting rash on face after foods as well as behavioral effects and developmental delays.
This is in response to a comment you made in thinking mims revolution a while ago. What other things you have used other than the lifeline technique? I live in US. My son has dark circles, medical and developmental issues.
My son had allergic shiners before 1 year old and I wasn’t sure what it was. He was developing normally, though not advanced in any way. By age two, he had regressed into Autism.
Thankfully, through GF and GAPS diet, he is slowly coming back to us but at age 3.5, he is still severely speech delayed and retains symptoms of autism. We are hoping to recover him completely, but try to remain realistic at the same time. And yes, he did receive many vaccines including the first MMR before his 1st birthday.
My husband always wondered how I knew if our son had had dairy. Exactly this. Dark bruised eyes.
Get the bucket he’s going to vomit soon.
My daughter had the same circles, then started the tantrums, throwing up, fatigue. The culprit: SOY. Took soy out of her diet, she returned to her normal happy self. This would not show up on a conventional test, because technically she is not allergic, her pancreas cannot process soy. Once its in her body, it takes about 10 (challenging) days for her to return to normal. This was not diagnosed by a conventional Dr….he didnt have a clue.
Thanks for sharing your story. So many people dont believe that food can cause these symptoms. The problem lies with how that food it grown and manufactured today, sad but true.
hmmm. my one son has the dark circles under his eyes sometimes worse the other days. we are off gluten as of right now and his behavior can be so sporadic as well good and bad days. does anyone k ow of any tests to ask for to test for allergies? thanks
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I have had the dark circles under my eyes since I was young. Later in my teens, I would complain to my mother about my circles and she said that she was told that the doctor assumed (when I was a baby) that I was allergic to “something” but wasn’t aware of what exactly.
Fast forward to me presently, I have Celiac disease, lactose intolerance, anemia, and antibiotic resistance. None of my symptoms became forward until I got a series of shots at the age of 22. I dropped weight, serious bowel issues, darker circles under my eyes and contracted multiple parasites due to my lowered immune system. My toddler son has the same dark circles and both my kids are not vaccinated. I will not pass on them my diseases and problems by injecting them with inflammation adjuvants. good article!