Allergic Shiners – Causes and Treatments

Face of a woman suffering from allergic shiners

Do you have dark circles, puffiness or bruising under your eyes? Allergies and lifestyle factors can cause dark shadows under your eyes that make you appear tired or injured. This unfortunate eye symptom of allergies and your lifestyle are referred to as “allergic shiners” due to their resemblance to a black eye, or “shiner.” This condition can impact your appearance and have other undesirable symptoms. Learn about what causes allergic shiners and what treatments you can use to dissipate the dark circles, bruising and puffiness under the eyes.

The skin under the eyes is thin and delicate – if the blood vessels under this skin become inflamed, dark circles can form. This is true when you are tired, and it can also occur when you have nasal congestion. When allergies cause nasal congestion, the blood vessels under the eyes can become inflamed and noticeable through the undereye skin. This condition is called allergic facies, also known as periorbital hyperpigmentation or allergic shiners.

Causes and Symptoms of Allergic Facies

Many allergies can result in a stuffy or congested nose. This includes a wide variety of common allergies that many people struggle with all year-round or with seasonal changes. Some of the allergies that can result in nasal congestion that contributes to allergic facies include:

  • Pollen or outdoor allergies
  • Dust or pet dander
  • Food allergies
  • Perfume or chemical allergies
  • Mold allergies

When you have allergies, your body reacts to the allergen by producing an immune response. Antibodies are made by the immune system to fight the allergen and the blood vessels expand. Histamine is released, which can cause the congestion in the nose and sinuses. This nasal congestion and widening of the blood vessels can impact the area under the eyes. The symptoms of allergic shiners include:

  • Puffy, inflamed skin under the eyes
  • Circular shadows under the eyes
  • Bluish or purplish skin under the eyes
  • Sinus pain, sneezing, nasal congestion and other nasal allergies

Not only can the allergies make you feel miserable, but the dark circles under the eyes are very noticeable. The puffy, round “bruises” can resemble a black eye, or shiner – people may ask if you were injured. Dark circles can also make you look exhausted or older than your years.

While a black eye that is caused by trauma to the eye results in a bruise, allergic shiners are different. The small blood vessels become engorged and visible under the thin skin. The inflammation can impact the ability of these blood vessels to drain. If you press on the darkness under the eye and it temporarily disappears, it is caused by inflamed blood vessels. To reduce the appearance of allergic shiners, you need to find treatments that will relieve inflammation, constrict the blood vessels, reduce puffiness and relieve nasal congestion.

How to Get Rid of Allergic Shiners

Most people with allergies know there is not a simple cure for all allergy symptoms, including allergic shiners. However, there are ways to control your allergies and minimize symptoms for relief. If you want to know how to get rid of allergic shiners, you may need to combine a medical and cosmetic approach to your treatment. Here are some ways to help alleviate the cause of allergic shiners and cosmetic treatments to reduce their appearance.

Reduce Exposure to Allergens
Since allergens cause the reaction that results in allergic shiners, controlling allergies is the first line of defense. Avoiding allergens can reduce nasal congestion and other allergy symptoms. If animal dander causes an allergic reaction, you can avoid close contact with pets. Cleaning your home to remove dust, mold and other allergens can be beneficial. You can also use air purifiers to remove dust and other indoor allergens. However, it is not usually possible to remove or avoid all allergens that cause allergic shiners.
Allergy Treatments for Allergic Shiners
There are many allergy treatments that can reduce the symptoms of common allergies. Controlling your allergies can help reduce your nasal congestion and reduce uncomfortable or noticeable symptoms, including allergic shiners. There are a variety of allergy treatments available over the counter, including:

  • Antihistamines
  • Nasal sprays
  • Decongestants
  • Eye drops
Finding the right medication to manage allergy symptoms can reduce nasal congestion and inflammation under the eyes that cause allergic facies. It may take trying a few different options to find the right medication for your allergies. For more severe allergies, prescription medications may be needed. Visit your doctor to discuss prescription medications or therapies that can offer relief from your allergy symptoms when OTC medications are ineffective.
Overall Wellness
Beyond controlling your allergies, how can you improve the appearance of swollen, dark circles under your eyes? While allergies may be what triggers the puffiness and engorged blood vessels, other factors can impact the severity of the dark circles under your eyes. You want to ensure you are taking care of yourself for overall wellness to reduce the appearance of puffy, dark circles. Some key factors to improve your health to overcome allergy symptoms like allergic facies include:

  • Hydrate the body – drink at least 64 ounces of water a day for a healthy body
  • Hydrate the skin – use a quality moisturizer on the skin under the eyes
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol – these substances can dehydrate the body
  • Get enough sleep – your allergic shiners will be more pronounced if you are tired
  • Eat a healthy diet – iron and other deficiencies can contribute to dark circles and bruising
When your body is healthy, it can help overcome allergy symptoms better. You will feel better and the dark circles and puffiness under the eyes may be less noticeable. In some cases, it may be a health or lifestyle issue that is the cause of your dark circles, not allergies. Taking care of your overall wellness could improve your health and reduce the appearance of allergic shiners.
Cosmetic Treatments for Allergic Shiners
If you still have dark circles and puffiness under your eyes from allergies, you can try cosmetic treatments. While cosmetic treatments do not address the cause of your allergic shiners, it can help you hide their appearance. A few effective treatments you can try to reduce puffiness and bruising under the eyes include:

  • Under-eye firming creams can be used to minimize dark circles and puffiness
  • Applying an ice pack for a few minutes can relieve inflammation under the eyes
  • Applying cucumber slice to the eyes for about 15 minutes can reduce puffiness
  • Bleaching under-eye creams can be used for allergic shiners
  • Wearing makeup or concealer can hide dark circles
In some cases, people with allergic shiners have contributing cosmetic issues that make their dark circles more pronounced. Aging plays a big role in tear troughs and visible blood vessels under the eyes – the skin becomes thinner and fat under the skin dissipates with age. Treatments to improve the youthfulness of the skin under the eyes can help diminish allergic shiners. These may include dermal filler injections, collagen induction (microneedling) or laser treatments to firm and smooth under the eyes.

allergy remedies

When To See a Doctor for Allergic Shiners

In most cases, allergic shiners are not a medical concern, only a symptom of your allergies. If you want relief from your allergy symptoms, including puffiness and inflammation under the eyes, your primary care physician can discuss medications and treatments. If you prefer holistic or natural medicine, a naturopathic doctor or acupuncturist may offer holistic allergy treatments.

For cosmetic treatments to help with allergic shiners, you can visit a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon that offers non-surgical skin treatments. Both can offer solutions for improving the under-eye appearance to hide dark circles, including skin treatments, cosmetic injections or bleaching creams. Cosmetic surgery is not recommended for treatment of allergic shiners, as they are considered a temporary symptom, not a permanent condition.

Controlling allergic reactions internally combined with improving wellness and skin treatments can reduce the appearance of allergic shiners and other symptoms of allergies. For many people, there is not one solution that quickly alleviates the allergic facies – it can require trying a few different options to find the best treatment for you.

If you suffer from allergic shiners, there are a variety of treatments and lifestyle changes that can help you relieve your allergy symptoms and the appearance of your puffy, bruised eyes. Talk to your doctor about effective allergy treatments and see a dermatologist to improve the health and appearance of the skin under the eyes. With the right combination of treatments, you can manage and control allergic facies.