What to Know About Dark Circles Under a Child’s Eyes

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 07, 2022
4 min read

Dark circles under the eyes are common in adults but can also appear in children. Your child may develop these shadowy eyes as a result of common causes. For instance, some dark circles can form on the skin under the eyes if it becomes thinner than usual.

As a result, the blood vessels under the eyes become exposed, causing a dark appearance. When it happens to your child, in most cases, it will only be temporary.

The reason for the appearance of shadowy dark circles under your child’s eyes could be any of the following:

Nasal congestion. When the nose is blocked, it causes the veins around the nose to become larger and darker. Blocking of the nose can either be caused by a cold or an allergy. If your child’s skin around the eyes looks darker than usual and they have a nasal congestion issue, they could be related. Even so, it is important to check with your doctor.

Genetics. If you have dark circles under your eyes, there is a high probability that your child will get them. This is especially true if you have no other apparent symptoms other than the appearance of the dark skin color beneath the eyes.

Asthma. Dark circles under a child's eyes can also be a result of blocking and narrowing the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. This blocking and narrowing are synonymous with asthma.

Lack of enough sleep. Dark circles may also appear under your kid’s eyes if they are not well-rested. Insufficient sleep or disrupted sleeping patterns can also be a contributing factor. It is, therefore, essential to ensure your child gets enough sleep every night.

Allergies. When dust gets into the eyes, it may cause an allergic reaction. Such a reaction can cause sneezing, a running nose, watery eyes, and dark circles beneath the eyes.

Dehydration. If your child does not consume enough water, their skin will become thinner. Changes may be visible around their eyes, where a dark color forms. This is due, in part, to the exposure of blood vessels under the thin skin of the eyes.

Poor blood circulation. The skin that is around the eyes is delicate. As such, the blood vessels carrying deoxygenated blood from the skin are closer to the surface than in other places. Blood that is depleted in oxygen turns bluish in color. As a result, it may show under the skin in darkened form.

Anemia. Anemia occurs when there isn't enough iron in your diet. Encourage your child to consume more foods rich in iron.

Salty meals. Consumption of foods containing too much salt causes fluid retention under the eyes. This can cause discoloration and mild swelling that appears as bags beneath the eyes.

Neuroblastoma. A gene mutation causes this cancer to form in the nerve cells. In some cases, neuroblastoma can cause dark circles around your child’s eyes.

Injury. This is also known as raccoon eyes, where dark circles appear under the eyes due to a head injury. Blood vessels such as capillaries tear as a result of the injury, causing blood to pool under the eyes.

Pigmentation. Fair-skinned children are more likely to get dark eye circles. Again, this can be traced back to the thinness of the skin around the eye, which causes blood vessels to show more on fair skin than on darker skin.

Sun exposure. The skin around the eyes may discolor more than the surrounding skin because it’s more sensitive. Too much exposure to the sun may also cause the body to produce more melanin, causing pigmentation under the eyes.

If your child is a picky eater, they may form a habit of choosing to consume certain foods over others. Vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and cabbage contain a high amount of vitamin A, which improves eye health. If your child avoids such foods, though, they may suffer deficiencies such as a vitamin A deficiency

Insufficient vitamin A may lead to the formation of dark circles under your child’s eyes. It is vital to be conscious of the daily eating habits of your child. This is the only way to ensure they are getting sufficient fruits and vegetables that are not only rich in vitamin A but also other essential nutrients. 

Have them eat watermelon, cucumber, berries, tomatoes, etc. Also, adding other mineral-packed food such as liver, brussels sprouts, and spinach to your child’s diet may help in other issues such as blood circulation, helping to reduce the appearance of blood vessels under the skin.

Dark circles around the eyes go away on their own and may not require treatment. In some cases, simple changes in your child’s lifestyle are enough to make a lasting change. You can try to:

  • Make dietary changes. If a nutritional deficiency is causing the dark circles, you can implement a diet change to ensure adequate consumption of vitamins and minerals.
  • Help them get a good night's sleep. Ensure that your child gets enough rest.
  • Relieve nasal congestion. If allergies are the cause of the dark circles, consider removing the allergen.
  • Keep your kid hydrated. Ensure your child consumes sufficient water at home and at school.
  • Reduce the consumption of salty food
  • Seek medical advice.

Although the formation of dark circles under your child’s eyes may not be a severe symptom, the underlying causes can be. In cases where the doctor has determined the underlying cause, follow through with the prescribed treatment to the end.