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How to Know What Allergies Are Causing Your Dark Circles

By: Sarah Vrba , Reviewed By: Dr. Emmy Graber

Woman blowing her nose

Some dark circles persistently remain encamped around the eyes, even after a night of beauty sleep and cucumber slices. While fatigue, stress and thinning skin are high on the list of common culprits fueling those dark circle, allergens might be yet another villain. Pollen, mold chemical irritants and certain food allergies tend to leave behind itchy, puffy eyes and blocked nasal passages. That's the perfect recipe for trapped blood vessels, stressed skin and a pair of sunglasses.

Pollen Puffiness


Every spring plants release their fragrant pollen into the air. Unfortunately for some people, those pretty flowers signal severe hay fever symptoms, like congestion, runny nose, itchy skin and watering eyes. Visible blood vessels and puffiness around the eyes tend to pop up when severe congestion lasts for days on end, meaning relentless dark circles. Also known as allergic rhinitis, many people also experience this dark circle-inducing allergy around the dander of a family pet or high levels of dust.

Mold Mayhem


Moisture develops in areas like the kitchen, bathroom and basement of your home, making the ideal environment for mold to grow. If you walk into your bathroom and start sneezing immediately, you might be dealing with this irritant. While relatively harmless in most cases, the tiny spores mold releases can cause congestion, itchy eyes, runny nose and a scratchy throat. Stuffy nasal passages may cause decreased blood flow and puffiness around the eyes. Just like hay fever, these symptoms build up over time to make the perfect dark circle cocktail.

Irritating Skincare


You might want to take a second look at the concealer you use to cover up dark circles, especially if you have sensitive skin. Many soaps, facial cleansers and foundations contain alcohol, glycol, talc and other additives that can leave skin cells inflamed, chapped and stressed when applied. The cells around the eyes are especially sensitive to harsh ingredients, which can lead to puffiness, redness and inflammation under the eyes, creating that dreaded dark circle effect. Many times this type of allergy, also known as contact dermatitis, recedes once the offending irritant is removed and the skin has a chance to heal.

Food and Medication Allergies


Those dark circles could be sending you a message about your routines at the dinner table and the medicine cabinet. Many people suffer from food allergies, which means the body has an immune system reaction to a particular food, like nuts or dairy. Some allergic reactions cause itchy, irritated eyes, nasal congestion and swelling around the throat and nose, all of which encourage the development of dark circles.

This article has been reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Emmy Graber.

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