Dark Circles in Children: Reasons, Signs & Home Remedies

Dark Circles Under Eyes in Kids

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Gunjan Baweja (Paediatrician)
View more Paediatrician Our Panel of Experts

The health and welfare of a child is every parent’s biggest concern and priority. One of the most commonly missed indicators of something not being right with your child can be the dark circles underneath his eyes. Let’s find out why some children develop dark circles and how parents can treat them.

What Do Dark Circles in Children Mean?

The pigmentation underneath the eyes is commonly called dark circles or “racoon eyes”. These spots or discolouration of the skin in the region directly under the child’s eyes is not usually painful, uncomfortable or harmful by itself. However, they can be signs of illness, fatigue or allergies and a big concern for parents is if they will remain as the child grows older.

What Causes Dark Circles in Children?

Dark circles are known to appear in children or adults when the skin underneath their eyes becomes thin, exposing the blood vessels in the region and causing irregular discolouration. The causes may include:

  • Eczema
  • Anaemia, especially iron deficiency
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Accidental or Non-Accidental Trauma
  • Abnormal Skin Pigmentation
  • Nose Congestion
  • Contact Dermatitis – This is a skin condition that could be contagious, and lead to red, patchy, or dry skin, making it itchy and uncomfortable for the child.
  • Fatigue
  • Allergies
  • Excessive exposure to the sun

They can also be caused by:

  • Food Allergies
  • Latex Allergy
  • A reaction to rubber
  • A response to elastic
  • Allergy to detergent
  • Allergies caused by dyes
  • Reactions to cosmetics
  • Reactions to copper, metal or wire.

For further causes of dark circles in children and an in-depth diagnosis of the condition, please contact a paediatrician.

Symptoms of Dark Circles in Children

The most common symptom in children is the discolouration or irregular pigmentation right underneath the eyes. In rare situations, it may turn out to be a type of cancer known as neuroblastoma, which is a malignant tumour that affects the sympathetic nerves.

Here are a few symptoms that you should look for in case your child has dark circles to decide if you need to take him to a paediatrician immediately.

  • Itchy eyes with swelling could be a sign of conjunctivitis.
  • Coughing may signal an allergy.
  • Difficulty in breathing could be a sign of an allergy or infection.
  • A headache could be a sign of problems with the eyes, allergies or infections.
  • A runny nose and dark circles could be a sign of impending flu.
  • A sore throat that could also mean your child has allergies.
  • Nasal congestion can be a sign of either the flu or allergies.
  • Nausea and vomiting could signify severe allergies or an infection.
  • Diarrhoea could be a sign of stomach flu.
  • Skin irritation could be a sign of eczema or allergies.
  • White spots on the throat or tonsils could be a sign of severe allergies and tonsillitis.
  • Sudden onset of cough that could be a sign of anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction).
  • Blurry eyes could be a sign of impending vision loss.
  • Rashes on the back and throat could be a sign of allergies.

Dark Circles in Kids – Diagnosis

Diagnosing the underlying cause of dark circles in children may include blood tests, sleep studies and urine tests. But, at first, the paediatrician will ask a bunch of questions to deduce what the symptoms suggest. Often, children develop dark circles due to allergies, but it is always better to rule every medical condition out to provide immediate medical aid to your little one.

Here are some of the questions that your health provider/paediatrician could ask.

Questions Your Health Provider May Ask You

During the examination and diagnosis process, the doctors may ask you some routine questions. These include:

  • If there is a cough, how long has there been one? How frequent is it?
  • In case there are rashes, when did they first manifest?
  • Is your child allergic to anything you know of?
  • How is your child’s sleep pattern?
  • Have you tracked your child’s body temperature? If so, has it been at a stable temperature or is it fluctuating? Or, what is the highest temperature you’ve tracked so far?

As mentioned earlier, these questions will help the paediatrician deduce the possibilities of medical conditions/allergies and provide accurate treatment to your little one.

Most of the times, dark circles are nothing to worry about. However, some conditions with dark circles as one of the major symptoms may lead to severe medical complications. At times, even failure in treating dark circles could lead to complications. Let’s take a look at what they could be.

Dark Circles in Children – Possible Medical Complications

Dark circles if left undiagnosed and untreated could lead to some major complications like:

  • The existing infection may spread.
  • Loss of vision.
  • Chances of Anaphylaxis.
  • Hearing loss in the child.
  • Delayed growth development in the child.

Now, let’s take a look at the treatments available for dark circles in children.

Treatment for Dark Circles in Children

Here are some treatments that can help improve the appearance of dark circles and also treat the underlying conditions diagnosed by the doctor.

  • Most allergy-related causes for dark circles like a runny nose, headaches, throat irritation, coughs, rashes, etc. can be treated through antihistamines.
  • Rest is recommended to combat fatigue.
  • If your child goes out in the sun for long periods, it is advised to use a sunscreen that has the required SPF. For children, the recommended SPF is 30 or higher.
  • In case of trauma, please consult your nearest physician immediately.
  • Avoid feeding your child foods he may be allergic to. Immuno-therapy is recommended in cases of severe allergic reactions that can’t be avoided but to be given if advised by your doctor.
  • Using eczema creams and lotions can help battle eczema.

Home Remedies for Dark Circles in Kids

Here are some home remedies that have little or no side-effects and can help improve the appearance of dark circles:

  • Using cool tea bags on your child’s eyes can help alleviate some strain from the muscles in the region surrounding the eyes and provide some relief from fatigue.
  • Cucumber slices on the eyes are a well-known method to relax the region around the eyes and help combat dark circles.


  • Placing cold spoons on top of your child’s eyes may help relieve fatigue.
  • Cotton balls soaked in cold water also work well in combating dark circles.
  • Massaging your child’s eyelids gently when closed can help relieve stress temporarily.
  • Iron-rich food like spinach can help increase the level of iron in the body, and over time, fight against dark circles caused by a deficiency of iron.

Now, let’s take a look at ways to avoid dark circles in kids.

Tips to Avoid Dark Circles

There are numerous ways to avoid dark circles. Here are some tips to help you along the way:

  • Maintain a healthy and nutritionally balanced diet.
  • Ensure your child gets enough sleep for his age.
  • Exercising is important. Ensure your kid has an active lifestyle.
  • Iron supplements and vitamin supplements can aid in ensuring nutritional balance which can help fight and avoid dark circles. You must check with a paediatrician if your kid needs any of these supplements and get them prescribed.
  • Control the screen time. Too much exposure to mobile phones, tabs, and televisions can stress your child’s eyes.
  • Don’t overexpose them to sunlight. Make sure the correct SPF is used on them when they are outdoors.

Even the smallest of symptoms can lead to extreme consequences when left untreated. Dark circles could be completely harmless, but could also be a sign of severe conditions. It is, therefore, highly recommended that, if your child has “racoon eyes”, you must consult your nearest medical care advisor/paediatrician.

Also Read: Squint & Amblyopia In Babies

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