As an adult, you may be now used to that puffiness staring at you from the mirror, but what happens when your toddler has bags under the eyes? It’s not something you expect to see in 2-3 year olds. Mostly because they don’t spend sleepless nights worrying about fuel prices and inflation, among other things.
In fact, seeing that your baby has been invaded by swelling and dark circles under the eyes can be a cause for concern. It’s not like you don’t already have a bag full of fears regarding your child, and now a new symptom is adding on. But don’t worry too much about it. Puffy under eyes in a baby are usually not a big deal.
In this article, we uncover the most common causes of dark eye circles and swelling and how to deal with them. If the issue persists, though, it is recommended you check with your pediatrician to rule out a medical condition. Ready? Let’s go.
Is it usual for a baby to have dark circles under their eyes?
Although usual is not the best word to employ for toddlers ‘eye bags and dark circles, swelling in the eye area can happen in some children and it rarely is due to a serious problem. The skin around the eyes is so thin that it makes the veins and soft tissue underneath it more visible. When the nose is congested, which happens a lot with allergies and colds that kids are succumbed to experiencing, those veins become darker and larger. As a result, the area gets puffy.
Another common cause of baby eye bags is large adenoids. This is a patch of tissue whose main job is to trap harmful viruses and bacteria. It is positioned at the back of the nasal cavity and above the tonsils. Children with this issue usually snore loud during sleep. You can also see them breathe through the mouth most of the time.
Are bags under eyes a sign of illness?
In adults, this is a cosmetic concern rather than a health condition. In children, the causes for dark circles and eye bags vary greatly. They are seldom a sign that something dangerous is going on.
As mentioned above, in most cases, nasal congestion and seasonal allergies are to blame for puffiness and dark circles around the eye in kids. More often than not, they mess up with the blood flow in the blood vessels under the lower eyelid.
However, there may be other culprits. Let’s explore some of them.
Other common causes for dark circles and puffy eyes in toddlers:
Hereditary eye bags
Physical features are hereditary. Some people have a genetic tendency towards eye bags. This creates a problem with aesthetics and is not a health condition. The blood vessels that sit under your eyes are known as periorbital veins. As the skin in that area is super thin, it can make them visible. If someone in your family has hereditary eye bags, don’t be surprised (or worried) if your child has them too.
Eyes are usually puffier early in the morning after we wake up. Lying in bed all night enables water build-up around the eyes where the outcome is much more evident than in other areas. A child may face the same issue.
Frequently touching or rubbing the eyes
Kids often rub their faces, which can easily cause eye irritation and create unwanted eye swelling. Nothing to worry about here. If you can teach your little one to keep their hands off their face, that will be perfect. But we all know that this is a tricky job. After all, human beings unconsciously touch their faces all the time. Your baby is no different.
Sometimes the very structure of the face is to blame for eye bags. The bone beneath the cheeks may be positioned in such a way that it creates hollowness in some areas, which will make other areas seem bulkier. If your child is affected, it will be like that forever unless he or she undergoes cosmetic surgery later in life.
Iron deficiency leading to anaemia
This condition is characterised by insufficient number of red blood cells. When there are not enough blood cells, there is a lack of haemoglobin as well, which disrupts oxygen transportation in the body and creates swelling in the blood vessels. In some cases, this may show below the eyes since the skin there is much thinner. If your baby has anaemia, there will be more symptoms other than swelling and dark circles around the eyes.
This is a type of cancer that can arise in different parts of the body.
This is an overproduction of melanin in the skin which appears as brownish spots or darker patches of skin. It can occur in a baby too, affecting the region around the eyes.
An injury or trauma
Children fall all the time as they explore their environment and learn new skills. An injury into the eye area can trigger eye swelling and make it seem as if they have bags and dark circles. In most cases, it is paired with bruising. If your kid suffers an injury, you had better take it to the doctor’s to ensure there is nothing to worry about.
Lack of sleep
Babies and toddlers sleep a lot, which helps them grow bigger and stronger while remaining healthy. If for some reason your child has not been getting enough sleep recently, this could be causing the bags and circles under their eyes.
Blocked tear duct
This can happen for several reasons, including an injury to the eye, which is already discussed above.
A rare condition called phenol sulfotransferase deficiency
This is a deficiency of an important enzyme in the body responsible for the detoxification of various compounds. Apparently, one of the symptoms may be swelling and dark circles under the eyes. To find out whether this is the case with your child, the doctor will order a number of tests.
As rare as it happens, a toddler has bags under eyes due to inflammatory causes, such as:
- Metallurgic substances like wire, copper or metal
- Industrial chemicals in rubber, latex, etc. might irritate the skin and cause dark circles and puffiness
- Detergents or cosmetics are another common source of inflammation, especially when it comes to a child
- Certain foods like gluten, trans fats, saturated fats, sugar, refined carbohydrates, casein, omega 6 fatty acids, Mono-sodium glutamate (MSG), etc. may help to pave the way towards swelling and dark circles under the eyes of your child. They have the same impact on adults.
Infections that may lead to puffy under eyes baby:
Here are some of the infections which may cause your baby and toddler to develop puffy under eyes:
- Bacterial throat infection known as strep throat. This is an infection triggered by group A streptococcus (GAS). It affects the tonsils and adjacent areas at the back of the throat. Overall symptoms revolve around enlarged lymph nodes, vomiting and nausea, headaches, red tonsils, fever, and sore throat. It may give rise to swelling in the facial region.
- Sinusitis. This is an inflammation of the sinuses that brings about facial pain, plugged nose, and thick mucus. In many cases, it also causes headaches. Babies are vulnerable to it. As sinusitis is in full swing, it may spur swelling and dark circles under the lower eyelid. Treatment is complex and involves various steps.
- Rhinitis. This is a condition that acts on the mucous membrane in the nose giving rise to stuffiness and sneezing. It often results from seasonal allergies and the common cold. Unfortunately, your child is not safe from rhinitis but the good news is that it can be tackled easily.
- Sty. A sty occurs when an eyelash follicle or oil gland gets clogged and becomes infected. It can affect both eyelids and it normally resolves on its own but it can be quite painful before it goes away. At times the inflammation may cause irritation everywhere on the eyes causing swelling in the upper eyelid. As far as treatment is concerned, topical creams help with the healing. A doctor will consult you on the best product to employ for your child.
- Viral or bacterial infections that happen in other parts of the body. When you are down with a sickness, it can manifest itself in multiple ways. Other than the typical symptoms, sometimes folks can get a puffy face. This may also be worsened by certain medication. The good news is that once the infection is cleared, everything returns to normal. If your baby is sick and you notice eye bags and dark circles under the eyes, this could be the reason why. Of course, you want to verify that with a paediatrician.
- Conjunctivitis (eye inflammation). You may be more familiar with the term pink eye. By contrast with styes, this condition affects the white part of the eye, giving it a red or pink look. It may cause itchiness, burning, and pain. Swelling of the area is possible too. It can be treated with eye drops. Sometimes doctors prescribe an antibiotic to speed up the healing. However, when it comes to a child, they may choose to skip the antibiotic course unless absolutely necessary.
When are dark circles and bags under eyes a serious issue?
In very rare cases, eye bags and dark circles in children may be hinting at a life-threatening condition, which means it needs urgent medical assistance. The two main threats are prolonged or severe dehydration, which can result in loss of electrolytes, and anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction. As a rule, these are accompanied by other worrying symptoms that are hard to miss.
Questions to ask yourself:
Now, as you can see, there is more than one cause of dark circles and eye bags in children. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish by laymen, i.e. non-medical staff. Since you want the best for your little one, you need to be sure that whatever the problem is, it receives medical attention as necessary.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you make a trip to the doctor:
- Are dark circles and eye bags a hereditary issue in your family?
- Has your child recently been started on a new medication?
- Has he or she been getting enough sleep the last couple of days?
- Does your child have any allergies that you are aware of? An allergic reaction will come with additional symptoms.
- Does your child have a cold?
How do I get rid of dark circles and bags under my baby’s eyes?
If the bags and dark circles in your kids are caused by health issues, you are going to have to consult a doctor on how curb the infection/inflammation. For nasal congestion, clearing the sinuses with saltwater using a netty pot or another device will work. Before you do this, make sure to use distilled water. You don’t want to insert any more bacteria into your offspring’s body.
Alternatively, you can get a saltwater rinse that is specifically meant for this issue. They are available at drugstores and do not require a prescription from pediatricians. It works by applying a few drops of the liquid into each nostril and having your little one blow his or her nose to let the waste out.
If it is a purely cosmetic problem, you can try cold compresses over the eye area. But be careful not to go overboard with it. Don’t apply ice directly on the skin. Ask your doctor for home remedies that curb puffiness and dark circles under the eyes if the issue is not medically related.
Now, if it happens so that your child does not get enough shut-eye, for whatever reason, you should try to put him or her to be earlier and make all the steps it takes to improve his or her sleep.
And lastly, you want to get your baby tested for allergies to rule out a possible medical problem. If your kid develops a reaction to some food, chemical, dust, pet dander, or other allergens, it is vital to exclude it from his diet/environment. Not only will this eliminate the appearance of puffy eyes but also enhance his or her wellbeing. (According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, if you include certain foods in your child’s diet early on, it may help prevent allergies.)
Swelling and dark circles under the eyes: Outlook on Babies
Depending on the cause, your child may or may not need treatment. If you think there might be medical reasons behind your toddler’s eye bags, you should definitely clear this with a doctor. They will do a physical check-up on the eyelids and schedule blood tests and screening as necessary. It goes without saying that if they prescribe some kind of treatment, it is in your best interest to follow it religiously for the sake of your kid’s wellbeing.
All in all, eye bags and dark circles in children are nothing serious, with a few rare exceptions. So, don’t get too nervous before you’ve had a conversation with a doctor to find the real cause for them. I hope this article was useful to you, if you have any questions regarding toddler or adult eye bags and dark circles under the eyes, use our contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.