Can Sinusitis Cause Dark Circles?

Do you still have dark circles, despite drinking copious amounts of water and having a good sleep schedule?

Well, you might be shocked to hear that allergies or sinusitis could be the cause of your dark circles.

Sinusitis can cause nasal and sinus congestion, blocked nose, pain and pressure in the face (especially around the eyes, cheeks and tooth). It may also interrupt your smell and taste senses but did we know that sinusitis can also be the reason for skin darkening and dark circles?

In this blog, we will see how sinusitis causes skin hyperpigmentation and dark circles.

Allergic shiners

When the nose and sinuses are congested for a long time, they can also cause congestion of the smaller veins under your eyes. When these veins get congested, the blood gets collected under your eyes and causes the veins to swell and widen. When these veins become wide, they may become dark, which causes dark circles and puffiness around your eyes. This is termed as allergic shiners.

Also, long-term inflammation can cause facial discolouration. Melanin is a pigment that gives colour to our skin, hair and eyes. Many triggering factors can increase the level of melanin in our body, including inflammation. Since sinusitis is an inflammatory condition, it can cause increased melanin production in our body, which can ultimately cause hyperpigmentation.

Causes of allergic shiners

Allergic shiners are mainly caused due to nasal and sinus congestion. During congestion, our nose or sinuses get swollen (or inflamed), which leads to excess fluid accumulation.

Congestion in the nose and sinuses can cause the tiny blood vessels behind the eyes and nose to get congested as well. When these blood vessels get congested, they swell and appear dark leading to dark circles.

Apart from sinusitis, the most common cause of allergic shiners is allergies, like allergic rhinitis. A common cold or flu can also be the reason for allergic shiners.

During an allergy, our immune system mistakes harmless substances (allergens) like pollen, dust mites, smoke, animal fur, foods, etc., as harmful. As a defence mechanism, our body produces antibodies to fight against these allergens. This entire process will result in the release of chemicals like histamines and other inflammatory mediators. These mediators cause inflammation, and swollen blood vessels and show symptoms like nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose or blocked nose.  

Any kind of allergy can cause allergic shiners, including

  • Food allergies
  • Exposure to indoor allergens like dust mites, cockroaches, mould, animal fur, cold air, smoke (of any kind)
  • Exposure to outdoor allergens like pollen, tree, grass, pollution, or smoke (from cigarette smoking, vehicles or factories)
  • Perfumes or other irritants

People who are likely to have allergic conjunctivitis are more prone to allergic shiners.

Conjunctivitis is inflammation and infection of the white portion of the eye. It is commonly called pink eye. The main cause of conjunctivitis are allergies or bacterial or viral infections.

A person having conjunctivitis may show symptoms like red, itchy and puffy eyes. Due to the irritation and itching, you may rub your eyes often, which can worsen the allergic shiners.

Apart from allergies, there are other causes for dark circles under the eyes, such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Lack of sleep
  • Sleep apnea
  • Ageing can cause the skin below the eyes to thin.
  • Other allergic conditions like eczema or atopic dermatitis
  • Exposure to sun
  • Genetics (dark circles can run in families)
  • Nasal polyps, etc.

Signs of allergic shiners

Dark circles can be caused by many factors, but how do you know if it is due to sinusitis and allergies?

Well, if the dark circles are associated with any of the symptoms mentioned below, then there is a possibility that it is due to sinusitis or any allergies.

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Red, watery and itchy eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Pain and pressure in the face (especially around the eyes, nose, forehead and cheeks)

Treatment of allergic shiners

Since the major cause of allergic shiners is nasal and sinus congestion (also called the stuffy nose), treating it can reduce dark circles as well.

Medicines used to reduce nasal and sinus congestion include:

  1. Nasal decongestants

Nasal decongestants help to open the blocked nose. these sprays show quick relief and are effective for short-period.

  1. Antihistamines

During an allergy, our body releases histamine, which is responsible for the symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, and nasal congestion.

Antihistamines block the actions of histamines released in our body, which will reduce the symptoms like nasal congestion.

  1. Steroid nasal sprays

Steroids are also known as anti-inflammatory drugs. They help to reduce the inflammation (swelling) in the nasal and sinus area. These medicines should be used for a longer period as they take some time (some weeks) to show benefits.

Home remedies

You can try some home remedies to reduce the dark circles. They are effective and safe for everyone.

Some of the home remedies include-

  • Cold and warm compressors. Placing cold and warm compressors under the eyes can help to reduce swelling and puffiness.
  • Massage your skin gently. Give a gentle massage under your eyes and entire face to improve the blood supply.
  • Saline nasal spray. To remove dust, allergens and microbes from the nasal and sinus cavity.
  • Potato juice. Potatoes contain a compound called Quercetin which is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Place a cotton ball dipped in potato juice under your eyes to reduce dark circles.
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