What Are Allergic Shiners?

Dark circles under the eyes in people with nasal congestion

Allergic shiners are dark circles under the eyes that are related to nasal and sinus congestion. While they often occur with seasonal allergies, allergic shiners can affect anyone who experiences this type of congestion for any reason.

This article goes over why you might have dark circles under your eyes during allergy season or when you're otherwise stuffed up, as well as what you can do to treat allergic shiners.

An older woman with dark eye circles
Digital Vision / Getty Images

Why Allergies Can Give You Dark Eye Circles

When the nasal passages are congested, it increases pressure in the nose. The pressure makes it harder for the blood in the face to drain back to the heart.

Blood pools in the veins and capillaries under the eyes, making the skin in that area look dark. The pooled blood shows up more than it would in other parts of the body because the skin under the eyes is very thin.

In addition to the blood pooling, fluid from inside the veins can also slowly seep into the tissue under the eyes, making them look puffy.

Allergic Shiners vs. Black Eyes

A black eye is a bruise that is caused by trauma. When an injury happens, blood from damaged blood vessels seeps into the tissues. Like other bruises, a black eye changes color over several days as it heals, often going from red to black to blue to green to yellow.

Allergic shiners are not like a bruise. The appearance of dark circles from allergies should go away once the nasal congestion is better and the blood flow is back to normal.

Another difference is that dark circles from allergies usually appear under both eyes rather than just one eye, as is often the case with a black eye.

Causes of Allergic Shiners

Anything that triggers nasal/sinus congestion can give you dark circles under your eyes, including:

  • Outdoor allergens (e.g., pollen that triggers hay fever or seasonal allergies)
  • Indoor allergens (e.g., mold, dust mites, and pet dander)
  • Food allergies
  • Irritation or allergy (e.g., to cigarette smoke, scents, and chemicals)
  • Upper respiratory infections (e.g., colds, influenza, and sinusitis)

How Allergic Shiners Are Treated

One way to reduce allergic shiners is to figure out what your triggers are and avoid them.

You can also try over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications that reduce nasal congestion or use an allergy medication that's prescribed by your healthcare provider.

There are also some self-care methods for allergy symptom relief you can try, such as:

  • Placing a cold compress under your eyes
  • Propping up your head with extra pillows at night to help the fluid drain better
  • Blowing your nose whenever needed

If you're bothered by how allergic shiners looks, you can use concealer to hide the dark circles until they are reduced.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

Allergic shiners are usually not a major health concern, but there are some reasons you would want to talk to your provider:

  • Your allergy symptoms are keeping you from doing your daily activities
  • You have signs of infection such as high fever, green nasal discharge, or sinus pain
  • Only one eye is affected and is getting worse


Dark circles under your eyes from allergies are common, especially if you have nasal congestion as a symptom. You can’t always prevent allergic shiners. but trying to avoid your allergy triggers and using medication and home remedies to treat your symptoms can help. 

Dark circles can also be caused by other conditions. You should see your provider if you have dark circles and other symptoms like a fever or green discharge from your nose, which can be signs of an infection.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. What is a black eye?.

  2. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Eye allergies.

  3. UCLA. Allergic rhinitis.

  4. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. How can I eliminate my eye allergies?.

By Daniel More, MD
Daniel More, MD, is a board-certified allergist and clinical immunologist. He is an assistant clinical professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and currently practices at Central Coast Allergy and Asthma in Salinas, California.