Your baby has literally just entered the world and he already looks exhausted; sporting the dark undereye circles supposedly reserved for his parents on many long nights to come. What’s causing it?
If your child is not actually suffering from a chronic case of sleep deprivation–which he probably isn’t, despite all the completely normal nocturnal shenanigans–the likely reasons for those panda eye rings, or ‘periorbital dark circles’, are twofold: either infant allergies, or genetic predisposition.
“Dark circles and bags under the eyes are usually no cause for alarm,” Andrew J. Bernstein, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Paediatrics Northwestern University, and Fellow of the American Academy of Paediatrics, explains. “They can point to allergies, ‘allergic shiners,’ a lack of sleep, or, most commonly, they can just be a hereditary colouration or shape of the eyes.”
Because the skin around the eye is far thinner than other areas, it’s more transparent, and so puffy soft tissue and blood vessels underneath are more visible.
“Most often the dark circles are not due to lack of sleep or poor health,” paediatrician
Alison Mitzner explains. Instead, either genetics or seasonal allergies are the culprits. Nasal congestion from allergies restricts blood flow, causing the veins under the eye to expand and darken–this is also why, during colds and flu, the eyes are a telltale sign of illness.
Both Bernstein and Mitzner do however note that if dark circles suddenly appear on your child and you can’t attribute them to sickness, sleeplessness or allergies, it’s never a bad idea checking in with your doctor.