Can Sinus Problems Cause or Worsen Dark Under Eyes?

I had a chronic, constant sinus infection from age 13-18. One side effect was that the dark patches under my eyes I'd always had worsened significantly. Finally, an ear nose and throat doctor diagnosed me with vasomotor rhinitis (non-allergenic sinusitis caused by excessive or oversensitive blood vessels in the nasal membrane). Surgery corrected the sinus infection but the dark circles, while slightly lessened, remained. My sisters also have dark patches since an early age (we are 1/4 African American), but the one who has the darkest also had to have the same surgery. How can this be treated?

Doctor Answers 4

Dark circles can be corrected with Arcus Release and IPL

Recurrant sinus infection with swelling of the eyes can certainly cause puffiness but not dark eyelid color.

All humans have darker skin under the eyes--it is caused by the fact that the eyelid skin is very thin and the color of the muscle under the skin (purple) shows through the skin.

However, many people have darker skin than most people under the eyes. This is an inherited trait.

Skin color under the eyes can be lightened. Most dark circles under the eys are caused by a combination of pigment and many small blood vessels. This condition can be corrected using IPL treatments-a light treatment similar to a laser. In your case I would also try a combination of Retin A and 4% hydroquinone-topical ointments that can remove pigment.

Some people have a hollowness beneath the ;lower eyelid. A procedure called an arcus marginalis release and fat grafting can plump the hollow and reduce the shadow beneath the lower eyelid.

You can see before and after photos here.

Eye Dark Circles, Are They Related to Sinus Disease?

Hi Miss Caitlin,

Dark circles under the eyes are one of the most difficult problems to correct. We really don't have the answer to the problem.

They can be related to sinus problems as well as allergies; they have been called allergic shiners. They are also genetically passed down as you are seeing with your sisters.

Many cosmetic companies have creams that claim to help, but I have not found one yet that works.

Some patients get improvement with Restylane filling the hollowness of the lower eye lid so that there is less shadow effect.

Today I heard an ad on the radio asking for volunteers to try a product called Hydrolyze for dark circles. Call 1-800-554-1505 to find out more information. If you find success, please share your results with us.

Good luck and be well.

Dr. P

Michael A. Persky, MD
Encino Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Dark circles are difficult to treat

Hi Miss Caitlin,

Dark circles under the eyes are certainly a difficult problem to treat.

It is really hard to tell what may have caused your problem, but it sounds like you may have a combination of color related to nasal allergies/sinusitis, and genetically inherited circles. Other causes can be thin skin showing color of the blood vessels and muscle underneath, or shadow effect due to loss of fat in the lower eyelid area.

I have advised most patients to try products designed for under-eye circles for several months each before givnig up. The common ones are Hylexin, and Teamine. We are now starting to hear more about Hydrolyze, but as with the others, there is no one product that will work for everyone.

In many patients, the darkness is accentuated by hollowing in the lower eyelid area. The hollowing in this area is one of the first signs of aging, and generally begins in the early thirties, although it can begin earlier or later in life.

In general, treatment of hollowing relies on replacement of volume. This can be done with hyaluronic acid (HA), or fat grafting safely. Some may also suggest use of calcium hydroxyapetite, but I dont use this directly under the eyelids in my practie.

The concept is simple - fill the hollow, eliminate the shadow, and improve the circles.

Behrooz Torkian, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

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Under eye circles are complex

There is no one answer to everyone's circles and under eyes puffs or discoloration. Sinus congestion is a common cause. Chronic allergies make people rub the skin, which darkens the skin over time. Sometimes, it is a hereditary pocket of fat. If there is no puffiness or bag, the discoloration might respond to Renova, Triluma, Lumierre, Revale, Eye Hope or other topical creams. These products do nothing for bags and profound swelling, however. For that, surgery might be best, or filler if the skin is still tight.

I detailed history and evaluation by your dermatologist might be of great benefit. Good luck.

Mary P. Lupo, MD
New Orleans Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.