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ACAAI > Patients & Public > Resources > Ask the Allergist
Ask the Allergist | What are Allergic Shiners? 

Q. My daughter, who suffers from nasal allergies, has large dark circles under both eyes and my mother-in-law is saying she looks like someone has given her “black eyes” or “shiners”.  Why does she have these, and what causes them?

A: Nasal allergy  symptoms (allergic rhinitis) can really beat up some patients.  Dark circles under the eyes are due to swelling and discoloration from congestion of small blood vessels beneath the skin in this area.  This can give the appearance of having "gone a few rounds" on the playground.The symptoms of allergic rhinitis often produce a combination of gestures and facial features, particularly in children and teens.  The following are telltale characteristics that allergists look for to help diagnose nasal allergies:

  • Allergic salute:  This describes the way that most people use the palm of their hand to rub and raise the tip of their nose to relieve nasal itching and congestion (and possibly to wipe away some mucus)!
  • Allergic shiner:  As above
  • Allergic (adenoidal) face:  Nasal allergies may promote swelling of the adenoids (lymph tissue that lines the back of the throat and extends behind the nose), resulting in a sort of tired and droopy appearance.
  • Nasal crease:  This is a line across the bridge of the nose usually the result - particularly in children - of rubbing the nose (allergic salute) to relieve nasal congestion and itching.
  • Mouth breathing:  Cases of allergic rhinitis in which severe nasal congestion occurs can result in chronic mouth breathing, associated with the development of a high, arched palate, an elevated upper lip, and an overbite. (Teens with allergic rhinitis might end up needing braces.)Recent Question: Do Food Allergens Remain on Objects?