Allergies can be a total pain in the butt for a variety of reasons. For one thing, you have to deal with a constantly runny nose, a congested balloon of a head, and itchy, watery eyes every time you step outside. But if you're not paying close attention to your symptoms, you might not know allergies can give you bags under your eyes, too. After all, when you have dark circles under your eyes, you might just assume you're tired, or that it's a genetic thing. But this seasonal affliction may be playing a much bigger role in your under-eye circles than you realize — and there's even a name for it: an "allergic shiner."
According to Healthline, allergic shiners are dark circles beneath the eyes that are the result of "congestion of the nose and sinuses." Of course, a "shiner" is typically a way to refer to a black eye (usually the kind that results from a fistfight), which is why this nickname is so fantastic: It's like your allergies are knocking you out, both physically and figuratively. But how can congestion and clogged-up sinuses lead to anything resembling a black eye?
Well, it's all about understanding what's actually happening in your body when you're suffering from allergies. Healthline reports that nasal congestion happens when the blood vessels in your nose become swollen with fluid, which is what can make the veins underneath your eyes look a little bit darker than usual.
An "allergic shiner" is essentially a defense mechanism from your immune system as your body attempts to fight off your allergy symptoms.
Since an allergy is, in the first place, an immunal response in which your body mistakenly thinks it's being attacked, it kind of makes sense that you would see some physical responses in your body. The only difference is that now, you might be able to tell for sure, one way or the other, if those dark circles actually have anything at all to do with your sleep schedule, or whether they have everything to do with how congested you are every time you leave your house in the spring.
Of course, understanding what "allergic shiners" are and how they happen is one thing; figuring out how to get rid of the dark circles under your eyes is a totally different story. According to LIVESTRONG, the best way to get rid of those allergy-induced dark circles is to see a doctor to get an antihistamine medication, like Zyrtec or Allegra. Histamine is the chemical in your body that's triggered into production by allergies, and it causes your blood vessels to expand, which is why taking a medication that prevents this chemical production could help even out your skin's complexion underneath your eyes, not to mention reign in your overall allergy symptoms a bit.
Another option, LIVESTRONG reports, is to cut two thin slices of potato and place them over your eyes for about 10 minutes, twice a week. I know, it seems super random, but potatoes, according to the health outlet, contain an enzyme called catecholase, which can have "a mild bleaching effect on skin," without causing any physical damage to the area. Hey, it's worth a shot, right?
If you get some antihistamine into your system and some potatoes on your eyes, and still nothing seems to be working, then the dark circles beneath your eyes might be caused by something else entirely.
Other common causes of dark under-eye circles include lack of sleep, a diet that's high in salt, your menstrual cycle, and they can even be associated with thyroid and adrenal problems — but they can also just be genetic. Genetic hyper-pigmentation, LIVESTRONG explains, is basically a fancy way of saying you're more likely to have dark under-eye circles, sheerly because of hereditary factors, and although you can take different steps to decrease the intensity of the appearance of the circles — like sleeping more, using a special concealer, or paying better attention to your diet — they'll still always be there in some capacity.
Generally speaking, though, you shouldn't feel like you have to get rid of your under-eye circles just because they're there. Unless they're a symptom of a bigger health issue (like your allergies, or a really unhealthy and inconsistent sleep schedule), then there's really nothing to worry about. Under-eye circles can be as natural and essential to your genetic makeup as your brow line or your hair color, and there's no reason not to think you can rock a dark-circle look, as long as you're feeling healthy on the inside.