For many people, allergy season brings more than just sniffles and itchy eyes – it can also lead to the appearance of dark, puffy circles under the eyes, commonly known as “allergy shiners.” While these discolored areas may resemble bruises, they are actually caused by nasal congestion and swelling related to allergic reactions. As orofacial myologists, understanding the link between allergy shiners and orofacial myofunctional disorders is crucial in providing comprehensive care for our patients.

What are Allergy Shiners?
Allergy shiners, also known as periorbital hyperpigmentation or allergic facies, are dark, discolored circles that appear under the eyes due to nasal allergies. These circles can range in color from black, brown, dark gray, gray-blue, or purple, and are often accompanied by other allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing, and nasal congestion.

The Connection to Orofacial Myology
Allergic reactions can lead to swelling and inflammation in the nasal passages and surrounding areas, including the paranasal sinuses. This swelling can slow down the flow of blood in the veins located under the eyes, causing a pooling of blood and a darker appearance in those areas.
From an orofacial myology perspective, this swelling and congestion can also impact the function of the muscles involved in breathing, swallowing, and speech. The muscles of the face, tongue, and throat work in coordination with the nasal passages and sinuses, and any disruption in this intricate system can lead to orofacial myofunctional disorders.

Allergy shiners may be an indication of underlying nasal and sinus congestion, which can contribute to improper breathing patterns, tongue positioning, and swallowing difficulties. These issues, if left unaddressed, can lead to further complications such as speech problems, orthodontic relapse, and even sleep-disordered breathing.

Treatment and Management
As orofacial myologists, our role in addressing allergy shiners and their associated orofacial myofunctional disorders is multifaceted. We work closely with allergists, otolaryngologists, and other medical professionals to develop comprehensive treatment plans that address both the underlying allergic reactions and the myofunctional consequences.

Treatment may involve a combination of:

  • Allergy management: Antihistamines, decongestants, nasal sprays, and immunotherapy can help alleviate nasal congestion and reduce the appearance of allergy shiners.
  • Orofacial myofunctional therapy: Specific exercises and techniques can be used to retrain the muscles involved in breathing, swallowing, and speech, promoting proper orofacial myofunctional patterns.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Environmental control measures, such as reducing exposure to allergens and using air filters, can help minimize allergic reactions and their associated symptoms.

By addressing both the allergic component and the myofunctional implications, orofacial myologists can help patients achieve improved breathing, swallowing, and speech function, while also reducing the aesthetic impact of allergy shiners.

If you or a loved one is experiencing allergy shiners or orofacial myofunctional disorders, reach out to the Center for Orofacial Myology at (208) 793-7006 or visit to schedule a free consultation. Our dedicated team of professionals is here to provide comprehensive evaluations and personalized treatment plans to help you breathe, swallow, and speak with ease.