Red dots under eyes after crying, vomiting, or a headstand

Hi. Could you please tell my why my 7 year old nephew gets red dots under his eyes after crying? Only after crying, and they don't go away immediately! Thank you.

It’s surprising how common this is, and how much it bothers people when it happens. I think it generates fear that something is terribly wrong. So just to reassure everyone, 99.9% of the time, it’s completely normal. It’s because any time we cry, we are often scrunching up our faces and the muscles around the eyes, and sometimes holding our breath which increases the pressure in our heads. Try it! Then the small blood vessels (capillaries)  around the delicate eye skin, dilate and leak red cells. This causes a little red dot to form which generally takes 3-10 days to go away. The same thing happens when we are sick to our stomachs or upside down like in a headstand, or sometimes even down dog in yoga, for example. I’ve even had too tight swim goggles do it.

Factors that cause the red dots under eyes (petechaie):

  • Crying hard, vomiting, or holding breath with a lot of force (valsalva).
  • Being upside down for any reason like a headstand, handstand, hanging upside down in the gym, etc.
  • Taking medications that cause the blood to thin like warfarin, aspirin, Plavix, ibuprofen (Advil), and Aleve. There are many others.
  • Taking over the counter supplements that cause the blood to thin (anticoagulation) like St. John’s wort, and there are many others. You can get a list online.
  • Too much pressure around the eye socket. Too tight swim goggles, or masks, or sometimes even a CPAP mask which is used for sleep apnea.
  • Alcohol and/or liver disease can “thin” the blood in some people and contribution to bruising and this sort of problem.
  • Very rarely a blood disorder like leukemia, or a platelet problem. If the above don’t go away in a week or two or you are getting more, please see your doctor!

Avoiding trauma to the delicate skin around the eyes

  • See above
  • Use a good eye cream twice a day to keep the area moisturized. The delicate eyelid skin has almost no natural oil glands.
  • Avoid unnecessary rubbing, pressure and irritation
  • If you have allergies, please get them evaluation and treated since they often irritate the eyes and the surrounding skin.
  • Use an eyelid sunscreen if you work or play outdoors a lot.
  • Don’t forget your sunglasses and a hat!  🙂  Sun damage thins all skin and cause deterioration of it’s quality.

Hope this helps,  Dr. I



Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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