Following a head trauma in Pennsylvania, you may notice dark-colored bruises forming around both eyes. The medical term for this is periorbital ecchymosis. However, because the bruises form a pattern similar to the markings of a small North American mammal, the condition also sometimes goes by the name “raccoon eyes.” 

Despite the cute name, however, periorbital ecchymosis is a symptom that you should take very seriously. According to Healthline, it could be a sign of a fracture at the base of the skull. A head trauma that can cause a skull fracture also has the potential to cause brain damage. Furthermore, complications can develop from a basilar skull fracture if left untreated. 

Periorbital ecchymosis can extend beyond the area of the eyes to the cheeks, forehead and temples. The bruises may be black, blue, purple or red in color. They are usually not tender or painful. Symptoms from a skull fracture or head trauma, such as raccoon eyes, do not always show up right away after an injury. Therefore, it is important for you to keep a watch out for them for up to several days after the injury. 

A basilar skull fracture is not the only possible cause of raccoon eyes. However, if periorbital ecchymosis happens in conjunction with a head trauma, it is important to get a medical evaluation right away to either confirm or rule out a BSF. Otherwise, potentially serious complications, such as post-concussive syndrome, meningitis or aneurysms, could result.