Black Eye

Treatment  at Home

Rest and ice applied early after the injury helps decrease swelling and pain.

Ice helps decrease swelling by constricting blood vessels, by decreasing fluid accumulation, and by cooling and numbing the area.

  • Apply ice for 20 minutes an hour every hour while awake, for the first 24 hours. Do not apply ice directly to the injury.
  • To avoid potential cold injury to the site, wrap the ice in a cloth or use a commercial ice pack. A bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth makes a good ice pack.

Protect the area from further injury. Avoid athletic or other possibly injurious activities until the eye has healed.

Do not put a steak or a piece of raw meat on a black eye. Putting potentially bacteria-laden meat on a mucous membrane or an open skin injury can be dangerous.

A black eye is a relatively common result of injury to the face or the head, caused when blood and other fluids collect in the space around the eye; swelling and dark discoloration result-hence, the name “black eye.”

What Causes a Black Eye?

The most common cause of a black eye is a blow to the eye, forehead, or nose. Depending on where the blow lands, one or both eyes may be affected.

  • A blow to the nose often causes both eyes to swell because the swelling from the nasal injury causes fluid to collect in the loose tissues of the eyelids.
  • Surgical procedures to the face, such as a facelift, jaw surgery, or nose surgery, can cause black eyes.
  • A certain type of head injury, called a basilar skull fracture, causes both eyes to swell and blacken. This condition is typically described as “raccoon’s eyes.”
  • Other causes of swelling around the eye include allergic reactions, insect bites, cellulitis (skin infection around the eye), angioedema (a hereditary condition causing swelling, usually around both eyes), and dental infections. However, these conditions do not make the skin turn black and blue around the eye.