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You can help heal a black eye at home with certain remedies, including ice. But if you experience concerning symptoms, such as vision changes, you may need medical attention.
A black eye is a bruise around the eye. It happens when blood pools under the skin in the eye area. Most black eyes occur when something hits the face or head, but they can also develop after facial surgery.
In general, a black eye isn’t serious. However, it could be a sign of a more severe injury, like a skull fracture. It’s crucial to see your doctor if you have vision changes or ongoing pain.
If your black eye was caused by a minor injury, you can treat it with various home remedies. In this article, we’ll explore home remedies for black eyes and the stages of healing.
There are many black eye home remedies, we’ve included some recommended home treatments below. Seek medical attention if these home remedies don’t help.
Apply ice within the first 24 to 48 hours of your injury. This will slow down blood flow to the area, which reduces how much blood pools under your skin. Ice also decreases swelling and pain.
Here’s how to safely use ice:
- Place ice cubes in a plastic bag and wrap it with a clean towel. Never put ice directly on your skin.
- Apply the ice for 10 to 20 minutes. Avoid pressing on your eye.
- Repeat several times a day for 1 to 2 days.
If you don’t have ice cubes, use an ice pack or cold compress.
Avoid using raw meat, like steak, or any other food. Even if the food is frozen or cold, it can get bacteria in your eye and cause an infection.
After the swelling has gone down in a few days, apply a warm compress. This helps healing and pain by increasing blood flow to the eye area.
To use this remedy, you’ll need a small towel and large bowl.
- Fold up the towel and place it in the bowl.
- Fill the bowl with hot, but not boiling, water.
- Wring out the towel. Fold it into a square.
- Apply the compress to your eye area for 20 minutes.
You can also massage your eye area once the swelling has subsided. Like a warm compress, this will support healing by promoting blood flow.
If massaging causes pain, or if you still have swelling, avoid this remedy.
Arnica, or mountain tobacco, comes from the plant Arnica montana. It’s believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, arnica creams and gels are traditionally used to treat bruises.
Use caution when applying arnica near your eyes
There isn’t enough evidence to prove whether arnica is effective for treating black eyes. More research is needed. In addition, while arnica is safe on the skin, it could cause serious injury if it gets in your eye. Be careful when applying it near your eyes.
Comfrey, scientifically known as Symphytum officinale, is another natural remedy. It’s conventionally used to treat injuries like strains, sprains, and bruises.
Like arnica, there isn’t sufficient research on comfrey and bruises. If you’d like to try comfrey cream for a black eye, use caution and follow the directions and make sure it doesn’t get into your eye.
Though there isn’t hard evidence, many people claim vitamin C cream can heal a black eye. This might be due to the link between vitamin C deficiency and easy bruising.
More studies are necessary to prove that topical vitamin C can treat a black eye.
In a general, a black eye takes about 2 weeks to heal.
It might take more or less time depending on:
- the severity of your injury
- your age
- your overall health
- how you care for your black eye
Here’s what you can do to speed up recovery:
- Elevate your head. When you’re not sleeping, keep your head elevated. This will help blood flow to your heart instead of pooling in your eye area.
- Avoid pressure. When using ice or warm compress, don’t press on your black eye. Be extra gentle when massaging it.
- Rest. Take a break from sports and other activities that pose a risk for eye injuries.
During the healing process, the color of your black eye will change. This means your body is reabsorbing the blood under your skin.
Here’s what the healing stages look like:
- At time of injury. Your eye area will look red as blood pools under your skin.
- Days 1 to 2. The hemoglobin in your blood breaks down, which makes your skin look bluish purple-black. You’ll have a lot of swelling.
- Days 2 to 10. As your body clears old blood, your black eye will gradually turn yellow-greenish. The swelling will get better.
- Days 10 to 14. Your black eye will look yellowish or light brown.
- After day 14. Your black eye will completely fade away.
If your black eye doesn’t heal after 2 weeks, visit your doctor.
You should also see your doctor if you have:
- discoloration that gets worse
- increasing swelling in the eye area
- eye pain or redness
- inability to move your eye
- vision changes, including blurring and double vision
- cheek or teeth numbness
- loss of consciousness
- bleeding from ears or nose
- constant headache
- severe pain
These symptoms might indicate a more serious injury. See your doctor as soon as possible.
Generally, ice is considered the best treatment for black eyes. Once the swelling goes down, you can use a warm compress and gentle massage.
Your black eye should heal after 2 weeks. If these home remedies for black eyes don’t work, or if you have vision changes, seek medical help.