Ran into a tree, a door, a wall or a friend’s fist recently? Or maybe you got roughed up by thugs down the alley?
However unsightly and horrifying a black eye may be, it is usually nothing to get worked up about. Not to say you should flaunt it either because let’s face it nobody wants to walk around looking like a partial raccoon. But at least you can rest easy knowing that the blow to your face is unlikely to cause any permanent or severe damage.
A black eye clinically called periorbital hematoma and colloquially termed as a shiner, is usually caused by blunt force trauma to the eye socket or its surrounding areas. More rarely though, it might even stem from certain health ailments such as sinus infections, cosmetic eye surgery, skull fracture, cellulitis among others.
The purplish bruising around the eye after a non-penetrative but an impactful injury to the face or head is technically a hemorrhage around the eye. The trauma damages the small blood vessels in the eye socket area, causing them to leak.
What follows is a pooling of blood and other fluids in the tissues under the skin. It is this accumulation of blood that imparts black eye its distinctive hues. Since the skin around the eye is relatively thin, saggy, and transparent, the fluid build-up makes the socket area noticeably discolored and inflamed.
Whatever the story behind your black eye may be, whether funny or tragic, the chances are that you’re freaking out about sporting your shiner in public. All you can think of is how to get rid of your black eye fast before people started punching holes in your old and trusted smudged eyeliner excuse. Well, here’s all you need to know about recovering from this problem.
- Causes and Symptoms of a Black Eye
- How to Prevent a Black Eye
- When to See a Doctor
- Home Treatments for a Black Eye
- Method 1: Use a Cold Compress
- Method 2: Use Arnica Gel
- Method 3: Use Witch Hazel
- Method 4: Use a Hard-Boiled Egg
- Tips to get relief from a black eye
Causes and Symptoms of a Black Eye
- A black eye is basically a bruise on the skin of and around the eyelid. Along with the telltale discoloration, there is swelling and pain. One may experience difficulty opening the eyelid, blurry vision and a headache.
- The most common cause of a black eye is blunt trauma to the eye region due to a fall or any sort of accident. The force of the injury causes the capillaries under the skin to burst and bleed into the nearby soft tissue.
- The bruise typically starts as deep purple or blackish-blue. As the injury begins to heal, it may turn green and then yellow before vanishing completely.
- A black eye may take one to two weeks to heal completely.
- A skull fracture from a head injury may also cause black eyes. In this case, both the eyes exhibit bruise-like symptoms. Consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
- Injuries that may cause eyeball damage also exhibit black eye symptoms. Get your eyes checked by a specialist if you’re experiencing double vision or loss of vision.
- Bad cases of sinus infections may also produce black eye-like symptoms
How to Prevent a Black Eye
Short of preventing the injury, your options are limited here. However, you can avoid the bruise from developing into the worst case visual if you act fast. Applying a cold compress immediately after the trauma can minimize internal bleeding and prevent the bruising from becoming increasingly conspicuous.
When to See a Doctor
Unlike what its name suggests, a black eye usually doesn’t involve any direct damage to the eye itself. Moreover, this relatively harmless condition tends to clear on its own in a few days. Occasionally though, it can indicate more serious underlying damage which warrants expert medical consultation, particularly if the victim is a child. Rush to your doctor if you notice the following red flags:
- If you experience pain in the eyeball rather than the eye socket
- If you are unable to move the eye normally in all direction
- If you experience difficulty seeing clearly or double vision
- If there are signs of bleeding into the white of the eye
Home Treatments for a Black Eye
While there’s no way you can get rid of that black eye in a snap, there’s plenty that you can do to speed up the healing process. Instead of popping ibuprofen, you can use natural remedies to help your bruised eye heal quickly.
Here are four easy and effective methods to get rid of a black eye fast and safely.
Method 1: Use a Cold Compress
A cold compress constricts the blood vessels, which helps stop the bleeding under the skin. It also helps bring down the swelling. Applying a cold compress on your eye as soon as possible after the injury is also the best way to minimize the bruising. (1)
# Ice Pack
A makeshift ice pack can be used as a cold compress to reduce swelling around your eye. You can also use a bag of frozen vegetables for this purpose.
Things you’ll need:
- Ice cubes (reduces swelling and bruising)
- Cotton cloth
Step 1. Make an ice pack
- Put ice cubes in a clean, cotton cloth and bundle it up for a makeshift ice pack.
Step 2. Apply the ice pack over the black eye
- Place the ice pack over your bruised eye for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the ice pack for a few seconds whenever the cold feels uncomfortable.
- This remedy should be repeated 3 or 4 times daily until the swelling goes down. You should start noticing its effects immediately.
# Cold Spoon
A cold spoon is a very convenient way to administer a cold compress on a black eye. This is also a good way to get rid of bags under the eyes. Keep 2 spoons in a bowl of ice water to have a steady supply of cold spoons. This way you can use one while the other one cools down.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply a cold spoon over the black eye
- Hold a cold spoon over the black eye for 10 to 15 minutes.
- When the spoon gets warmer, replace it with a fresh cold spoon.
Repeat this remedy 3 or 4 times daily until the swelling in the eye goes down. The cold temperature should provide immediate relief from swelling, bruising and pain.
Method 2: Use Arnica Gel
Arnica, extracted from the yellow flower of the Arnica montana plant, has long been used for medicinal purposes and has been an important pillar of alternative medicine. Arnica is effectively used to treat bruises, sprains, muscle aches, joint pains, wounds, and inflamed insect bites. (2)
The flavonoids and sesquiterpene lactones present in arnica are believed to be responsible for reducing pain and inflammation. The essential oils present in it also help fight off infections. Arnica boosts immunity and fights inflammation. When applied to bruises, it disperses the fluid accumulated around the damaged tissues.
Arnica gel can be easily obtained from any homeopathic outlet. If you’re unable to find arnica gel near you, you can also order it online.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply arnica gel on your black eye
- Gently apply arnica gel on the bruised area around your eye, taking care that it doesn’t get into your eyes.
- Don’t rub it in or massage the area. Just apply the gel before going to bed so that it can work while the injured tissues rest.
Apply arnica gel twice a day for at least 1 week. Discontinue use if the black eye heals before this time.
Method 3: Use Witch Hazel
If you’ve used witch hazel to get rid of back acne, you’re probably familiar with its astringent properties due to the presence of tannins. This makes it a great remedy for a black eye, too.
Also, the polyphenols present in it give the herb its anti-inflammatory properties. Witch hazel constricts the blood vessels and stops the bleeding in the area, which helps bring down the swelling in the eye. (3) (4)
Single-Step Treatment: Treat the black eye with a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel
- Soak a clean cotton ball or cloth in witch hazel and hold it over your black eye for a few minutes.
Repeat several times a day for a speedy recovery. You may have to continue with the remedy for about a week.
Method 4: Use a Hard-Boiled Egg
Hard-boiled eggs have long been used to treat bruises and can be effectively used to reduce pain and swelling due to a black eye. Hard-boiled eggs retain heat for a long time and serve as a hot compress (5), which helps relieve swelling. But don’t expect the bruise to transfer to the egg or anything – that’s just an old wives’ tale. This remedy won’t do much to minimize the discoloration.
Step 1. Make an egg compress
- Peel the shell off a freshly cooked hard-boiled egg. You’ll want to use it when it’s still hot.
- Put the peeled egg in a clean, cotton cloth and make a bundle.
Step 2. Apply the hot egg compress to the affected eye
- Hold the hot egg compress over the affected eye until the egg cools down. Take breaks every other minute if needed.
Repeat 2 or 3 times a day. Continue for at least a few days for a noticeable improvement in the black eye.
Tips to get relief from a black eye
- While using a hot or cold compress, don’t force the compress against the eyes. Gently hold it over your eyes instead.
- While applying homemade salves like cayenne-Vaseline or ointments like arnica or witch hazel, don’t let them get into your eyes or you might end up dealing with additional pain.
- Arnica gel should not be used on broken skin.
- When the hard-boiled egg cools down, just boil it again and reapply it to the affected eye. You can repeat this 2 or 3 times.
- Black Eye (Ecchymosis). University of Rochester Medical Center. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=90&ContentID=P02806.
- MayLoo MD.Integrative Medicine for Children. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9781416022992100167.
- Thring TSA, Hili P, Naughton DP. Antioxidant and potential anti-inflammatory activity of extracts and formulations of white tea rose, and witch hazel on primary human dermal fibroblast cells. Journal of Inflammation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3214789/. Published October 13, 2011.
- Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E. American Botanical Council. http://cms.herbalgram.org/expandedE/WitchHazelleafandbark.html?ts=1547018401&signature=17f7f01e19505cf8f8b1278cd746630c.
- Eye Injury (Black Eye). Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/pediatrics/eye_injury_black_eye_85,P01009.
Summary of How to Get Rid of a Black Eye Fast and Safely
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