How to Treat a Black Eye

Three Methods:Treating the Injury ImmediatelyContinuing TreatmentConcealing Your Black Eye

A black eye usually looks far worse than it really is, but that doesn't make it any less embarrassing or painful. Swift treatment can help lessen the pain and swelling that accompany a black eye, and can even shorten the duration of discoloration. Read on to learn about treating a black eye and how to cover it up if you feel self-conscious.

Method 1
Treating the Injury Immediately

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    Apply ice or a cold press as soon as possible. This is the most effective treatment for a black eye, and you should begin immediately.[1] The cold will reduce swelling and pain. The color from a black eye is a result of blood pooling under the skin, and the cold will constrict your blood vessels, which may lessen or slow the bleeding.[2]
    • Use gentle pressure to press a bag of crushed ice, frozen vegetables, or an ice or old pack to your eye.[3]
    • Make sure you wrap the ice in a clean, dry cloth. Applying the ice directly to your skin could cause a cold burn.[4]
    • Apply the ice pack to your eye for 20 minutes each hour until you go to bed. So, you will alternate 20 minutes on, 40 minutes off, for at least the first day.[5]
    • Don't put a steak or raw meat on your eye. If there is bacteria on the meat it could easily infect an open wound or pass to the mucous membrane on your eye.[6]
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    Avoid unnecessary strain or pressure on your eye. Don't try to force your eye to open while it's still swollen.[7] Don't poke or prod the injury or press the cold pack against your eye with too much force.[8]
    • If you wear glasses, you may have to go without until the swelling goes down. Your glasses may put pressure on the area around your nose and eye.
    • Don't participate in any athletic activities that could result in further injury. Wait for the swelling to go down until you get back on the field.[9]
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    Take an over the counter pain killer. Acetaminophen can be particularly effective in reducing pain. Aspirin will help reduce your pain as well, but it also thins blood and affects your blood's ability to clot.[10]
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    Notice signs of more serious injury. A black eye is usually a simple bruise resulting from a blow to the head, nose, or eye, or surgical procedures on the face. In some cases, however, a black eye can be part of a larger problem. If you notice any of the following symptoms, call your doctor or go to an emergency room for immediate treatment:
    • Blood in the white or iris. You should see an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) as soon as possible.
    • Double vision or blurred vision.
    • Severe pain.
    • Bruising around both eyes.
    • Bleeding from the nose or eye.
    • You are unable to move your eye.
    • Your eye begins leaking fluid or your eyeball appears deformed.
    • An object has pierced or may be inside your eyeball.
    • If you take a blood thinner or have hemophilia, go to the ER.

Method 2
Continuing Treatment

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    Apply moist heat once the swelling has stopped.[11] A warm washcloth or compress gently held against the bruise can stimulate circulation in the skin around your eye. This can encourage the blood that has collected under your eye to be reabsorbed and may lessen it's dark appearance.[12]
    • Repeat this action several times a day for a few days following the injury.[13]
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    Keep your head elevated.[14] When you lie down, make sure your head is raised up higher than the rest of your body. This position encourages drainage and can help reduce swelling.[15]
    • Sleep with your head propped up on two pillows to keep it elevated.[16]
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    Clean the area. Use a mild soap and water to gently clean any small cuts around your eyes. This will help prevent a bacterial infection, which will elevate your black eye from a bruise to a serious medical situation.[17]
    • Once the area is cleaned, pat with a clean towel and try to keep the injury clean and dry.[18]
    • Signs of infection include a fever, redness, or pus-like drainage.[19]

Method 3
Concealing Your Black Eye

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    Wait for the swelling to go down. Makeup will be no help when your eye is still swollen, and the application might even aggravate your eye further and delay healing time. Just be patient and give your injury a few days to heal.[20]
    • If you have cuts or lacerations around your eye, don't risk infection by trying to cover it with makeup. You'll just have to own your black eye until it heals.[21]
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    Use a primer to keep your makeup in place. A primer will keep your makeup on longer and keep it from settling into wrinkles and creases around your eye.[22]
    • Apply the primer wherever there is discoloration and you plan to use makeup. Dab it on gently with your ring finger, which is your weakest finger and is least likely to irritate your sink.[23]
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    Cancel out the color of your black eye. Depending on the stage of healing, your eye could be red, black, purple, brown, green, or yellow. This shade will show through your concealer and ruin the illusion, so you need to neutralize it by applying applying the opposite color, or the color that is across the color wheel.[24] A color correcting concealer can do this while also applying concealer, or you can improvise with blush or eyeshadow.[25]
    • If your bruise is green, use red, and vice versa.
    • If your bruise is blue, use orange or salmon.
    • If your bruise is yellow, try purple, and vice versa.
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    Apply your concealer over the color-corrected area. Use your ring finger to gently pat the concealer around your eye, covering the color-corrected areas and also blending a little bit out beyond. Allow the concealer to dry and apply another layer if necessary.[26]
    • Once the concealer is dry, apply your foundation and other makeup as normal, being careful to blend the edges of your concealer with the foundation.[27]
    • If you didn't use primer, you can use a dusting of translucent powder to set the concealer.[28]
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    Draw attention away from your eye. Eyeliner or mascara should be avoided until your eye is healed, as it draws attention to the area. Plus, tugging and pressing on your eyelid could cause more swelling.
    • Rock a bright, attention-grabbing lipstick that will have people focusing on your lips instead of your eye.
    • Try a new hairstyle or take some fashion risks. To out-shine your shiner, try changing your hair color or wear something with a bold print. If you've ever wanted to do something crazy with your look, now is the time!


  • If you have suffered physical abuse or assault or were injured due to another party's negligence, contact the police or a lawyer. Someone has committed a crime, and it is your responsibility to aid the legal process and ensure your own safety.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Injury and Accidents