Black eye - Healthily (2023)

A black eye is bruising to tissue under the skin surrounding your eye.

It is usually caused by a blow to the face, such as a punch, or being hit in the face by a fast moving object, such as a tennis ball.

Sometimes, a black eye can occur after

to the face, such as a facelift or a nose operation.

The area around the eye turns bluish or purple because tiny blood vessels (capillaries) under the skin burst and blood leaks out into surrounding soft tissue.

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Your eye may be painful and swollen and your vision may be temporarily blurred. You may also have a

and find it difficult to open your eye.

Recovering from a black eye

A black eye is not usually a serious injury.

After a few days, swelling around your eye will start to go down and the bruise will begin to fade.

Like any other bruise, a black eye will usually take about 14 days to heal completely.

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When to visit your doctor

You should visit your doctor if you have a black eye and:

  • you have changes to your vision
  • the pain in your eye is severe and persistent
  • your eye is warm, red or leaking pus (these may be signs of infection)
  • you become forgetful or drowsy
  • you experience nausea, vomiting and/or dizziness
  • the swelling does not subside after a few days

It's unusual for a black eye to develop unexpectedly, when there hasn't been an injury, but a possible explanation is high blood pressure causing a capillary to burst, or one of the conditions listed below.

When to go to accident and emergency

Go to your local emergency medical centre if:

  • you have two black eyes (this suggests a type of known as a basilar skull fracture)
  • you lost consciousness at the time of the blow to your head
  • you have a severe or persistent headache
  • you have

    loss of vision

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  • you have
  • you cannot move your eye
  • you think something has pierced your eye
  • your eye is cut or there is blood on the surface of your eye
  • fluid is leaking from your eye or your eye looks deformed
  • there is blood or clear fluid leaking from your nose or ears
  • you are taking blood-thinning medication, such as , or you have a bleeding disorder, such as

Self care

Apply an ice pack to your black eye as soon as possible after the injury. You can use a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel.

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The cold will numb the pain and relieve the swelling by causing tiny blood vessels in the tissue surrounding your eye to narrow. During the first day, you should apply the ice pack to your eye for 20 minutes an hour every hour.

Do not apply steak or raw meat to your eye. There is no evidence to suggest this is an effective treatment and you may introduce harmful bacteria into your eye or any wound.

Painkillers, such as



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, can be used to help relieve pain. However, avoid using aspirin (unless your doctor advises you to take it) because it thins the blood and can cause increased bleeding.


How do you know if a black eye is serious? ›

Signs of a black eye associated with a serious head injury-
  1. Blood on the surface of the eyeball.
  2. Inability to move the eye.
  3. Vision Loss.
  4. Double vision.
  5. Blood or fluid coming out from your nose or ears.
  6. Fainting.
  7. Severe or constant headache.
  8. Vomiting.

Can a black eye heal in a day? ›

A black eye is bruising and swelling around your eye, usually caused by a blow to the area, such as a punch or fall. It should get better within 2 to 3 weeks.

How do you get rid of a black eye in 24 hours? ›

Ice. 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.

Why did I wake up with a bruise under my eye? ›

Waking up a few hours after normal bedtime and not sleeping again, sleep deprivation causes the skin to become dull and bruised under the eyes. In such cases, the skin becomes sensitive and causes dark tissues to appear. Allergic Reactions: Allergic reactions and dry eyes also trigger dark circles under the eyes.

Can you have black eyes naturally? ›

5–Black Eyes

There's an eye disorder known as aniridia which makes the eye appear to have “no iris.” In truth, there is a small ring of iris tissue but it is so small and the pupil is so large that it can look like the eyes are completely black. It is due to a chromosome mutation.

Does a black eye need medical attention? ›

Seek medical care right away if you have vision problems, such as double vision or blurring. Also seek care right away if you have severe pain, bruising around both eyes, or bleeding in an eye or from the nose. Apply warm or hot compresses. This may be helpful after a few days when the swelling has gone down.

What are the phases of a black eye? ›

The bruise around your eye will change colours as it heals. The skin may turn from black and blue to green, yellow, and brown before it returns to its normal colour. It may take 1 to 3 weeks to return to normal.

How long does a mild black eye last? ›

How Long Does It Take for a Black Eye to Go Away? For most people, black eyes heal in one to two weeks. Use of ice in the first 24 hours after the injury has the most significant effect on the speed with which the injury heals.

Do black eyes get worse the next day? ›

The swelling from your black eye may get worse over the next couple of days. After that, the swelling should steadily improve until it is gone. The bruise around your eye will change colours as it heals. The skin may turn from black and blue to green, yellow, and brown before it returns to its normal colour.

How long to ice a black eye? ›

In the first two days, ice your eye to decrease swelling and stop blood and fluid from pooling. “Apply a cold compress, 20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off,” he says. (The 20 minutes off is important — constant cold exposure can damage the skin.)

How long does it take for a black eye to form after being hit? ›

Topic Overview. Some minor pain, bruising, and swelling are common following a blow to the eye. A black eye may show up after 1 or 2 days. A few specks or a small amount of blood on the white part of the eye often appear after a blow to the eye.

How do you whiten a black eye? ›

Topical creams and bleaching agents: Topical creams, such as vitamin C, and bleaching agents, such as hydroquinone, can help lighten the appearance of dark circles under your eyes. Chemical peels: Chemical peels use alpha-hydroxy acids to reduce the pigmentation under your eyes.

What does toothpaste do for a black eye? ›

It is believed that toothpaste helps break up the clot and increase blood flow. People report noticing a difference after just one night, but it may take several applications to make the bruise completely disappear.

What causes bruising for no reason? ›

Causes of a Bruise

These bruises result from microscopic tears in blood vessels under the skin. Unexplained bruises that occur easily or for no apparent reason may indicate a bleeding disorder, especially if the bruising is accompanied by frequent nosebleeds or bleeding gums.

Can you have a stroke in your left eye? ›

If you lose vision or partial vision in only one eye and you're not having pain, you may be having an eye stroke, or retinal artery occlusion. It's a medical emergency.

What is a purple bruise under your eye? ›

Medically known as periorbital ecchymosis, this condition describes bruising and discoloration around a person's eyes that resemble the dark circles around a raccoon's eyes. The blood collecting in the soft tissues around the eyes causes bruises, which can vary in color from red to dark purple.

Why does the outer corner of my eye feel bruised and swollen? ›

Possible causes can include tear duct infections, blepharitis, and styes. Some of the conditions that affect the corner of your eye may be treated at home using warm compresses, gentle massage, or artificial tears. However, other conditions may need to be treated with antibiotics or steroid eye drops.


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