Eye Injury: First Aid for a Black Eye

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Topic Overview

A black eye is a type of bruise. Simple bruises are treated with ice and by elevating the head. The bruise should be gone in 2 to 3 weeks.

  • Apply ice or cold packs for 15 minutes 3 or 4 times a day during the first 48 hours to help reduce swelling. Place a cloth between the ice and the skin. The sooner you apply a cold pack, the less swelling will occur.
  • Do not use chemical cooling packs. If the pack leaks, the chemicals could cause more eye damage. Do not use a raw piece of meat on a black eye.
  • Keep the head raised to help reduce swelling.
  • Be sure to look at the eyeball for possible injury.
  • After the swelling is gone, warm compresses may relieve pain.
Medicine you can buy without a prescription
Try an over-the-counter medicine to help treat your fever or pain:
Safety tips
Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use an over-the-counter medicine:
  • Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
  • Do not use more than the recommended dose.
  • Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
  • If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
  • If you are or could be pregnant, call your doctor before you take any medicine.
  • Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff

Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine

Specialist Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine

Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015