Black Eye First Aid
A black eye is bruising caused by a rupture of the blood vessels under the skin surrounding the eye and orbital socket area. The majority of injuries that cause a black eye are entirely accidental and, thankfully, not serious.
However, a black eye could signify a more serious injury, such as an internal injury to the eye or a fracture of the orbital socket. You may have a skull fracture if you have double vision, bruising around both eyes, colloquially known as ‘raccoon eyes’ with possible bleeding from the nose.
What Causes A Black Eye
The most common cause of a black eye is a direct strike to the area that causes trauma. Most frequently, balls of any kind to the face followed by physical or domestic assault, contact during sport, accidents, or not paying attention and walking into something. Babies and young toddlers often deliver unintended head butts to unsuspecting people holding them when they suddenly drop their head or if they are developing their neck muscles and learning how to control the weight on top of their shoulders.
Other Causes Of A Black Eye Include:
· Rubbing the eyes too hard can cause them to bruise
· Any hit to the face or nose, even gentle ones
· Dental work on the upper jaw
· Cosmetic surgery
· Broken nose or any corrective nasal surgery
· Sinus infection or an infection around the eyes
· A skull fracture that causes both eyes to blacken
· An allergic reaction
· Rare blood and related skin conditions
· Some cancer treatments
· Physical assault
· Sporting injury
· Unintentional baby or toddler-related headbutt
· Facial trauma
First Aid Treatment For Black Eye
The firs aid treatment for black eye is to apply a cold compress Immediately after the injury is received. Use gentle pressure across the entire surface area. Place a cold pack in the form of a commercial ice pack, a clean cloth or tea towel filled with ice, a bag of frozen vegetables, and ice-cold water compresses to the area around the injured eye. Take care not to press on the eyeball. Applying a cold source as soon as possible after the injury will numb the area reducing pain and help to reduce swelling by restricting how much blood can flow into the damaged tissue. Repeat several times a day for a day or two.
Look for blood. If you see blood in the white or coloured parts of the eye, seek an urgent assessment from a specialist eye doctor called an ophthalmologist. Seek medical assessment immediately if the person develops vision problems such as double vision or blurring, if they have severe pain, bruising around both eyes, or bleeding in the injured eye or from the nose.
How To Know When A Black Eye Is Serious
A black eye is considered serious if the person lost consciousness when they received the black eye. They should also seek immediate medical assessment for concussion if they have a loss of vision, vision changes, severe eye pain, or headaches that don’t go away.
How Is A Black Eye Treated
Black eyes heal by themselves and are usually gone completely within two weeks or sooner in most cases. Black eyes should always be treated first and foremost with ice packs for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, every three hours while awake, for the first 24 hours. Nothing else can be done but allow the injury to heal in its own time.
If you see a doctor, they will examine you and may order X-rays to ensure there are no fractures or other problems to the orbital socket or nasal bone.
Over-the-counter medicines or pain relief prescribed by your GP can help with pain relief in the first few days. Avoid aspirin unless you normally take it regularly to thin the blood, as thin blood can worsen the bruising.
Myth Buster Warning
A cold raw meat steak on a black eye will help to reduce swelling as it acts like a cold pack for as long as it is cold. However, it is flesh and heats up quickly with body heat. The cold effect does not last as long as other ice pack measures. There is also the hyper-extreme possibility that if the eye has any open tissue damage or cuts, this increases the risk of bacterial infections between the microbes on the steak getting into the wound and creating infections for the immune system to fight. Having to heal two different areas of the body in unison means your healing time can be delayed on both fronts.
Taking a nationally recognised First Aid course is a fantastic idea! With the current state of Australia’s medical and healthcare systems and workloads, there has never been a more important time to prepare for the future, learn to recognise and provide First Aid on any medical emergency and treat minor issues at home without burdening the system needlessly. Test your current First Aid knowledge with our quick First Aid Quiz.
A few days after receiving the black eye, healing can be sped up by swapping the cold compresses for a warm compress, ideally 40-42 degrees Celsius. Applying the heat compress dilates the veins and capillaries, allowing an increased blood flow to the area that carries the healing nutrients and oxygen-rich blood to carry away the dead material being replaced by the healing process.
Depending on your personal beliefs, some advocates suggest that you can massage gently around the eye area, but not the eye itself, to help stimulate the blood flow. Counter to that suggestion, there is a higher likelihood of using too much pressure and further bruising the area, meaning the black eye remains for longer. Hence, the predominant advice is to leave them alone to heal naturally.