A black eye is the result of a contusion, which is a fancy name for a breeze. Bruises occur whenever your body takes a sharp blow that breaks capillaries and causes blood to leak into surrounding tissues, collecting at the point of damage. Occasionally, when blood leaks into the top layer of skin, it shows as purple. For some reason, when you get that purple bruising around an eye, people call it a black eye. We suppose "purple eye" just did not sound right. And "black eye" is easier to remember than "bruising around the eye."
How to Treat a Black Eye
1. If you control the swelling in the area, you'll also help control the pain. That means applying something cold to the eye. This could be:
- 1. Ice wrapped in a towel 2. A gel pack you have kept in the fridge for such occasions 3. A bag of frozen peas 4. Sticking your face in a snow bank (not easy if it's summer and you're in Orlando) .
2. Apply the cold compresses 10 minutes on your face, 10 to 15 minutes off. Ice should be covered with a towel to protect your eyelid, where the skin is pretty thin. In fact, it's better to apply the compresses to your cheek, not the lid, to avoid further damage.
3. Keep this routine going with the cold compresses for the next day or two. Boring? Of course, but you should have thought of that before you got the black eye.
4. Treat the infection. Use acetaminophen. Avoid aspirin, as that thins the blood, and what you're hoping to do is to get the blood to clot and stop leaking into surrounding tissues.
5. Take large doses of Vitamin C for the next five days; this has been shown to promote healing of contusions.
6. After one or two days, switch from cold compresses to warm compresses.
7. Try to control sneezing (like, do not sniff ground black pepper) and do not blow your nose for several days. In the event the bone around the eye has had some minor fracturing, expelling air forcefully from your nose will also force air out of sinuses near the socket, injecting it under your skin. Like most injections, this does not feel good. Moreover, it may also cause additional swelling and increase the likelihood of infection.
Black Eye Remedies
Black eyes commonly last for about a week. Should the above procedure not put you on the road to wellness after a few days, see a doctor. And certainly see a doctor if the blow to your anatomy results in blurred vision, pain in and around the eye, light sensitivity, or "floaters" in your field of vision. You may have gotten a conversation or done some serious damage to your eye. Also see the doc if any of the following show up in the next few days:
* Eye pain that's something more than the usual sensitivity from a breeze
* Increased redness
* Changes in vision
* Drainage from the eye
* Visible problems with the eyeball, such as bleeding
A few home remedies have been applied over the years. A century ago, leeches were put on your face to suck out the blood. (Just think of the reception you would get from your buddies coming into the office with a leech hanging from your cheek.) Then putting raw beefsteak on the black eye became all the rage. Some people still swear by that treatment, though they may not know the reason why it works – because the steak is cold coming out of refrigeration; a bag of frozen peas does the same thing and does not cost $ 8 a pound.
As for the embarrassment of explaining a black eye (people always assum, for some reason, it's the result of a well-placed knuckle sandwich), work on some excuses ahead of time. It's very nearly impossible to cover one up with make-up.
Admittedly, you could try wearing an eye patch or sporting dark glasses everywhere you go, but then you would have to explain the patch or the shades, especially when you're wearing them to business meetings. White theatrical greasepaint applied liberally to the entire face may work to cover that shiner, but mimes are even less welcome in business meetings than pirates or people with sunshades.