Black Eye (Ecchymosis)

What is a black eye?

A black eye (ecchymosis) often happens from some type of injury to the area around the eye. The injury causes the tissue around the eye to become bruised. Your child's healthcare provider will examine the eye closely. The provider will check to see if there is damage to the eye itself or to the bones around the eye.

What is the treatment for a black eye?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Most black eyes heal fully and don't cause any damage to the eye. Treatment may include:

  • Cold compresses or an ice pack wrapped in cloth placed over the eye for 15 minutes every hour for the first 24 hours. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.

  • Warm compresses to the eye after the first 24 hours

  • Keep using compresses until the swelling stops

  • Keep your child's head raised to help decrease the amount of swelling

It's important to know that the swelling and bruise may appear to spread and go down the cheek or to the other eye. This is normal. Talk with your child's healthcare provider if the bruising and swelling doesn't go away on its own. Call your provider right away if your child develops new symptoms such as a headache or confusion.

Online Medical Reviewer: Chris Haupert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2020
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