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Black eye

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.

Things you can do yourself to ease a black eye

There are things you can do yourself to ease any pain or swelling from a black eye.


  • gently hold an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a cloth to the area around your eye for about 10 to 20 minutes at a time, and repeat regularly during the first 1 to 2 days

  • take painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, for any pain

  • after the first 2 days, gently apply a warm (not hot) heat pack or cloth to the area around your eye regularly during the day


  • do not take aspirin unless prescribed by a doctor, as this can make the bruising worse

  • do not press or rub the area around your eye

  • do not put ice directly on your skin

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • a black eye does not go away within 3 weeks

Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or get help from NHS 111 if:

You have a black eye and:

  • you have a headache that does not go away, or blurry vision
  • the area around your eye is warm or leaking pus
  • your temperature is very high, or you feel hot and shivery
  • you're taking blood-thinning medicine (such as warfarin)
  • you have a bleeding disorder (such as haemophilia)

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Immediate action required: Go to A&E if:

  • you can see blood in your eye
  • you have an irregularly shaped pupil (the black dot at the centre of the eye)
  • you had a blow to the head and have bruising around both eyes
  • you had a blow to the head and lost consciousness or have been sick (vomited)
  • you have problems with your vision, such as double vision, loss of vision, seeing flashing light, halos or shadows, or pain when looking at a bright light
  • you cannot move your eye

Page last reviewed: 27 July 2023
Next review due: 27 July 2026