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.

How to ease a black eye yourself


  • 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


  • take aspirin, unless prescribed by a doctor, as this can make the bruising worse
  • press or rub the area around your eye
  • put ice directly on your skin

See a GP if youhave a black eye and:

  • you have severe pain or swelling
  • you have a headache that doesn't 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
  • it doesn't go away within 3 weeks

Ask for an urgent appointment if you have a black eye and:

  • you're taking blood-thinning medication (such as warfarin)
  • you have a bleeding disorder (such as haemophilia)

Go to A & E if:

  • there's blood visible 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 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 can't move your eye

Find and A & E department here.

Call NHS Direct Wales

If you can't speak to your GP or don't know what to do next call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 or NHS 111 if available in your area.

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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS Choices.
Last Updated: 12/09/2018 10:53:13