I've never had a black eye, but I was in a car accident that turned my entire ear dark purple a few years ago. Believe me; it was enough to get more than a few funny looks.
Walking around with bruises is never fun, and it's even worse when they're on your face or neck. A black eye is an invitation for anyone you meet to ask what happened. It's one thing if you actually have a good story, but most black eyes happen in ways that we'd probably rather forget.
There are no miracle cures that instantly make bruises disappear, but there are a few things you can try both before and after they appear to mitigate the damage and save some face (yes, pun intended).
If you're bruising easily, it's possible that you're not getting enough vitamin C, vitamin K or iron. See your doctor to get a blood test. If you're deficient, you may need to take a multivitamin or, increase your intake of vitamin C, vitamin K, and iron (either through a supplement or in your diet).
There are also many medications that increase your risk of bruising or can make bruises last longer than they should. The most obvious one is over the counter anti-inflammatory medications known as NSAIDs. You'll know them better as Tylenol, aspirin, Advil, Aleve, and ibuprofen. Try taking fewer of these medications if you're the type of person that bruises easily.
Keep taking any doctor-prescribed drugs that thin your blood, including Warfarin and Prednisone, but read on for some tips to help prevent bruises from getting worse when they happen and increase the speed at which they dissipate.
When you have an incident you know will cause a bruise, you'll want to put a cold compress on it immediately. The cold helps to keep the swelling down and prevent the damage from getting as bad. If this happens a lot (are you a boxer or something?), get some reusable ones and keep them in the freezer.
If you don't have any cold compresses on hand, you'll want to use an ice pack, but if you don't have one, a bag of frozen vegetables, ice cubes, or whatever else you have in the freezer works just as well. Whatever you use, wrap it up in a dish towel to cover any sharp edges and make the temperature a little more bearable for your skin.
Apply the cold compress to the bruise for anywhere from 10-30 minutes, then take it off for 15 to rest. Repeat the cycle several times within the first 2 to 3 hours after the injury and try to keep the bruise elevated as much as possible to reduce pressure.
After 24 to 48 hours, you'll want to switch from cold to a warm compress to help increase blood flow to the area, which will speed up the healing process. You can make this super simple by using warm water to dampen a towel and holding it over the injury until it's cool. Or, you can invest in a dual heat and cold compress.
After the discoloration that comes along with a bruise has already shown up, it's a little harder to deal with, especially if you weren't able to prevent any of the damage by treating it early.
However, if you're still looking to speed up the healing process, try or (or all) of the following home remedies. There aren't extensive medical studies on any of these home remedies, but some people have had success with them.
Applying the right kind of pressure to a bruise can help make it heal faster by stimulating blood circulation and breaking apart the clumped up blood cells that make up the bruise. The body can then remove these smaller clumps easier. It may hurt a bit, especially if the bruised area is still tender, but it should help the bruise disappear faster.
Redditor discomfiture used a tube of lip balm and was able to significantly lighten the color of her black eye in a couple of hours. She alternated between applying pressure using the cap and applying ice to reduce the swelling (a frozen spoon also works well in place of the ice).
You don't need to use a tube of lip balm, though. You can use all sorts of different items to do so, like a comb or toothbrush—or try a facia brush. Apply pressure and brush over the surface of the bruise in a circular motion. Follow or alternate with ice to reduce the swelling.
Eating foods that are high in vitamin C can "help the body reabsorb the collected blood more effectively" and thicken the walls of the blood vessels, helping the bruise heal faster. Stock up on citrus fruits, strawberries, peppers, and dark greens.
Not big on fruits and veggies? Just take a Vitamin C supplement instead.
Pineapple and papaya both have high levels of vitamin C, but they also contain an enzyme called bromelain that helps break down blood clots and reduce swelling. You won't be able to get enough just by eating the fruit or drinking its juice, but taking a supplement of 200-400 milligrams can help make that bruise disappear faster.
There's no scientific evidence to support it, but some people also swear by making a mask of the fruit pulp and applying it directly to a black eye. Just think of it as a fruit facial and imagine you're getting pampered at a spa.
Hot peppers contain a substance called capsaicin that can help reduce the pain and visibility of bruises. An ancient remedy used in China and Taiwan is to mix one part ground cayenne pepper with five parts of a carrier, like melted Vaseline, and apply it to the bruise.
There are many many lotions and potions out there that claim to heal or reduce the look of bruising. So what actually works?
A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology in 2010 showed that a solution containing at least 20% arnica or at least at least 5% vitamin K could improve the appearance of bruises. When analyzed at two weeks, bruises treated with arnica or vitamin K improved more than those treated with the other treatments tested, which included white petroleum and a solution of 1% vitamin K and 0·3% retinol. Other studies have struggled to show effectiveness of arnica, but it could be related to a dose used in the study.
Got any other clever home remedies for getting rid of black eyes and bruises? Share them with us in the comments below.