In the gym or dojo the appearance of a shiner is not typically anything to get excited about. But for those who have a day job that may require constant explanation of the injury it may be a good idea to make it the least obvious possible.
Black eyes come with the territory when you are a combat sports competitor. Weather they are from an accidental knee-to-face during Jiu Jitsu practice, or evidence of a rough sparring session, they are all similar in appearance.
These are 10 of the most common remedies to reduce the appearance and longevity of a black eye.
1. Ice Pack
The first line of defense is a to apply something cold to the affected area. An ice pack or end-swell is ideal, but a bag of peas or a frozen steak will work too. Wrap your frozen item in a cloth so it is not directly in contact with the skin. The ice assists in constricting the blood vessels to reduce internal bleeding which causes the bruising and swelling. This should be done as soon as possible after the injury occurs for maximum effectiveness. The ice pack should be applied for 10-20 minute and repeated several times during the first 48 hours.
2. Warm Compress
Bring on the heat. After 24-48 hours of icing the black eye it is time for a warm compress. This serves accelerate the healing process by increasing blood flow to the tissue around the eye. The easiest way to do this is to dip a clean cloth in warm water. Ring out the cloth and place it on the bruised area. Warm is good. Hot is bad. At this point it is also appropriate to apply pressure and movement to increase circulation and break up the dried blood under the skin.
3. Head Elevation
This may sound funny because the head is obviously elevated most of the time. It is important to mention, though that the blood will drain largely according to the position of the head. This means that if the injury is on the right eye and you sleep with your left side on the pillow, the blood will likely pool toward your nose. In the first 24 hours after the injury try to keep your head higher than your body, which may require an additional pillow. Also, try not to look down a lot. If you work mainly in a seated position you may want to lower your chair or raise whatever you are working on.
4. Vitamin C
The walls of the blood vessels are strengthened by vitamin C. The breakdown in collagen in blood vessels is what causes bleeding, but this collagen is produced by vitamin C. Vitamin C supplements are readily available at virtually all grocery or drug stores. Eating vitamin C rich foods is also a way to get the proper amount to assist in recovery.
List of Foods High in Vitamin C
- Indian Gooseberries
- Chili peppers
- Red and green bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
Pineapple and papaya are two fruits that naturally carry higher levels of bromelain. Some doctors recommend bromelain enzyme supplements post-surgery because of its ability to reduce swelling. The pulp of the fruit could also be applied topically, thought bromelain can be found in tablet form.
Arnica is an herb that can also has anti-inflammatory properties. It works by stimulating white blood cells that fight infections. They also help to eliminate foreign bodies from the system. This includes blood and fluid trapped under the skin. Arnica comes in multiple forms including tablets, ointment, tincture and oil, amongst others.
7. Comfrey Root
Another helpful herb is comfrey root extract. It is believed to stimulate cell growth and skin repair using the small molecule allantoin. It should only be used topically according to the United States Food and Drug Administration and no more than once a day.
8. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel has a number of uses and healing bruises is one of them. The bark, leaves and twigs are high in tannins, which can temporarily tighten and soothe inflamed veins. Most herbs it is available in a number of forms that can be found at most pharmacies including lotions, oils and even suppositories (not recommended for black eyes). Oil is probably the most appropriate option.
9. Cayenne Pepper
The Chinese are known for interesting and often effective medical advice. One traditional black eye remedy is the use of cayenne pepper. Capsaicin is a compound found in peppers that helps to reduce pain and the appearance of bruises. The most common way to apply the pepper is to use a 1-5 ratio of cayenne pepper to melted Vaseline (which all fighters should have on hand for all sparring sessions to help avoid these situations). Leave the mixture on the skin for about 30 minutes and be very careful not to get it in the eye. This can be done 1-2 times a day.
Potatoes contain certain enzymes that help break up the dried blood from under the skin and reduce swelling. The best ways to apply the enzyme to the eye is by either pressing a cold slice of raw potato to the skin or using potato juice. Grated potato will work as well.