Periorbital Contusion (Black Eye) (Child)

A contusion is a bruise. A bruise around the eye is called a periorbital contusion. This is also known as a black eye. A black eye is often caused by a blow to the eye area. It's an injury to the skin around the eye, not to the eye itself.

Symptoms of a black eye include bruising, swelling, and pain. Your child’s eyelid may not open easily because of swelling.

Cool compresses or cold packs help reduce swelling. Bruising may take a while to heal. In some cases, the cause of the black eye can injure the eye, too. If the eye has also been injured, your child may need to wear an eye shield for a week or more.

Home care

The healthcare provider may prescribe medicines for pain and inflammation. Follow all instructions for giving these to your child.

General care

Here are suggestions for general home care: 

  • Apply a cold pack wrapped in a thin, dry cloth to the injury. Do this for up to 15 minutes every hour while your child is awake. This is to help relieve swelling. Continue for 1 to 2 days or as instructed.

  • Babies ages 9 to 11 months: As often as possible, hold your child with his or her head higher than the heart for the first day. This is to help ease swelling.

  • Children 12 months and up: Have your child rest with his or her head and shoulders raised on pillows for the first day or so. This is to help ease swelling.

  • Don’t let your child rub the injured eye.

  • Have your child rest or play quietly for a day or two. Make sure your child doesn’t play roughly. Don’t let your child play sports or run during this time.

  • Follow the instructions from your healthcare provider on how to use an eye shield.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s healthcare provider, or as advised.

Special note to parents

Healthcare providers are trained to see injuries such as this in young children as a sign of possible abuse. You may be asked questions about how your child was injured. Healthcare providers are required by law to ask you these questions. This is done to protect your child.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child's healthcare provider right away if any of these happen:

  • Vision problems, such as blurred vision

  • Bruising that spreads

  • Swelling or pain that doesn’t get better

  • Nausea or vomiting

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these happen:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Confusion

  • Extreme drowsiness or trouble awakening

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Seizure

  • Stiff neck

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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