What Is Ecchymosis?
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Ecchymosis and Eyelid Swelling - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Management

Published on Nov 30, 2022 and last reviewed on May 30, 2023   -  4 min read


Ecchymosis and associated swelling is a condition where the blood bleeds to the adjacent tissues due to damage to the blood vessels. Read below to know more.


The eyes are the sense organs that focus light on processing information for vision and maintaining balance and circadian rhythm. The eyes are covered with an eyelid covering, and eyes comprise layers like cornea, retina, iris, lens, choroid, and pupil. Injury to any one of these layers affects daily activities. A blow to the eye will result in several self-healing conditions or needing treatment.

What Is Ecchymosis?

Ecchymosis or otherwise called black eyes or raccoon eyes, or periorbital ecchymosis, is bruising of the eye due to an injury to the face where bleeding is seen beneath the layer of skin. Small blood vessels in the injured site will break and bleed into the adjacent tissues causing black eyes. Black eyes are also an indicator of skull fracture. The condition will take at least two weeks to normalize. This condition is usually seen following surgery, trauma to the soft tissue, or infection.

What Are the Causes of Ecchymosis and Eyelid Swelling?

  • Trauma or a Hit: The most common cause of ecchymoses and associated eyelid swelling is a hit to the face or the eye. The blood vessels present at the site of trauma break and start bleeding into the surrounding tissues causing black eyes. Black eyes are sometimes an indicator of a medical emergency like a skull fracture.

  • Surgical Procedures: It can also be seen as a post-surgical sign. A black eye can be seen after nasal surgery, facelift, and jaw surgeries.

  • Infection and Allergies: Infection and allergies can result in swelling of the eye and not black eyes.

What Are the Symptoms of Ecchymosis of the Eye?

Common symptoms of ecchymoses include,

  • Pain in and around the eye.

  • Tenderness of the injured region.

  • Swelling of the eye, where initially mild and becomes more swollen as the discoloration darkens, leading to difficulty in opening the eyes.

  • Blurred vision.

  • Red discoloration of the eye initially and turning into darker purple, green or black later.

The presence of severe head injury will show symptoms like,

The bruises could also be present because of bleeding conditions rarely. The symptoms include,

  • Long and heavy periods.

  • Bruises spots on the skin.

The swelling and bruise can spread down the cheeks or to the other eye.

What Are the Conditions Associated With Ecchymosis?

How to Diagnose Ecchymosis of the Eye?

  • To start with, the doctor will examine the patient's overall condition.

  • In the case of trauma caused by ecchymoses, the incident is thoroughly analyzed. In women, black eyes can also be due to domestic abuse, and if the patient is living in a safe place is verified.

  • The patient will be evaluated for bleeding and clotting blood disorders. The type of medications the patient is taking and family history of bleeding disorders is considered.

  • If a skull injury is suspected, the patient will be asked to go through a CT (computed tomography) scan to detect the fractures.

How to Manage Ecchymosis of the Eye?

The treatment for ecchymosis depends on the following factors:

  • Age of the patient.

  • The overall health of the patient.

  • Extend the injury.

  • The patient’s tolerance towards certain treatment procedures or medications.

In case of a minor injury, treatment is not required most of the time.

It will resolve with conservative treatment that includes,

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs for relieving pain.

  • Cold compression for 15 minutes every hour until the swelling gets resolved. After the swelling subsides, warm compression for a few days is recommended for the reabsorption of blood. Cold compression with frozen meat is practiced for black eyes. It is a strict no as it might contain harmful bacteria.

  • Vitamin C and K are also prescribed to promote healing.

  • Follow-up is mandatory to eliminate complications.

To recover from ecchymoses condition completely, things to avoid are,

  • Apply too much pressure and heat over the site of ecchymosis.

  • Involving in sports activities prone to new injuries.

When to See the Doctor?

If the black eye does not heal with conservative treatment and the following signs occur, immediate doctor's care is required.

  • Severe pain persists.

  • Presence of drainage of pus and redness.

  • Swelling does not subside even after a few days.

  • Major vision changes.

  • Bloodstains in the eye.

  • Inability to move the eyes at all.

  • If the condition is not associated with trauma.

  • Headache associated with nausea, vomiting, and dizziness after the injury.

Are There Any Ways to Prevent Ecchymosis?

Ecchymosis is usually caused by a trauma or injury to the eye. There are a number of measures to reduce the likelihood of a traumatic eye injury.

Some of these includes:

1) Wear goggles when involved in gardening, metalwork, or woodwork activities.

2) Make sure you wear a seat belt while driving. Both drivers and passengers should wear it.

3) Try keeping the areas where people walk clear of items such as cables, clutters, etc.

4) Wear protective gear while participating in activities that can increase the risk of injuries to the face, like boxing and martial arts.

5) Try fixing the rugs and carpets so that you do not skid over them.

What Are the Possible Complications of Ecchymosis of the Eye?

In a child, ecchymoses not induced by trauma is an early sign of myeloid leukemia.


Black eye or ecchymosis of the eye is easily manageable and does not require extensive surgical procedures. Proper first aid will reduce the risks associated with it significantly.

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Last reviewed at:
30 May 2023  -  4 min read




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