Why You Probably Shouldn't Use Raw Steak To Heal A Black Eye

You know how characters from television and movies sometimes treat their black eyes with cold, raw steaks? It hopefully goes without saying, but you shouldn't believe everything you see on TV or the big screen.

A black eye or "shiner," typically results from "blunt trauma" to the head or face that causes "bleeding beneath the thin eyelid skin," which typically presents on the surface in a "black and blue discoloration" (via WebMd). So how did a very real medical condition end up with such a very silly homemade remedy? 

It dates back to "Egypt in 1600 B.C.," according to A.M. Whale, former head of pharmacy of Livingstone Hospital in South Africa, who told Jet in 1966 that "the custom in those faraway days was to apply steak to the damaged eye, followed the next day by an application of honey." While the honey step clearly didn't make it through the ages, "The Doctors Book Of Home Remedies" also suggests that steak has been used for hundreds of years "to reduce swelling" associated with black eyes, but that the practice is akin to other since-debunked "wild and sundry treatments ... ranging from leeches to liver." 

While everything you hear about red meat's bad reputation certainly isn't true, using it (or honey, for that matter) to heal a black eye is one circumstance in which you should perhaps avoid it.

Raw meat carries an infection risk

OCLI, a world-renowned ophthalmology practice, definitively states that "putting a steak on a black eye does not help it heal" and furthermore "the raw meat could cause an infection." The practice contends that it's the coldness of the steak that keeps swelling down, so why not substitute an ice compress or a pack of frozen vegetables, both of which would be far less likely to carry the risk of infection.

Black eyes typically heal and disappear within a week or two, but in some cases they might involve more serious trauma such as a skull fracture. Bleeding in the eyes (hyphema), or any damage to the eyeball could be a sign of a severe problem and should be evaluated by your doctor, recommends WebMD

Regardless of a black eye's severity, consider that both medical and vision professionals caution against applying raw meat to your noodle as a potential treatment. Steak cravings just might be a real things, but steak as a healing tool is a dicey proposition. Use an ice pack instead and plop that tasty slab of beef on the grill where it belongs.