Uncle John knows pretty much everything—and if he doesn’t, he heads his massive research library, or puts one of his many associates on the case. So go ahead: In the comments below, ask Uncle John anything. (And if we answer your question sometime, we’ll send you a free book!)
Does putting a steak on a black eye really help? If so, why?
Have you ever gotten a black eye, or a “shiner”? (If you have, sorry.) Did you or your mom put a cold, floppy steak on it to make the swelling go down? It’s one of those old folk remedies everybody knows about, and you see in movies and on TV shows, but does it really work? Or is it just a waste of a perfectly good—and quite expensive—ribeye?
A black eye or periorbital hematoma occurs when a minor, blunt trauma to the eye area causes blood to gather around the eye socket, which is otherwise mostly empty. As it fills in with blood, pigment is released, too, which colors the skin around the eye, like a bruise. The bruise hurts a little, but not as much as the swelling.
While putting a steak on it isn’t any kind of “official” remedy, nor has it been studied extensively, it’s believed that the steak draws out the accumulation of fluid. That, in turn, reduces the swelling associated with the black eye. Besides, if the steak is cold (do not use a warm steak hot off the grill, obviously, even one cooked rare!) it works like a soothing, cold compress that can bend to fit the shape of your face. One other element: As the steak slowly decomposes at room temperature, it releases protease, which may break up clots and hurry up the healing process.