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I've seen in numerous movies that after a person gets beaten up in a fight they place a chunk of raw meat on their face. I found this link making reference to the practice and this one claiming it's a myth (though I have no regards for the validity of the website). My questions are:

  1. Was there ever a time when applying raw meat to some sort of external injury was common?
  2. What type of meat was used?
  3. According to current medical research is it safe to use this treatment?
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The answer to your question title is no.

The act of putting raw meat on a bruise comes from Hollywood and cartoons, and it usually is adopted when you have a black eye, rather than just any bruise. But what works is the cold factor of the frozen meat and not the meat itself, since cold naturally constrains blood vessels and helps reducing the swelling.

In fact, using meat could even be dangerous because you might cause an infection.

This is always strongly discouraged, for example on the page for First Aid on About.com:

Never put raw meat on a black eye. There is a first aid myth that putting steak on a black eye will help it heal faster. It will not. In fact, putting raw meat on a black eye is more likely to cause an infection (see E coli).

And also on Geteyesmart1:

[...] Despite what you see in movies or on television, you should never put a raw steak or other raw meat on a black eye. The bacteria on raw meat poses a high risk of infection, and this method of treating a black eye has no scientific basis.

A frozen bag of veggies would likely be cleaner than raw meat, but an even better solution would be using ice packs for medical use or cold compresses.


1: American Academy of Ophthalmology Launches Expanded GetEyeSmart.org, a Trusted Source for Eye Health Information. Source

  • Where does the myth come from, though? I think this predates Hollywood. – Konrad Rudolph Mar 20 '14 at 9:39
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    @Chad Aren't the already available sources enough? They refer to the same thing basically. – Alenanno Mar 20 '14 at 19:49
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    @Celeritas The link at the bottom is there to show that the site Geteyesmart is reliable enough since the AAO supports it. – Alenanno Mar 20 '14 at 22:04
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    @Alenanno - I agree that site is enough to answer the question. You could simply remove everything after it and have a valid answer. Though if you can support those last two claims its a much better and stronger answer – Chad Mar 20 '14 at 22:09
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    Another possible reason for meat (versus something else from the fridge): It is soft and can form comfortably around a wound and not cause any extra pain from pressure. On the other hand, frozen meat is hard while (a bag of) frozen peas is soft. (That was actually my first thought on seeing the question -- after "no, don't do it" that is.) – Martin F Mar 25 '14 at 17:54

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