A hickey, which is also known as a ‘love bite’ or a more sedate ‘kiss mark’, tends to occur after a passionate physical exchange between lovers. It may happen to you if your lover kisses or bites on your skin a little too hard. Hickeys can appear anywhere your lover chooses to appreciate a little too passionately, the most common area being the neck and the breasts. However, the science behind the formation of the hickey is not as romantic.
Hickeys are formed when blood capillaries are broken and the escaped blood pools under the skin, making it appear red or purple. It tends to look like a small bruise, which may be circular or oval in shape. The shape is distinctive enough, which would make it really hard to explain it away as an accident. The affected area may turn brown as the hickey heals.
How Long to Hickeys Last?
Hickeys are not permanent by any stretch of the imagination and even if they are left completely untreated, they will disappear in anywhere between 5 to 12 days. However, in certain cases hickeys may last a lot longer. The duration as to how long a hickey may last is dependent on the following factors:
- Severity: Common sense suggests that the amount of time a hickey will take to heal will be directly proportional to the number of blood capillaries that were damaged to begin with.
- Personal Physiology: There is a very popular saying that states ‘everyone is wired a bit differently’. Hence some people may heal faster than others. It could be due to a wide variety of factors, such as a person’s complexion, physiology and nutritional balance. The external environment may play a role as well!
Home Remedies to Remove Hickeys
Some choose to flaunt their hickeys as physical proof of their conquest. However, they may be inappropriate in several social situations, such as if you were about to meet the parents of your significant other, or if you are due to appear for a job interview. You need not fret as there are several home remedies that can help you out in such a scenario.
There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests that using a toothbrush may either get rid of the hickey, or it may spread it in such a way that it would be far less noticeable.
You should simply take a strong-bristled toothbrush (preferably new) and gently massage the affected area for about 15 minutes. The rationale behind this is that massaging the area will improve circulation, which will in turn help dissipate the blood that has pooled in the area.
It is suggested that one should use this remedy in conjunction with the cold compress.
- Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is effective for treating hickeys right after you receive them because of the following reasons:
- It is a natural disinfectant, which can help protect the area from secondary infections.
- It is an emollient, which can help soothe the pain, if any.
- It cools the skin when it comes in contact with it. Hence it can help get rid of the hickey in almost the same way that a cold compress would.
One can simply pour some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and apply it several times during the course of the day. Please note that rubbing alcohol is also an astringent, hence it can leave your skin feeling extremely dry after application. Hence it is recommended that you moisturize the area after you apply the rubbing alcohol. We would recommend using cocoa butter or Aloe Vera for this, which are effective home remedies for hickeys by their own right, as we will explain later in this article.
- Cold Compress (The Best Way)
This is one of the most common cited home remedy to remove hickeys, probably because it is the most effective. The scientific reasoning behind the same is pretty impeccable as well!
The rationale is that the extreme cold from a cold compress will shrink the blood capillaries, which will in turn stop leaking blood under the skin. Ice is also known as a natural inflammatory, because it will constrict the blood vessels, which will help relieve the swelling and the pain.
To apply the cold compress you can use a traditional ice pack, a bag of frozen vegetables or even wrap around a few ice cubes in a washcloth. Some even take a spoon, put it in the freezer for about ten minutes and then wrap it with a piece of cloth and apply that instead. Irrespective of the method you choose, please make sure that you apply the treatment for only 10 – 20 minutes at a time. There is no limit to the number of times you may apply the cold compress during the course of the day.
While applying this treatment, please make sure that the ice is never in direct contact with your skin, as it may cause some permanent damage.
- Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is a natural moisturizer with anti-inflammatory and soothing properties, which can help expedite the healing of a hickey. Aloe Vera gel can be applied on the affected area throughout the course of the day and is at its most effective when its usage is combined with that of rubbing alcohol.
It is best if you source your Aloe Vera gel directly from the leaf of an aloe plant. Simply pluck a leaf and chop off the rinds to take the leaf apart. Then scrape the natural Aloe Vera gel with the help of a cotton swab and apply it on the affected area.
If you cannot get hold of an Aloe Vera plant, the next best thing would be a bottle of organic Aloe Vera gel, which should be available at your local pharmacy.
- Small Cylindrical Objects
Using a small cylindrical object like a pen-cap, a lipstick cover or even a test tube can help alleviate hickeys. The logic behind this treatment is pretty much the same as that behind using a toothbrush, which is that it would dissipate the spooled blood, to make the hickey less noticeable, if not eliminate it completely.
You can apply this treatment with the help of the following steps:
- Place the cylindrical object directly on top of the hickey.
- Apply some gentle pressure. ‘Gentle’ is the operative word here. If the pressure is too much, then it can actually make the hickey worse!
- With the pressure still on, gently twist the object for a couple of seconds.
- Bring the object back to the initial position, while maintaining the pressure.
- Release the pressure.
The above process should be repeated for about 15 minutes.
- Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil contains menthol, which can help hickeys heal because of the following reasons:
- It heals the broken capillaries.
- It improves circulation, hence it will help dissipate the accumulated blood from the affected area.
Simply pour a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil and gently massage the affected area with it. You should feel a minor stinging sensation, which should go away in a couple of minutes. If the stinging sensation seems to bit too uncomfortable, then you can dilute it with a carrier oil, such as olive oil.
If you cannot get hold of peppermint essential oil, then you can use Vicks Vaporub or even some peppermint toothpaste instead.
- Banana Peel
Although it is not commonly known, but a banana peel is rich in Vitamin K, which can help a hickey heal pretty fast, as we will explain later in this article. Simply cut a piece of peel and place it on the hickey for about thirty minutes with the help of gauze and medical tapes. This process can be repeated for up to three times every day.
- Warm Compress
Earlier, we had mentioned a cold compress as an effective treatment for hickeys. The fact that we are mentioning warm compresses as a useful remedy as well does not mean that we are contradicting ourselves.
As stated earlier, a cold compress should be applied as soon as you receive a hickey, as it will constrict the blood capillaries to prevent the bleeding and the pooling of the blood. However, a warm compress should be applied on hickeys that are at least a few hours old. This is because after the capillaries have healed, a warm compress will dilate your blood vessels, which will allow the pooled blood to leave the affected area.
Simply immerse a washcloth in warmer than lukewarm water and then squeeze as much of the water out of the washcloth as you possibly can. Then gently dab on the affected area with the warm, damp washcloth.
Make sure that the water is not boiling or even too hot to touch. This is because extreme temperatures will damage your skin, which will in turn make your hickey far more prominent.
- Cocoa Butter
Cocoa butter is an effective moisturizer and it helps in tissue regeneration as well. Thus, it can be really effective when it comes to treating a hickey. Simply apply some cocoa butter on the affected area and massage gently several times during the course of the day.
For best results, the cocoa butter should be applied right after the application of a warm compress or rubbing alcohol.
OTC Products to Get Rid of Hickeys
If the home remedies fail to provide you with satisfactory results, your local pharmacist will have several over the counter treatments that you can make use of. The following are purported to be the most effective.
- Vitamin K Lotions
Vitamin K helps the blood clot. This means that it can help heal the capillaries, which would stop the leaking and the accumulation of the blood under the skin. Massaging the affected area repeatedly with a Vitamin K lotion may be the fastest way to remove a hickey.
Taking oral doses of Vitamin K supplements can expedite the healing as well!
- Arnica Ointment
Ointment created from the extracts of the Arnica plant has been used to treat bruises for several decades. As mentioned already, hickeys are a type of a bruise as well, hence they too can be effectively treated with Arnica! It works almost the same way that the Vitamin K lotion does, that is it heals the damaged capillaries. Arnica also contains anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce the swelling as well. This treatment is highly recommended for those suffering from severe hickeys!
- Eye Drops
If your eyes are itchy and bloodshot, you usually treat them with eye drops. The itchiness is caused by inflamed capillaries in your eye, which the eye drops can soothe and heal. Similarly, eye drops can heal the inflamed capillaries in your hickey as well.
Pour a few drops of your eye drop on the affected area and gently massage in a circular pattern with your forefinger. The eye drop will heal the capillaries and the massaging motion will help dissipate the blood that has pooled in the area.
When Nothing Works or if you are in a Hurry!
All of the treatments mentioned in this article works, provided you allow for an adequate amount of time. None of the treatments mentioned above is a proverbial magic wand, which will make a hickey disappear at the drop of a hat. However, certain exigencies such as a job interview will not wait. In such a case, you can use the following tricks to hide the hickey.
- Conceal the Hickey
Your make-up kit can not only make you look especially alluring, but can also help you deal with the aftermath of a passionate encounter. There are a couple of ways you can make a hickey temporary disappear with the power of make-up.
Use a thin brush to apply yellow corrector on the inside of the hickey and they green corrector on the outside of the hickey. Then apply some concealer which is one shade lighter than your skin tone all over the hickey to temporarily cover up the evidence of your amorous encounter.
Alternately you can put some face powder on the hickey and then apply a concealer that matches your skin tone.
- Clothing and Personal Style
During winter or rainy seasons, you can use your clothing to conceal the hickey. Turtlenecks, jackets and scarves are all excellent options for hiding a hickey on the neck. If you have long hair you can always style it in such a way that it conceals the hickey. You can also use jewelry such as necklaces that will help conceal the area.