So you had a great night with your partner last night and got a bit carried away. You wake up, get ready for work and see a big, red hickey on your neck. While it’s a nice feeling to have a memory of a steamy night, it’s not something you want to share with everyone around, especially at work or a family dinner.
Hickies are a kind of a hematoma, commonly known as bruises that occur when the blood vessels get torn and he blood flows out of them and accumulates under the skin. Since it’s caused by gentle physical stimulation of the skin (to be more precise, by sucking, biting and aggressive kissing), it only affects the superficial layers of the skin and the blood released from blood vessels becomes very prominent, forming a red mark that cannot be mistaken for a regular bruise, which is normally light brown or yellow coloured, depending on the stage of the healing process.
Hickey is not a condition that can be healed with a quick fix. Just like other types of bruises, it comes off on its own within a week or two without any treatment, as the body reabsorbs the blood. However, if you need a quick solution to brighten the affected skin, we give you some home remedies to do it.
How to get rid of a hickey
First and foremost, give your neck a break. If you plan on another session of fun tonight, let your partner know that you don’t want him/her to caress your neck. The last thing you want to do is to make the hickey even darker and more difficult to heal.
Ice, Ice Baby
Think of the hickey as of a regular bruise. What do you do first when you get injured? Obviously, you put an ice pack on the skin. Ice reduces the swelling and relieves the pain and immediately makes the hickey less visible. Remember not to let ice come in a direct contact with the skin as it may cause a frostbite. Wrap the ice in a clean cloth and apply on the neck or another area of the skin where you have a hickey. If you don’t have ice, you can use a bag of frozen peas or other vegetables. Alternatively, chill a few metal spoons in the refrigerator for 10 minutes and press gently one cold spoon against the affected area. When the spoon warms up, take another one. Just make sure you don’t rub the skin as it can make the hickey even darker.
While low temperature is helpful in the first phase of healing because it shrinks up the blood vessels, after two or three days you should switch to hot compresses in order to open up the healthy blood vessels that need to absorb the blood accumulated in the skin tissue. Soak a clean cloth in hot water, wring it and put it on the hickey for 20 minutes. Make sure it’s not too hot so that you don’t burn your skin, but warm it up again if it cools down during the treatment. If you want a really quick and less messy solution to apply heat to your hickey, you can use a special heat patch that stays warm for longer or switch on your hairdryer and direct the stream of hot air on the affected skin.
Alcohol soothes not only the nerves but also the skin and can be used to reduce the appearance of fresh red hickeys. Additionally, it has antiseptic properties. Alcohol can help you get rid of the hickey but only if you start using it within a few hours of the moment the hickey occurred. Soak a cotton ball in alcohol and rub it gently on the hickey. Don’t press too hard as it may worsen the symptoms. Repeat the process a few times a day and always remember to apply a moisturizer after the treatment since alcohol dehydrates the skin and skipping the moisturising part will make it irritated.
Bananas are a popular ingredient of various face masks since they nourish and brighten the skin. In order to boost the healing of the hickey, you can either mash half a banana and apply it to the skin for 20 minutes or simply cut a piece of banana peel (make it slightly larger than the hickey) and leave it on the affected skin for half an hour. Repeat the process as many time as you can throughout the day in order to get faster results.
Due to the high level of vitamin C, citrus juices speed up the process of healing the bruises and lighten the skin. Drinking orange juice may be highly beneficial for the process of skin healing when you have a hickey. You can also boost the skin rejuvenation process by dabbing lemon, lime or orange juice on your skin. If you do it three to four times a day, you will notice a significant improvement in the appearance of the hickey.
Peppermint and Mint Toothpaste
Peppermint is widely used in supplements and products that improve blood circulation. The best form of peppermint that you can use on your skin to heal a hickey is peppermint oil applied directly to it. If you don’t have it and want to get results fast, use some mint toothpaste. Apply a small amount of peppermint oil or mint toothpaste on the area of your skin where the hickey occurred and wait until the tingling sensation goes away. Rinse the product with lukewarm water or remove it with a cotton bud. Just make sure you don’t rub it or press it too much. This treatment is gentle on the skin but only if you wash the toothpaste or the oil off after just a few minutes. If you keep it on for too long or if you repeat the treatment more than two times a day, it can cause irritation. Hickeys usually occur on skin areas that are exceptionally sensitive so the treatment you apply should be extra gentle.
Toothpaste is not the only oral care product that may come handy in healing a hickey. You can use a toothbrush to reduce the concentration of blood in the skin tissue. A stiff-bristled toothbrush would be the best for this purpose. Use it to press gently against the hickey and spread the blood accumulated in this spot. This procedure will speed up the process of blood absorption and eventually make the hickey disappear faster. Finish off the treatment with applying a cold compress in order to soothe any possible swelling.
Vitamin C and K
You need vitamin C to keep the blood vessel walls strong and vitamin K to be less prone to bruises. That’s why it’s very important that you include those vitamins in your diet or take vitamin C and K supplements. Some of the foods that are rich in vitamin K are spinach, kale, liver and eggs. Vitamin C can be found in high amounts in citrus fruits, raspberries, strawberries and sweet potatoes.
Witch hazel is used for brightening blemishes and may help lighten the skin with blood accumulated just under the skin surface. You can use it in the form of liquid and simply dab it onto the affected skin with a cotton ball or make a paste of witch hazel powder and water that you will apply twice a day to the hickey. Don’t keep the witch hazel paste on for too long as it may cause skin irritation. Rinse it off after 10 minutes and apply a moisturizing cream or jojoba oil on the treated area. Alternatively, you can buy witch hazel cream in a pharmacy and apply it twice a day to the hickey. After three days of witch hazel treatment, the hickey will be barely visible.
Arnica cream or gel can also help you heal the skin area where the hickey occurred. It is widely available in pharmacies and healthy food stores and it’s a very popular product used to clear out bruises on the skin. Arnica not only soothes the pain but also enhances the process of regeneration of the broken blood vessels. It isn’t, however, advised to take arnica pills, unless prescribed by the doctor. Research shows that they may increase the blood pressure and cause heart damage.
If you have the hickey on your neck, you should put an extra pillow under your head in order to keep it above the level of your heart. This prevents blood from being pumped strongly into the affected area and reduces the redness of the skin. If the hickey is on your leg, put a pillow or a folded blanket under your legs and try to sleep in this position, It might not be the most comfortable, but will definitely improve the appearance of the hickey.
If you smoke or use tobacco products, try to quit or reduce smoking during the period of hickey treatment. Smoking impairs blood circulation and slows down the skin healing process significantly. It might be difficult, but remember that with every cigarette you decide not to light up, you get one step closer to healing the dark hickey.
If the area with the hickey seems extraordinarily swollen or simply if it causes pain, take ibuprofen in order to relieve the pain and reduce the inflammation.
How to camouflage the hickey
All of the home remedies to get rid of the hickey described above are very effective and speed up the healing process, but you should be aware that no home, pharmaceutical or medical treatment can remove the hickey instantly. If a hickey is not something acceptable in your environment, e.g. at work or if you simply don’t feel comfortable exposing it, try to hide it for the first two to three days, while it’s still highly visible.
Try covering makeup. There are hundreds of products on the market that are designed to cover blemishes and imperfections. The thicker the product is, the better coverage it provides. For a dark red hickey choose an apricot-colored concealer. You might have to apply two or three layers to cover the hickey well, but it should work. Don’t forget to blend it on the surrounding skin so that the makeup looks natural. Otherwise, it will draw attention just like the hickey would.
A roll-neck top should instantly solve the problem of the hickey visibility as it covers at least half of the neck. If a hickey accident happens to you in the summertime and wearing a roll neck is not an option, try a scarf, preferably made of a light, breathing fabric so that you don’t feel tempted to take it off in the middle of a hot, sunny day.
If you have long hair and the hickey is on the side or the back of your neck, then just wear your hair down for w few days, until the skin heals completely. If you are one of those people who constantly play with their hair, try to control yourself so that you don’t accidentally uncover the embarrassing hickey.
Should I see the doctor?
As we said above, hickeys heal on their own and normally don’t require medical intervention. It isn’t common for patients to come to the doctor in search of help related to a hickey. They either don’t feel it needs consultation or feel embarrassed about it. Remember, however, that if you notice anything unusual about your hickey, it is more than recommendable that you seek medical advice. If it happens that the hickey doesn’t go off for more than two weeks, you might want to contact your doctor as it can be a sign of blood circulation malfunction.