Maybe after a romantic night, you've ended up with a hickey, also known as a love bite or kiss mark. These happen when tiny blood vessels under the skin break. If it's in a visible spot, it can make some people feel awkward. Like a bruise, hickeys usually fade by themselves. There are a few tricks that might help them go away faster. In this article, we'll introduce you to 7 tips on how to get rid of a hickey.
Hickeys happen when kissing, sucking, or biting the skin breaks tiny blood vessels, just like bruises.
Hickeys need time to heal. Usually, it takes about two weeks to go away on its own without doing anything special.
To heal bruises, some studies suggest using home remedies, cream-based products, and laser treatments.
What is a hickey?
Hickeys are bruises caused by skin-biting, sucking, or kissing that rupture the blood vessels. When the blood vessels break, the blood pools into the nearby tissues. The blood is trapped under the skin, leaving a bruise-like mark on the surface. A hickey can present anywhere on the body, though the neck is a common area. Hickeys are generally harmless, though they may feel tender or sore to the touch.
How long does a hickey last?
Similar to bruises, hickeys should go away on their own without medical attention in two weeks. The length of time can depend on the injury's size, location, and severity. You will notice a color change in the bruise's pigmentation as it heals.
For those with darker skin tones, fresh bruises will appear redder or have darker pigmentation. The bruise eventually turns blue, then green, then yellow, and finally goes away.
7 Tips to get rid of a hickey
While there is not quick fix to make a hickey go away, there are methods to try for a quicker recovery. Tips involve home remedies, drugstore creams, laser treatment, or hiding your hickey.
1. Ice and warm compress
Applying an ice pack to the affected area within 24 to 48 hours after an injury can help reduce swelling and alleviate pain. If you don't have an ice pack, use a cold spoon. It is a convenient size for hickeys and easy to hold.
Apply the ice pack or spoon for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day. After 48 hours, you can switch to warm compresses using a damp towel with warm (not burning) water.
2. Eating pineapple
Pineapple is the source of the enzyme bromelain. One of the enzyme's many properties is its anti-inflammatory properties. For soft-tissue injuries or inflammation, it is a suggested treatment method.
According to a clinical study released by the National Institutes of Health, boxers' bruises disappeared after four days when bromelain was administered. However, because more research is needed to fully understand the effects of the enzyme, studies on bromelain are inconclusive. Pineapple can be eaten or sliced and applied directly to the hickey. Remember that pineapple contains acid and can irritate skin that is too sensitive.
3. Vitamin C cream
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects the skin from harmful toxins and produces collagen. It aids in blood vessel development and repair.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that people with low vitamin C levels are more susceptible to bruising, even though there is little scientific evidence to support the idea that vitamin C can help promote a quicker healing response to bruising. Vitamin C-rich foods and drinks, as well as vitamin C cream, applied locally, may aid in the healing process and repair of damaged blood vessels.
4. Arnica cream
Arnica is a perennial plant that helps to reduce muscle pain and heal wounds. In a clinical study, one topical medication was randomly administered to healthy volunteers to be applied to their bruises twice a day for two weeks.
Researchers concluded that arnica ointment with a 20% concentration was more effective in reducing a bruise than other low-concentration agents. Yet, the same study identified that 5% vitamin K cream was more effective than arnica.
5. Vitamin K cream
Vitamin K is a type of fat-soluble vitamin that is best known for its role in blood clotting. Applying vitamin K cream may help reduce the severity of bruises and accelerate healing.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, participants who used vitamin K cream after laser treatment experienced less severe bruising compared to those who used the cream before treatment. Gently rubbing a small amount of cream twice daily on the hickey may aid in a faster recovery.
6. Pulse dye laser
With the use of light, pulse dye lasers (PDL) can help fade bruises, break down blood vessels, and lessen redness. In one study, PDL was applied to ten participants to help with their bruises.
Researchers found the average improvement after 24 hours of laser treatment to be 62 percent. Yet, the degree and cause of the bruise will determine how things develop. Even after one treatment of PDL, bruises do not entirely disappear. You may require another treatment session. Consult a dermatologist for additional advice.
7. Conceal the hickey
While this method won't accelerate the healing process, it can help disguise a hickey for a short period of time. To counteract the different stages of the bruise's color, you can use a color-correcting cream concealer. Then, use a concealer or foundation that matches your skin tone, and seal the look with translucent powder.
You can also change how you dress to hide your hickey. Go for collared shirts, turtlenecks, or hoodies. Wearing scarves for the time being is another easy and adaptable accessory.
Even though hickeys are typical during physical intimacy, being seen by others can be awkward and embarrassing. The key to treating a hickey effectively is to combine patience and time. However, you can try non-medicated treatment options, cream-based products, and pulse dye lasers to promote a quick recovery or cover with concealment methods.
What to avoid to prevent bruises from getting worse?
A fresh hickey is vulnerable during the first 24 to 48 hours. You want to be cautious in care to avoid making your hickey worse. Avoid strenuous activities such as exercising because this increases blood flow, and exposes the area to hot showers or hot tubs. Remember, you can use warm compresses after 48 hours.
How can I prevent a hickey?
Talking to your partner is the best approach to preventing hickeys from developing. Set clear boundaries and communicate each other's preferences before engaging in physical activity. Avoid areas where the hickey can be visible or where clothing cannot cover them.
Can I cover a hickey with a band-aid?
Yes, you can cover a hickey with a band-aid. However, this option may not be the most suitable method as it may draw attention, and not all hickeys are equivalent to the size of a band-aid. A better option would be to use makeup or clothing to conceal your hickey.
- Biomedical Reports. Potential role of bromelain in clinical and therapeutic applications.
- British Journal of Dermatology. Accelerated resolution of laser-induced bruising with topical 20% arnica: a rater blinded randomized controlled trial.
- Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The effects of topical vitamin K on bruising after laser treatment.
- JAMA Dermatology. A simple solution to the common problem of ecchymosis.
- J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. The Management of Bruising following Nonsurgical Cosmetic Treatment.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidance for Evaluating the Nutritional Status and Growth in Refugee Children During the Domestic Medical Screening Examination.