What Are the Healing Stages of a Hickey?
An accidental byproduct of passion, an enduring marker, proof someone found you so attractive that their enthusiasm manifested physically onto your body and skin—these are all signs of a hickey.
Though temporal and fading like many other things in life, a hickey on your neck can be a little reminder or remembrance of a fun moment shared with a special someone; a time you were desired in earnest, a period of intimacy on a deep and primal level.
"Since a hickey occurs when someone kisses, bites or sucks on your neck for a very long time or with a lot of pressure, yes, it can hurt," said Chris Pleines, a dating expert from datingscout.com, based in Munich. "But what makes it feel good? It's the act of getting there, not the hickey itself. Scientifically, it can be pleasurable for some because our necks have so many nerve endings. It should be noted, however, that getting hickeys is not for everyone. It is still necessary to discuss your sexual preferences with your partner."
Nevertheless, those bruises on your neck can be embarrassing or unprofessional. Learn the stages of a hickey and how to help heal a hickey.
What causes a hickey to discolor the skin on your neck?
Technically, a hickey is an injury and, more specifically, a bruise. This isn't to say getting one necessarily hurts, but you may experience a mild sensation of pain mixed with pleasure, depending on your pain tolerance. Experiencing it firsthand is the best way to find out.
"The suction from biting or making out, aka sucking, causes broken blood vessels, resulting in the dark red or dark purple color seen in a hickey that eventually turns yellow before healing completely," said Ian Michael Crumm, an esthetician in New York City.
How long does it take for a hickey to go away?
How hickeys look vary from one person to another. Regardless, the body eventually naturally repairs the damaged blood vessels and reabsorbs the leaked blood, and the hickey slowly fades with time.
In general, it can endure anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks depending on the intensity and impact on the skin. Although there is no overnight method to get rid of a hickey, there are plenty of ways to accelerate the rate at which it fades away.
"Immediately after a hickey starts to form, ice the area," said Geeta Yadav, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Facet Dermatology in Toronto. "This will help restrict blood flow and inhibit the ability of blood to pool and cause discoloration. Using a topical treatment with arnica can also minimize bruising. If the hickey has already formed, use a warm compress to help facilitate blood flow and, hopefully, break down any clots that could have formed. You can also visit a dermatologist for treatment with a pulsed dye laser, which breaks down hemoglobin, the protein in blood cells, to help the discoloration fade."
'Immediately after a hickey starts to form, ice the area'
Since a hickey is a bruise, consistent care and monitoring are necessary.
"After 48 hours, applying a warm compress to increase blood flow can help speed up healing," Crumm explained. "Another key to ensuring that the hickey goes away promptly, typically one to two weeks, is to avoid harsh pressure—no picking or poking the area. Excess pressure could lead to scarring. Very light massage can increase blood flow to the area after the 48-hour time frame and help with healing, but only if it's gentle."
He added that applying a moisturizer with vitamin C can strengthen the skin tissue and boost collagen production.
How do you hide a hickey through all of its healing stages?
Fiona Taylor, the owner and lead artist of Faces by Fiona, a full-service hair and makeup company in Texas, and the owner of Beluxxia Beauty, also shared tips for care after treating the area. Using color-correcting methods helps cancel out and neutralize a hickey's color.
If it's still fresh, it could have a red, bluish or purple tone. On the other hand, it could be green or yellowish if it's an older one. To cancel out the color, she recommended using a correcting concealer in the color on the opposite side of the color wheel.
- Green neutralizes red/red neutralizes green
- Yellow neutralizes purple/purple neutralizes yellow
- Orange neutralizes blue
After neutralizing the hickey, she recommended setting it with a loose powder and then proceeding with a regular concealer. After blending the area and edges with foundation, she suggested setting it with powder again and using a setting spray to finish.
The bottom line
Now that you know how to get rid of a hickey (or at least better hide it during all of its healing stages), don't forget to always ask for consent. Not everyone enjoys being marked or is in the mood for it all the time.
However, as long as you and your partner are on the same page, giving and receiving hickeys on your neck or other body parts can become a meaningful gesture symbolizing your desire and love for each other.
Feel free to be creative and playful, and safely plant one not just on the neck but perhaps on the inner thigh, butt cheek or even the lower abdomen. These areas are typically hidden away from any probing eyes, so you might want to consider these spots in the near future.