What Is a Hickey?
A hickey is a red or purple mark on the skin. It forms when you or someone else -- a friend or partner -- sucks on your arm, neck, or anywhere else on your body. The pressure and suction break small blood vessels just under the surface of the skin. The blood that leaks out of those vessels leaves a telltale mark that others may comment on. If you get a hickey, you’ll probably want to hide it while you try to get rid of it fast.
Most hickeys clear up on their own without any action from you. But here are some suggestions that might help speed up the process. There’s no hard evidence these suggestions will always work. But some people who have tried them say they do help, if only slightly.
How to Treat a Hickey
A hickey is basically the same thing as a bruise even though you didn’t get it in quite the same way. That means anything that helps with a bruise should help with a hickey.
Basic first aid for a bruise includes:
- Ice: For the first couple days, ice the bruised area a few times each day. Leave the ice on for 10 or 20 minutes at a time. Put a cloth or towel around the ice pack to avoid direct contact with the ice.
- Heat: After two days of icing, switch to a warm compress to soothe the area a few times a day.
- Rest: If the hickey is on your neck, there’s probably nothing special you need to do to rest it. But leaving it alone should help.
Assuming your skin is intact, there’s no need to bandage a hickey. But, you might want to use a scarf or turtleneck to cover it up while the blemish fades.
Some Hickey Remedies to Try
If you really want to make that hickey go away, there are some other home remedies you could try. It’s not clear how well they work at making blotches heal faster. But, they probably won’t hurt anything either.
- Arnica is an herbal remedy you rub onto your skin. You can buy a tube of gel or cream at the drugstore. Some evidence suggests it can make a bruise go away faster.
- Bromelain is an enzyme from pineapples. When you swallow it or put it on your skin, it may speed healing.
- Hydrogen peroxide gel might fade that purple discoloration, according to one case report.
- Espsom salt is a common bath soak ingredient. It may help with bruises.
- Vitamin K8 is an ingredient in some skin care products. It may speed healing.
- Evening primrose is a plant that Native Americans used for bruising. Some people use the oil for a skin condition called eczema, but there’s not enough evidence to show it works for any condition.
- Bitter orange comes in an oil that some people use for bruising.
How Long Do Hickeys Last?
Nothing you do will make that hickey go away immediately. But, even if you don’t do anything special, a hickey should fade and then go away within a couple of weeks. You should see the color change from red or purple to greenish yellow and then light brown. Gradually, the discoloration will fade until it disappears. In the meantime, you could use some makeup to make it less noticeable.
Hickeys rarely cause any serious problems. But, if it isn’t getting better, let someone know and consider seeing a doctor.
Kidshealth.org: “What’s a Bruise?”
Cleveland Clinic: “Bruises.”
Mayo Clinic: “Bruise: First Aid,” “Magnesium Sulfate.”
Dermatologic Surgery: “Comparative study on bruise reduction treatments after bruise induction using the pulsed dye laser,” “Is There a Role for Arnica and Bromelain in Prevention of Post-Procedure Ecchymosis or Edema? A Systematic Review of the Literature.”
The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology: “The Management of Bruising Following Nonsurgical Cosmetic Treatment,” “Peroxide as a Novel Treatment for Ecchymoses.”
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Evening Primrose Oil,” “Bitter Orange.”
Ugeskr Laeger: “Love bite on the neck resulted in an embolic stroke.”