May 26th, 2015 by Michael Minehan
“C’mon bro, taking pain is easy! You just have to imagine that every bruise is a hickey from the universe. And -everybody- wants to get with the universe…” - Finn The Human (Adventure Time)
Last weekend, I kissed a girl at a party. In response, she yanked my head sideways by the hair, clamped her vampire-teeth onto my neck and presumably tried to suck my soul out through it. My memory of the weekend is limited mostly to a Sunday morning hangover and I may have mismatched some of the details, but the point is that I had to face my boss at work on Monday with a large, obnoxious love-bite. As such, I decided to learn more about hickeys, how they are caused and how to get rid of them in the future.
What Is A Hickey?
Hickey’s are basically just bruises, which are caused when capillaries (really small blood vessels) are broken, letting blood seep out to pool under the skin. The act of sucking or aggressively kissing somebody will rupture such vessels, causing a hickey to appear. No longer connected to your circulatory system, the blood settled under your skin is no longer receiving oxygen and will turn from a red colour to a deep purple or brown colour as it dries out.
How Long Does A Hickey Last?
After the ruptured capillaries have healed, they will begin to reabsorb the remaining blood settled under your skin. Left alone, this process can take from 1-2 weeks, depending on the damage dealt by the assailant and the unique physical condition of the victim.
Using the methods listed in this article, however, your hickey can be removed ahead of schedule. This can take from a couple of hours to a couple of days, depending once again on the severity of the bruising and your particular circulatory system. Before opting for this, however, you’ll need to ask yourself…
Do You Want To Get Rid Of The Hickey?
This may seem hard to believe for somebody who found this article by searching for solutions to remove a hickey, but there are many people out there who wear theirs with pride. Some people are such exhibitionists, they’ll actually ask to receive a hickey, just to show it off.
I once went to high school to find a classmate (who wasn’t known to have had much success with the ladies), strutting through the halls with a bounce in his step, a beaming smile on his face and a painful looking purple splotch that ran from just below his left ear to just above his left nipple. He asked me to guess what it was, so I pretended I couldn’t see it. I wasn’t always the friendliest teenager.
This classmate wanted me to notice his hickey because some consider such a mark to be a trophy, culturally symbolic of sexual possession or achievement. He wanted me to recognize that he had somehow convinced another person to rupture his blood vessels with her mouth. For someone who prefers to keep his sexual endeavors private, like myself, hickeys are a source of annoyance. To this classmate, it was a source of confidence and validation.
In any case, hickeys are equally fun to give and fun to receive. To people who don’t care what others think of them and have no need to separate their public life from their private life, hickeys can serve as a positive reminder of a beautiful moment shared between two weird, bruise-loving vampires. If you’ve done the dandy deed, you might want to re-think your current situation with this in mind and decide what a hickey actually means to you before proceeding.
Kill It With Ice
The first method for getting rid of a hickey involves reducing the blood flow to the bruise which will continually leak into the pool under your skin until the ruptured capillary vessels have healed. This will need to be done quite soon after receiving the hickey, as the longer you wait, the longer you’ve left blood leaking into the pool and the less effective this method will be.
Apply ice directly onto your body and it can stick to your skin, even causing frostbite. If that’s your jam, have fun, but to some this would prove counterproductive. Alternatively, wrap ice, an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas in a paper towel and you’re golden. Simply press it onto the affected area and leave it for fifteen minutes. Repeat as necessary, but leave at least a fifteen minute break to let your skin warm up between each application.
Kill It With Heat
If your hickey is still hanging around after two days, it’s safe to assume that the capillaries have healed and that the remaining splotch is just a collection of dried blood left pooled under your skin. As your blood runs through this area, this pool will be slowly absorbed into the flow. We can, however, speed up this process by applying heat, which will increase the blood flow to the area.
It is important not to apply heat before two days have passed, as increased blood flow to vessels that are still broken will flood the area and make your hickey even bigger. It’s also important not to apply too much heat to the area, because burns aren’t fun. Burns are far uglier than hickeys, are easily infected. take longer to heal and hurt like hell. To proceed with this method, take a warm cloth, a hot water bottle or a warm compress and apply it firmly to the area for fifteen minutes.
Side Note: Apparently, peppermint, toothpaste and other mint-like lotions will also cause increased blood-flow to an area of skin. Apply until it tingles, then leave it on until it stops tingling. Don’t overuse this method though, as it can cause irritation.
Kill It With Love, Bristles Or Spoons
As the body works to reabsorb the dry blood-pool into the circulatory system, you too can consciously aid in the process by breaking it up with physical contact. This should be done lightly, as being too rough with the skin is exactly what caused your hickey in the first place.
You can do this simply by moving the skin around with your fingers in the form of a gentle massage, or with objects such as a toothbrush, a coin (scraping outwardly from the center) or the butt of a pencil (twisting the skin around with the butt of a pencil is actually quite effective).
A very popular method of removing hickeys has always been the rubbing of the area with an icy spoon, as this works to break up the pool while slowing the blood flow with coldness at the same time. Simply stick a couple of spoons in the freezer for an hour and apply them one-by-one until they warm up.
Kill It With Vitamins Or Moisturizer
Vitamin K and Vitamin C are both helpful for getting rid of hickeys. Vitamin K prevents blood clots and can be found in brown rice, spinach, broccoli and Vitamin K enhanced lotions, creams and supplements. Vitamin C aids in skin reparation and can be found in oranges and those awesome little supplement tablets that taste like oranges.
Moisturizing hydrates your skin, soothing the area and promoting the growth of skin-tissue. The very act of applying moisturizer will massage the area as well as cooling it, engaging multiple hickey-eradication methods at the same time.
If All Else Fails
Look, sometimes hickeys are just stubborn things.
If you’ve exhausted all of these methods and still can’t get rid of your hickey, you may just want to hide it away, or ride it out. There are many ways to hide a hickey, such as wearing scarves and turtlenecks or by applying makeup. I, unfortunately, had no idea how to apply makeup and didn’t have any time to learn how to apply makeup
In my particular situation, I had to go to work, where I toil in a very hot factory and typically wear a singlet or loose shirt to keep from sweating. This meant that, as the bruise was fresh from the night before and I didn’t have time to implement any of these methods, I simply had to go to work with a hickey.
When somebody asked me what it was, I pretended I couldn’t see it. Others saw what I was doing and played along, messing with the poor man who desperately tried to convince me that he wasn’t just imagining it. I’m not always the friendliest co-worker.