What Actually Helps Get Rid of a Hickey (and What Makes It Worse)

As with acne and angst, hickeys don’t necessarily go away after adolescence. Hickeys are derided as a teenage fad, but any adult with a healthy sex life knows only too well what it’s like to realize that you have an obscene bruise on your neck. And as adults, we need to know what’s true and what’s fiction when it comes to covering up your pesky hickeys. Here’s what you should do to deal with hickeys, and what you should avoid at all costs.

The best remedy is a warm compress.

First, a brief reminder of what we’re dealing with here: hickeys are damaged blood vessels, usually caused by, uh, suction , which then leads to bruising (hence the discoloration). While many bruises can last up to two weeks, hickeys are superficial bruises that should go away in a few days.

A warm compress is the most proven treatment for hickeys. Heat helps increase blood flow to the area, allowing your body to break down and then reabsorb the trapped blood, which makes the hickey visible, according to Insider . To apply a warm compress, try the following method suggested by the Cleveland Clinic :

  1. Fill a microwave-safe bowl with water and heat it in the microwave until it is warm. A good temperature is a little hotter than bath water, but far from boiling water.
  2. Put a clean rag into the water. Soak it for a few minutes, wring it out and apply it on the hickey. Let it stand until the rag has cooled to room temperature.
  1. Repetition. If you have two washcloths, you can wet one while applying the other to the hickey, turning them around so you don’t have to wait between applications. You may need to reheat the bowl of water several times.

Follow the steps above until you have a warm compress on the target area for a total of 15-20 minutes.

A cold spoon won’t hurt (but won’t help much either)

On the other hand, one of the most popular ways to get rid of a hickey is with an ice spoon. Unfortunately, with such a superficial bruise, the cold will not have much effect. There is no evidence that bruising will go away, although cold can soothe any inflammation in the area. The verdict is that a cold spoon won’t make your hickey go away, but it probably won’t make it worse either. A cool aloe vera ball also falls into this usefulness category.

These hacks do more harm than good

Beware of so-called do-it-yourself remedies, which can irritate your bruise and make your hickey even more noticeable.

You may have heard of using a toothbrush, a coin, or your thumb to “break” a hickey. The idea is that a targeted massage, where you rub the hickey scratch, stimulates blood flow and speeds up the healing process. Don’t try it. In fact, you can only further traumatize the area by exacerbating the already existing discoloration.

Another hack to avoid is the use of peppermint oil or toothpaste. The mythology here is that the tingling sensation that these mints evoke speeds up the healing process. Instead, you run the risk of irritating the skin on top of the hickey without doing anything about the bruise underneath.

Harsh Reality: Your hickey needs time

In the end, unfortunately, there is no one at home who can make the hickey disappear overnight. A warm compress can help, but like other forms of bruising, hickeys just take time to heal.

If you really need to cover up a hickey, you can always apply color-correcting makeup to the area. Or hey, at least winter is just around the corner, so your sudden fondness for turtlenecks won’t come as too much of a surprise.

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