Every once in a while, in this adventurous journey of life, we adults find ourselves in scenarios that are rather embarrassing not only to ourselves but also to our loved ones and the people around us. Spotting a hickey is one sure way of attracting stares and giggles, causing the affected person untold embarrassment and therefore they become uncomfortable and are not able to go about their daily business with ease. For obvious reasons, those who have hickeys would like to get them off as fast as they acquired them. To better understand how to manage and get rid of a hickey fast, it will be better if we first understand what a hickey is.
What causes the development of hickeys?
A hickey is a bruise caused by biting or hard-kissing on the soft tissue parts of one’s body, for example the neck. The bruising occurs as a result of the thinly walled capillaries that lie under our skin being put under pressure and eventually they rapture, releasing blood into the cells around them. This blood clots around this area, causing a reddish blemish on the skin around it but after a while due to lack of oxygen, the blood clot turns dark brown or a blue shade. This discoloration is what is observed on the external skin and is known as a hickey (also called “love bite” or a “kiss mark”), and can last for a week to a fortnight, depending on which part of the body has developed it.
So a hickey is simply a bruise. Does this mean that it can be treated like any other bruise? The treatment of a hickey will depend on two things – how intense was it, and he body part that has been affected.
Treatment Methods Used For Getting Rid of Hickeys
1. Making the affected area cold
This method is best to use immediately after one has acquired the hickey. As mentioned earlier, hickeys develop as a result of ruptured capillaries that ooze blood to the surrounding tissues. Making the area cold slows down the flow of blood to the area hence reducing the size of the hickey. One can make the affected area cold by use of the following:
- Wrapping frozen ice in a towel and pressing on the affected area for an average of twenty minutes, with a break interval of also twenty minutes before applying pressure using frozen ice on the area again.
- A common method used is the application of a cold spoon on the affected area. Take several spoons and place them in the freezer for fifteen minutes. The frozen spoon is then pressed on the affected area and pressure is spread also to the adjacent areas for a while. Replace the spoon once it has become warm with a cold spoon from the freezer. Repeat this process for twenty minutes for best results.
However, great care should be observed when using the cold method. Placing very cold objects on the skin may cause frost bite and may trigger asthma attacks in asthmatic people.
2. Rubbing the hickey with a toothbrush
This method works best hand-in-hand with making the affected area cold. The idea is to increase blood flow from the hickey area to other tissue parts. The blotted blood is spread to adjacent tissue parts with the help of a stiff brush. Of course, a new tooth brush will work best. The results should be visible after a few hours. The brush reduces the intensity of the discoloration on the affected part by spreading the clotted blood, hence making the discoloration spread to a wider area.
3. Applying heat in the affected area
This is in direct contradiction with the cold method. However, the trick lies in the timing. The hot method is only used after a period of forty eight hours since the formation of a hickey. Normally, after forty eight hours, the broken capillaries have healed and the reason for the discoloration is due to the blood clot on the tissues surrounding the broken capillaries. This clot will slowly be re-absorbed into the blood stream. What the heat does is it increases blood flow in the area, hence hastening the re-absorption of the clot into the blood stream thus clearing the discoloration.
4. Use toothpaste
This is another way of increasing blood flow to the kiss mark area and hence ensuring that the clot is re-absorbed faster. One should look for mint based toothpaste and apply it on the hickey. This will create a tingling effect. Once the tingling sensation has subsided, wash away the toothpaste with warm water. Caution should however be observed not to use this method too frequently since it can cause local irritation of the skin.
5. Use of a coin
The coin here is used like a scraper whereby the skin affected is stretched by two fingers. The coin is then used to scrape away from the center of the hickey outwards. The idea is to break down the blood clot on the area and to spread it to other surrounding tissues around it. This eases the re-absorption of the clot into the blood stream.
Care should be taken when administering this procedure. Adequate pressure should be used when scraping away to avoid making the hickey develop into a wound. Naturally, the area scraped will become red but only for a short while.
6. Twisting cylindrical objects (e.g. pen caps) on the hickey
This method aims at breaking down the clot just like the use of a coin. The cylindrical object is pressed hard on a hickey and whilst on this position, turned around as far as possible. The object is held in the turned position for five minutes or so, after which it is released. This breaks down the blood clot making it easy to be re-absorbed into the blood. Care should be taken to ensure that excessive force is not used to further damage.
The concept behind massaging hickeys is the same as for both when using a coin and when using cylindrical objects; to break down the clot. Before one begins massaging, apply warm water or a warm cloth on the bruise. Immediately after removing the hot cloth, apply two fingers and exert pressure as you move the two fingers outwards from the center.
Just like any external bruise, medication has little effect in healing a hickey too. However, medicines aid in relieving pain and altering the blood composition to hasten healing. For example:
- Taking Vitamin E supplements immediately after getting a hickey will aid in repair of the broken capillaries. Also foods rich in Vitamin E can help in the tissue repair.
- Vitamin K is a good anti-coagulant. When taken immediately, it helps in the re-absorption of the blood clot back into the circulatory system. This helps clear the hickey faster.
- Aspirin is a well re-known painkiller. However, it is also a good thinner and comes in handy when looking for ways to get rid of a hickey. It is best used twenty four hours after acquiring the love bite and blood from the ruptured capillaries has started clotting. As an anti-coagulant, the clotting blood is thinned and easily re-absorbed back into the blood.
In general, any medication taken for the purpose of aiding hickey removal should not be abused and any allergic reactions should be considered.
8. Rubbing alcohol
Rubbing alcohol creates a soothing and cooling effect, not to mention that it has disinfectant properties. It should be applied as soon as possible so as to relieve soreness and possible itchiness. However, one should have moisturizing lotion to apply on the area, since alcohol dries up the skin.
9. Banana peelings
Banana peelings have a soothing effect. The peelings are put on the bruise with the inside part facing down. They are then left on for ten minutes or so before discarding. This should be done at least three times in a day to ensure success. Banana peelings from kitchen use can be used.
10. Vitamin C
Vitamin C comes in handy when trying to heal hickeys since it aids in the repair of skin tissues. Vitamin C is best consumed from fresh orange fruit juice instead of packaged orange juice.
11. Cocoa butter
Cocoa butter acts as a good skin moisturizer. Dry skin will flake off and heal slowly whereas moist skin has a higher chance of generating new tissue and growing. Care should be taken not to put on a lot since it melts easily and can attract insects, for example bees.
12. Warm tea bag
Warm tea bag can be used as a warmer, where it is compressed on the skin. This warmth just plays the same role as the hot compressors, whilst the tea is said to speed regeneration of dead skin although no scientific evidence exists.
A home remedy when tuna oil is placed on the hickey and left to stay for around five minutes was also reported to work. Thereafter, the tuna oil is washed off leaving useful Vitamin E and Omega that are crucial for regeneration of skin.
14. Arnica salve
This is a healing ointment that has been medically proven to reduce swelling and soreness. When applied, it reduces the soreness and also helps in the repair of the broken capillaries on the skin. This boosts the fast healing of hickeys.
15. Preparation H
Preparation H is an anti-inflammatory used to treat puffy eyes. Some users have also put it to use to soothe hickeys and have recorded that it has considerably reduced the soreness.
In some situations, it may not be possible to have the hickey healed in time or it may be severe and requires more time to heal. In such cases, the best way to get rid of a hickey (or not make it seen) is to conceal it.
The most common ways of concealing a hickey are:
- Use of make-up. One can conceal one by creative and wise use of make-up. The make-up should incorporate blends that will conceal the injuries. A green lining that will conceal the red soreness is commonly used, with a yellow foundation placed on top to prevent reflection of the lining. The foundation should be applied evenly on the areas surrounding so as to not make it look obvious.
- Wearing clothes to conceal hickeys. Fashion is normally employed as a last minute ditch when it comes to concealing hickeys. Long sleeved blouses and turtle necks can do the job in cold weather. When employing this tactic, the clothes worn need to match the weather or else mismatched dressing to season will only draw more attention to you.
- Application of Vitamin K cream. Vitamin K cream helps in absorbing the blood clot on top of the skin and by doing so reduces the intensity of the skin discoloring. Its disadvantage is that it is not easily available.
- Wait it out. If all this fails, then it is best just to wait it out and let the hickey heal on its own. As one waits, it is advisable for them to employ proven ways of treatments. In most cases, individuals who will sit it out until it heals shun going to public places. Normally, a hickey will take maximum of two weeks to completely heal. Keeping in mind that they occur amongst young couples, then hickeys are a main contributor to wait-it-out culprits missing out on lectures and absenteeism at the work place.
Hickeys can cause embarrassment, and the fact that there are so many home remedies out there just qualifies the fact that they can be a nuisance. Of all the methods, it is advisable that once you notice to have a hickey, apply cold ice followed by one of the regimes to ensure it disappears quickly. The lesser the blood that is spread to tissues from the burst capillaries, the lesser the soreness of the hickey. Let’s watch out where we bite!!!