Just like with acne and angst, hickeys don’t necessarily disappear after adolescence. Hickeys are mocked as a teenage whim, but any adult with a healthy sex life knows all too well what it’s like to realize you have an unseemly bruise on your neck. And as adults, we should know what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to covering up your pesky hickeys. Here’s what you should actually do to deal with a hickey, plus what you should avoid at all costs.
Your best bet is a warm compress
First off, a quick refresher on what we’re dealing with here: Hickeys are broken blood vessels typically caused by, uh, suction, which then results in a bruise (hence the discoloration). While many bruises can last up to two weeks, hickeys are superficial bruises and should go away in a few days.
A warm compress is the most tried-and-true method to treat a hickey. According to Insiderthe heat helps increase blood flow to the area, allowing your body to break up then reabsorb the trapped blood that makes the hickey visible. To apply a warm compress, try the following method, which comes from Cleveland Clinic:
- Fill a microwavable bowl with water, and heat it in the microwave until it’s warm. A good temperature is a bit hotter than bathwater, but nowhere near boiling.
- Place a clean washcloth in the water. After soaking it for a few minutes, wring it out and apply it to your hickey. Allow it to sit until the washcloth has cooled to room temperature.
- Repeat. If you have two washcloths, you can soak one while applying the other to your hickey, rotating them so that you don’t have to wait between applications. You may have to reheat the water bowl several times.
Follow the steps above until you’ve had a warm compress on the target area for a total of 15 to 20 minutes.
A cold spoon won’t hurt (but won’t help much either)
On the other end of the spectrum, one of the most popular “hacks” to banish a hickey is a freezing cold spoon. Unfortunately, with such a superficial bruise, the cold won’t have much of an impact. No evidence suggests that it will make the bruising go away, although the cold can calm any inflammation around the area. The verdict is that a cold spoon won’t make your hickey disappear, but it likely won’t make it any worse, either. A cool glob of Aloe vera falls into this category of utility, as well.
These hacks do more harm than good
Beware of so-called DIY remedies that might end up irritating your bruise and making your hickey even more noticeable.
You may have heard about using a toothbrush, a coin, or your thumb to “break up” the hickey. The idea is that a targeted massage, in which you rub the scrape at the hickey, will stimulate blood flow and speed up your healing process. Do not try this. In reality, you just might further traumatize the area, only worsening the discoloration you already have.
Another “hack” to avoid is the use of peppermint oil or toothpaste. The mythology here is that the tingly sensation these minty substances cause is speeding up the healing process. Instead, you risk irritating the skin on top of the hickey, all while doing nothing for the bruise under it.
The harsh reality: Your hockey needs time
At the end of the day, there’s sadly no one at-home hack to make a hickey disappear overnight. A warm compress can help, but like other forms of bruising, hickeys simply need time to heal.
If you really need to hide your hickey, you can always apply color-correcting makeup to the area. Or hey, at least winter is right around the corner, so your sudden affinity for turtlenecks won’t raise too many eyebrows.