This guide outlines how to give someone a hickey correctly, how to get rid of a hickey, and explores whether it is dangerous.
Origins of the hickey
The love bite commonly known as the hickey was scientifically researched in specialist books as early as the middle of the 19th century. Presumably, according to the records, the painful expression of love has its origin in the animal world. Some mammals, such as donkeys, bite each other as part of their mating ritual.
In humans, the biting and sucking that leads to a hickey may be due to the association of love with pain and the display of power, one of the oldest human instincts. The bite as part of the love game is already discussed in the Kama Sutra 200 to 300 BC and the different types of hickey are described in detail.
How to give someone a hickey: what happens in medical terms
A hickey is a collection of ruptured blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin. Such an injury occurs when the skin is sucked so hard that negative pressure is created. It can be created by someone placing the parted lips on the skin, pulling the air or the skin into the oral cavity with force and holding it under pressure for a while. This can be done with or without tooth contact. Because the veins can also be damaged by biting too hard in the heat of the love fight.
Incidentally, a hickey is not always immediately visible, but can take around five to ten minutes to appear. Often it hurts a little, at least at the beginning.
How to give someone a hickey: the procedure
The first step in how to give someone a hickey is to make sure the recipient consents. You should ask your partner if he or she is okay with you making a hickey. In the heat of the moment, don’t forget that there are certain spots that can be difficult to cover up. That can also be embarrassing for the other. Follow the steps below for how to give good hickeys.
Making a hickey is easy. Open your mouth a little and place your lips on the spot where you want the hickey to appear – on the neck, for example.
Depending on how you shape your lips, the hickey will be round or oval. Now suck on the skin with your lips for about 20 seconds. The harder you suck, the clearer the result will be. However, you shouldn’t be too firm either, or the process will cause pain for your partner.
Don’t be surprised if you don’t see the hickey right away. After all, it only arises through bleeding. After a few minutes, the love marker will become visible. You can of course intensify it by sucking again in the same place.
How to give yourself a hickey
As a self-experiment, you can also just try on your own arm how hard you can suck it so that it doesn’t hurt and how you can create a nice shape for your hickey. Such a hickey can stay for up to a week. However, if you have sucked particularly hard, it can stay for up to 2 weeks. During the time it is healing, it then often changes its color. First it turns red and blue, then purple and finally a little yellowish, or even green. Pretty crazy!
However, you have to be careful if you want it to sit on your neck. Experts strongly advise against trying this alone – especially not with a vacuum cleaner. The skin on the neck in particular is thin and sensitive. You can do a lot of damage by making a hickey yourself.
On which parts of the body can a hickey appear?
In principle, (almost) every part of the body is suitable for hickey. Or as the love textbook Kama Sutra puts it: “All places that can be kissed can also be bitten, except the upper lip, the oral cavity and the eyes.” A hickey on the neck or a hickey on the chest are the most common variants – although all erogenous zones tend to be potential love bites, for example thighs, stomach and buttocks.
Is a hickey dangerous?
There are always stories in the media of people who are said to have ended up in hospital with a hickey or even died. In fact, scientists suspect that the strong suction can damage an artery, which could cause thrombosis, which in turn can lead to stroke. Such cases are extremely rare, however, and there is often a previous exposure to smoking or an immune disease. Those who have healthy blood vessels usually have nothing to fear from a hickey.
It is a myth, by the way, that a hickey can cause cancer. The suction effect that creates it is even deliberately used as a remedy in naturopathy: in cupping, a procedure in which small glasses are supposed to release tension and alleviate pain using negative pressure. So just relax while kissing, enjoy and let the hickey be hickey.
How to get rid of a hickey
There is no proven effective remedy for a hickey. However, there are plenty of well-intentioned tips against hickey spots, which are usually not — or only moderately — successful.
A hickey is nothing more than a bruise. Like any bruise, it is caused by bleeding under the skin. Small blood vessels burst and the blood is distributed in the surrounding tissue. As a rule, this is not dangerous, but it is clearly visible. Accordingly, a hickey behaves like any other bruise: It can take one to four weeks for it to go away. During this time, it then presents itself in all the colors typical for a bruise: red, blue, green, brown.
You can keep a fresh hickey from getting any bigger
- If the hickey is fresh, tackle it with ice. Cooling prevents further bleeding. Place a cooling element or ice cube on the spot. Admittedly, that’s not romantic …
- If you don’t have ice on hand, help yourself with a tablespoon: press the bulge on the stain. Of course, this method works even better if you briefly put the spoon in the freezer compartment beforehand.
If necessary, frozen vegetables can also be used for cooling. A pack of frozen peas is ideal as their shape is easy to adjust. The trick with a banana peel can also help: place a piece of banana peel upside down on the affected area.
Remove an older hickey – is that still possible?
If the hickey is not that fresh, there is still something you can do to get rid of it faster:
- Cooling no longer helps, now warmth is required: Use a warming pad or towel that you dip in warm water.
- Make sure it’s not too hot. Otherwise there is a risk of burns. Repeat the application of heat several times a day for about 20 minutes.
- A warm bath or a sauna session also help to make the stain disappear faster. The blood circulation is stimulated by the warmth, so the bruise is broken down faster.
- Of course, ointments against bruises also help with hickey marks. Wear a heparin ointment on the location where the stain should disappear quickly.
- Trying to remove the hickey by brushing it to smooth the blood vessels, for example, can damage the skin even more.
- Aspirin and other blood-thinning drugs can also make the stain glow longer than it would without “treatment”, since the vessels are still sensitive even after several days.
- One thing that may help against hickey is cooling. So it may disappear a day or two earlier. However, it differs from person to person how long it stays.
- A hickey only needs about a week on average, even without treatment, before it can no longer be seen. Until then, the most effective thing you can do is cover up the hickey – with a cloth or make-up, for example. There is only one answer to the question “What can you do about hickey?”: Wait.