Have you ever noticed a strange little mark on the neck of a friend or colleague? It may be a hickey, also called love bite ! We sometimes discover some after a cuddling session or a fiery part of legs in the air… And they can quickly become troublesome, especially in the family and professional context. How long do they last? How to make them disappear quickly? Should we be worried about it?
Definition: what is a hickey?
As their name suggests, hickeys literally appear when one person sucks another person’s skin hard enough, often in intimate relationships. This usually results in a more or less large bruise, oval or circular in shape, depending on the size of the offending mouth. It is mainly found in the neck, or in any the exposed area above the collarbones.
Concretely, when the lips remain pressing on the skin for too long, exerting pressure, the blood vessels dilate under the skin and burst. This leads to the formation of a visible blood clot outside the epidermis. The bruise can then change from red to yellow, through purple and blue, or brown. Not to mention that they are sometimes accompanied by a bite.
Why make a hickey?
There are no good or bad reasons to get a hickey. The most important is to respect his/her partner’s consent and boundaries. These marks are generally common among adolescents and young adults who are new to sexuality. But adults can also indulge in it, with or without direct intention.
- Hickeys can be perceived as a way of mark one’s territory (the other) of his imprint: he or she is already taken, and the mark on his neck says enough about the tenor of his antics. This is an attitude that is often found in people who are less emotionally mature, who have a strong need for ownership.
- In some cases, it is the carnal need that takes over: we want to eat the other, suck it, suck itas if to comfort himself.
How long does a hickey last?
Generally benign, hickeys disappear in a few days, to two or three weeks, depending on their extent and the healing capacities of each. Most of the time they present a color ranging from red to purple (red, dark red, purple or dark purple, etc.), due to ruptured blood vessels.
Are hickeys dangerous?
The hickeys are not serious, insofar as they remain consented, within the framework of games. Some claim that they would be dangerous. “Indeed, the fact of sucking blood with the mouth through the skin, causes the bursting of the blood vessels (a bruise) and can, in extremely rare cases, form a clot that can travel to the heart or brain. The consequences can then be dramatic” indicates the Fil Santé Jeunes (source 1). Fortunately, these are extremely rare cases.
Can a hickey cause a stroke?
In 2016, 17-year-old Julio Mecias Gonzalez died after his girlfriend gave him a hickey on his neck, reports West France (source 2). This passionate gesture would have caused the formation of a hematoma on the wall of the artery of the neck of the young Mexican. A clot would thus have appeared and reached his brain, which would have led to a stroke, according to the doctors.
Only one other similar case had so far been reported. A 44-year-old New Zealander (luckier than the young boy, since she survived) went to the hospital in November 2010. Her right arm was suddenly paralyzed. The diagnosis ? A internal carotid thrombosis linked to a hickey: the pressure exerted by the lips to practice a strong aspiration at the level of the skin of the neck of the young man caused its formation, and this one went up by blood way to the brain. In other words, hematomas are not part of the main risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure, lack of physical activity or smoking.
If the memory of a passionate kiss can be pleasant, recalling it can sometimes be tricky in the context of a work meeting or an appointment with the in-laws, for example. There are several solutions to remedy this:
- The foundation, or the concealer. This trick hides the bruise in minutes. Opt for a foundation that is the same color as your skin tone. Otherwise, apply it all over the face to harmonize everything. A concealer and a mattifying powder are also sufficient to subtly conceal this unsightly hickey. Adapt the shade of make-up to the color of the hickey, which will evolve with the days. Plan to do touch-ups during the day.
- Adapt your clothing style. To hide a hickey on your neck, wear a scarf or neckerchief. You can also opt, depending on the season, for the turtleneck Where a choke thick (a choker necklace).
- If you have long hair, make sure that it does not move too much to permanently camouflage the hickey.
- Be careful if you wear necklaces or long earrings: do not draw attention to your neck.
- As a last resort – sometimes the most effective, tape a bandage to the hickey and invent an excuse : infected insect bite, a pimple you scratched, a burn with your hair straightener, etc.
To quickly remedy the appearance of a hickey, take care of it as soon as possible. As soon as you notice its presence:
- Apply cold, without rubbing, to the hickey (ice wrapped in a cloth, a very cold compress, your favorite wrapped package of frozen vegetables, a cold spoon, etc). This step will notably prevent swelling of the bruise and calm the pain. Also exert pressure on the bruise, to limit the swelling. Leave the ice on for 20 minutes. Once these minutes have passed, the hickey must rest, then you can start the operation again.
- For several days, you can also apply aloe vera to the hickey. This will speed up the healing of the bruise. The plant boosted also the immune system.
- Opt for a cream or ointment ordinary anti-hematoma or an anti-inflammatory gel, on the advice of the pharmacist, products that do not have a warming effect. They may contain dimethyl sulfoxide, heparin or dexpanthenol.
- This method may seem efficient, but it works: take a perfectly clean toothbrush, brush the part where the hickey is and the perimeter. The goal: to increase blood circulation. Wait for 15 to 20 minutes. Suddenly, the swelling and redness will be more severe, but this will subside within a few minutes.
- Take rest. In order to hide the hickey, the decrease in blood flow is necessary. So avoid moving too much and relax well. If you feel bad, give preference to paracetamol instead of aspirin or ibuprofen. These two analgesics thin the blood and enlarge the surface of the hematoma.
- Bet on foods rich in trace elements, in vitamin K and vitamin C, they are well known to speed healing: tomatoes, carrots, peppers, liver, citrus fruits, etc. You can also take dietary supplements. Vitamin K is also used to treat bruises and to restore capillaries. For example, place a piece of banana on the affected part to reduce the hickey.