Call it what you will - a kiss mark, love bite, etc. - a hickey is actually a bruise. The redness comes from broken capillaries that ooze blood into the skin, resulting in a collection of small blood clots that create the red or purple tell-tale mark. It can take a week or more to heal, but eventually disappears with no damage. You can find more about what is a hickey in this article.
However, if it's somewhere exposed so that others can see it, that's a week of embarrassment you might want to avoid. Here are 10 ways to get rid of a hickey.
1. Cold Compress
For a hickey (or bruise) to heal quickly, the blood clots need to be broken up, allowing the body to process the mess faster. A cold compress will constrict the blood vessels to reduce the blood flow and prevent further clotting.
Although a commercial product such as a gel pack or icepack is made for this, if you don't have one ready in the freezer there are a couple of easy substitutes. Place a few ice cubes in a paper towel or napkin, and press it against the hickey for 10-15 minutes.
Do this every few hours over the course of the day to minimize blood clotting, and also reduce pain or swelling that occurs. Don't apply ice directly to your skin.
If you have a metal utensil such as a large spoon or ladle, you can use that. Leave it in the freezer for about 10 minutes, then lay the napkin or towel over the hickey and rub it gently with the spoon while it's still cold.
While a cold compress is best to minimize the initial damage, after two or three days you can start applying warm compresses. This helps to increase blood flow in the surrounding tissue, and that means getting more blood and crucial nutrients to the spot.
Simply soak up some hot (not too hot!) water in a washcloth and press it lightly over the hickey. Be sure to wring out excess moisture, or place the cloth in a plastic bag. Allow about 5 minutes, and then very gently massage the area with your fingertips. Do this 2 or 3 times a day.
You could always pick up a thermal patch at the local pharmacy, or even use a hair dryer on low heat to get the same effect.
Peppermint has a stimulating effect that's useful as topical aid to healing a number of skin problems. It does this by improving blood circulation.
After the initial damage is done and the capillaries are starting to heal, apply a few drops of peppermint oil to the affected area. Peppermint oil can be fairly strong, so you don't need to use it more than once a day. It could even lead to skin irritation if used to excess.
Rub the oil very lightly over the hickey and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a wet cloth. In a pinch, you could also use peppermint toothpaste in the same way.
4. Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol should also be one of your first courses of treatment. This is a disinfectant, while it's quick rate of evaporation makes it feel cool and soothing on the skin. Soon after the hickey begins to appear, moisten the area with the alcohol.
Rub gently for several minutes until the skin feels soothed. Do this a few times a day for the first two days. Alcohol can also dry the skin, so be sure to rub some moisturizer over the spot between treatments.
5. Cocoa Butter
This is another excellent all-around natural remedy for skin problems. It's a great natural moisturizer that also helps to nurture and promote cell growth.
Try using a warm compress on the hickey to start blood flow, then rub in a little cocoa butter. Do this for a few minutes to help break up the blood clots and speed tissue repair. Wipe the area clean when done.
If you don't have cocoa butter, olive oil will also help get rid of a hickey.
6. Aloe Vera
The sap of the aloe vera plant is one of nature's best moisturizers and is used in a wide variety of creams and lotions for improving skin problems. Aloe vera is also a good anti-inflammatory. It can help overcome any sensitivity in the skin due to the hickey bruising.
If you have space for a potted plant, aloe vera is easy and hardy to grow for yourself. Fresh aloe vera is best, but when you don't have that opportunity pick up an aloe vera lotion that's marketed to sooth and moisturize the skin. Massage it slowly and gently into the skin three times a day for three days.
7. Vitamin K
Popping a vitamin K capsule immediately after getting a hickey will help to reduce the negative effects. This vitamin helps to prevent blood clots and is perfect for use in healing bruises. It will actually speed up your body's ability to reabsorb the pooled blood and reduce the redness.
You could also break the capsule to gently rub the vitamin K straight into the hickey. Foods such as broccoli, spinach, and fish or soybean oil are also high in vitamin K. Continue using it until the hickey is completely healed.
This citrus fruit is known for being high in vitamin C, which is a crucial nutrient for the body's immune system and its ability to heal. After getting a hickey, get some vitamin C at your local store or pharmacy, and/or start drinking more orange juice.
It's also high in sugars, which diabetics might want to keep in mind. Any other citrus juice will do, though orange juice is best. Taking at least 500 milligrams tablets of vitamin C every day is probably the best route, and keep taking it to get rid of a hickey faster.
9. Banana Peel
A banana peel is also one of nature's skin-friendly remedies, but also one that usually gets tossed in the garbage without a thought. But it does have soothing and healing properties for skin damage.
Cut or break off a section of the peel that will cover the hickey and lay it over the area so that the moist, inner peel is in contact with the affected skin. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes while you enjoy your banana.
Do this at least twice a day and you should experience both less sensitivity and faster healing.
As the hickey begins to heal, and any inflammation or sensitivity is gone, you can help promote healing by massaging the area with your fingers. Work outward from the center of the bruise. This stimulates blood flow for faster healing.
Do it twice a day until the hickey is gone. For faster results, use massage in combination with warm compresses.
Sign of passion though it may be, a hickey is really a bruise that needs time and help to heal effectively. If it's something that happens frequently, or the hickey is severe, it might be wise to keep some of the above-mentioned ingredients or products around the house.