January 4, 2024

How To Get Rid of Your Hickey, Fast

This type of bruise might benefit from warm compresses, but time is really the healing key

person showing hickey on their neck

You got a little hot and heavy in the heat of the moment, and now, there’s evidence of it for all to see — right there on your neck.

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A hickey is a bruise caused by trauma to the skin, such as by sucking or biting. And although they aren’t serious injuries, they can be pretty embarrassing! So, how can you get rid of a hickey ASAP?

Dermatologist Alok Vij, MD, explains how to minimize a hickey while you wait for it to fully fade.

What to do to get rid of a hickey

The internet is full of DIY tips that claim to get rid of hickeys overnight. But you shouldn’t rush to scrape your hickey with a fork or put toothpaste on your superficial wound, for example, in the hopes it’ll make your hickey disappear faster. Dr. Vij says there’s no real science to most of these tricks, and you can actually do more harm than good if you scrape, puncture or irritate the surface of your skin where it’s been bruised.

“A hickey is a stain in the second layer of the skin, called the dermis,” explains Dr. Vij. “Any abrasive treatment of the skin like scrubbing with toothpaste or trying to scratch off the discoloration would be too superficial to impact the hickey. And it could even make the problem more apparent with scratches, bleeding, additional discoloration and scar formation.”

Instead, Dr. Vij shares his top tips for minimizing your hickey’s appearance as it heals.

1. Apply warm compresses

Your best bet is to treat your hickey with good old-fashioned warm compresses.

“Warm compresses can help open up your body’s blood vessels and break down the stain, taking away the red blood cells that have spilled out from the blood vessels and into your skin,” he explains.

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You can do the following method as many as four times a day throughout the duration of your hickey:

  • Fill a microwavable bowl with water and heat it in the microwave until it’s warm enough that you can just barely stand to keep a finger dipped into it. “It should be warmer than bathwater, but nowhere near boiling,” instructs Dr. Vij.
  • Soak two clean washcloths in the bowl of water, then grab one and wring it out. Apply it to your hickey, letting it sit until the washcloth has come back down to room temperature. Then, return that washcloth to the bowl of water and wring out the other one, repeating the process with the second washcloth.
  • Repeat this process three or four times, for a total of 15 to 20 minutes. You may have to reheat the bowl of water between applications as it cools.

2. Avoid cold compresses

Although cold compresses can help in cases of more substantial bruising, don’t bother putting them on your hickey unless it’s in the first few minutes after you get one. Icing your love bite immediately can provide minimal relief for irritation or inflammation, but it won’t help in the same way it would if you bruised your leg after bumping into the nightstand.

“The trauma to your skin is minimal enough that cold won’t do much good,” Dr. Vij says.

Instead, jump right to warm compresses and repeat as necessary for as many days as it takes for the mark to fade.

3. Use healing gels and creams

In addition to the warm compress method, you can apply gels or creams that contain the following ingredients to help speed up the healing process:

  • Arnica: Doctors aren’t sure exactly why, but arnica has been found to help bruises heal more quickly. But avoid it if you take blood thinners.
  • Vitamin CResearch suggests that vitamin C can help blood clot, which helps reduce the amount of bruising.
  • Vitamin K: Though vitamin K may help fade bruises, apply it topically instead of taking it orally. Oral vitamin K is associated with more potential risks.

Some sources suggest applying aloe vera, which can calm skin inflammation (as in the case of sunburns), but Dr. Vij says it’s not actually much help on hickeys.

“With a hickey, there’s not that much skin inflammation,” he says. “It’s just slight trauma.”

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4. Consider laser therapy

If you have a big event coming up, you can ask your doctor about laser removal for a hickey in the 24 to 48 hours after it first appears. Be warned, though, that this method can be an expensive route, and it will still take a day or two for it to heal completely. Beyond that, your best bet is to wait out the healing process.

5. Hide it while it heals — or don’t!

While you wait for your hickey to heal, if you want to cover up the evidence, you can rely on the following:

  • Concealer.
  • Collared clothing or a scarf.
  • Bandages or dressing.

Of course, there’s another option: You don’t have to cover up your hickey if you feel safe leaving it uncovered. You shouldn’t feel ashamed or buckle under the weight of self-blame when it comes to relationships and sexual activity — instead, consider embracing sex positivity.

How long does a hickey take to heal?

If you’re still trying to figure out how to get rid of a hickey fast, the truth sucks (hickey pun intended): There’s no quick and easy way to get rid of a hickey. Like other forms of bruising, hickeys need time to heal. So, you likely won’t be able to get rid of your hickey overnight let alone in a few hours.

But there’s good news. Most bruises last anywhere from three days to two weeks. Hickeys are a superficial form of bruising, so they don’t take as long to heal as other types.

“The amount of trauma to the skin that creates a hickey isn’t as great as the trauma that causes, say, a black eye,” reiterates Dr. Vij. “So, hickeys can heal earlier on the spectrum as compared to other causes of bruising.”

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