Sure, hiding a hickey with a scarf or turtleneck seems easy enough. But, LBH, that’s not always an option. Maybe you’ve got a black tie wedding on your sched, or a hot yoga sesh…with your mom.
“Is there any other way of hiding this monstrosity?!” you wonder. Why yes, yes there is. Get that sh*t under control, and thank me later.
Okay, first of all, what is hickey?
A hickey is a specific type of bruise, which forms when blood vessels break and blood accumulates beneath the surface of the skin. “In the case of a hickey, suction causes tiny blood vessels, called capillaries, near the surface of the skin to break,” says Darren Smith, M.D., a New York City-based board-certified plastic surgeon. “These leak blood, and this stains the skin, giving a hickey its characteristic shape and color.”
A hickey takes a few days to heal, depending on the severity of the bruise. In the meantime, prepare to see all the colors of the rainbow reflected on your neck. “As your body heals the bruise, it changes color from purple, to pink, then green and yellow, and then it resolves completely,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist.
How to get rid of hickeys
1. Pay for a laser treatment
The most effective and immediate way of getting rid of a hickey as quickly as possible involves a specialized laser treatment.
“These lasers can specifically target red blood cells, fragmenting them into small pieces that are easily removed by white blood cells,” says Smith. “This leads to dramatic improvement in the appearance of a hickey in about 48 hours in most cases.”
Although this is the fastest, most effective option, it is also the most expensive—one treatment could cost several hundred dollars. You’ll need to contact your dermatologist if you’re interested.
2. Use arnica cream
There are multiple types of creams you can apply to your skin to reduce swelling and inflammation. “Arnica cream reduces inflammation and is often paired with vitamin K,” says Smith.
Vitamin K is an essential component of the “coagulation cascade,” or the process by which the body forms blood clots. “It is not completely understood how topical vitamin K contributes to the resolution of bruising, or hickey healing, but this combination can speed things up,” says Smith.
3. Grab some under-eye cream
You can also apply under-eye cream to your hickey in a pinch. “Vitamin K is commonly used to help brighten under-eye darkness, and can help your body heal bruises quicker than normal,” says Zeichner.
4. Try cellulite cream
You can also try using a cellulite cream, which “typically contains caffeine to help constrict blood vessels and minimize how much blood leaks into the skin,” says Zeichner.
5. Go for the aloe vera
Aloe is another topical treatment that’s known to soothe inflamed skin (like sunburns), and can have the same effect for a hickey. “But don’t look for miracles to happen here,” says Smith. “Aloe will likely speed things up by a few days in a best-case scenario.”
6. Bust out the jade roller
You can use a cold spoon to help reduce any swelling and minimize the size of the hickey, or Zeichner suggests trying a jade roller. “The cold stone of a jade roller can help remove excess swelling and allow your skin to heal up a hickey on its own,” says Zeichner.
If you know a hickey might be developing, it’s best to try to tackle it head on, before it grows and gets darker. “Remember that a hickey is caused by leaking blood vessels, so if you apply pressure just like you would to stop any other bleeding, you can potentially significantly minimize a hickey’s spread,” says Smith.
7. Go ahead and ice it
Applying ice to the area can also help. “In the early phases after any injury, this will reduce the inflammatory response, and this can translate into a less angry-looking hickey,” says Smith.
Just can’t quit those hickeys? Zeichner suggests applying a lot of moisturizer to your neck before your hookups. “By making sure that your skin barrier is well hydrated and in as best shape as possible, you may be less likely to develop a hickey to begin with,” explains Zeichner.
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