Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Hickeys

From Giving Hickeys to Getting Rid of Them and Everything in Between

Hickeys - a.k.a. love bites - are mysterious little creatures. Where do they come from, what makes them stick around and what can you do to banish them back from whence they came? Get the facts on giving them, removing them and everything in between.

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How Do You Give a Hickey?

man giving a woman a hickey
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Giving a hickey sucks...literally. Suck hard enough on someone's skin, especially on their neck where the skin is thin and delicate, and you'll leave a little red bruise called a hickey. The bruise is made up of thousands of tiny blood vessels you've just broken.

If you really feel like channeling your inner vampire, you can use your teeth when you leave your hickey (as long as your partner's okay with it). But even without teeth, the sucking motion is enough to break blood vessels and leave a mark. How romantic!

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Is it Mean to Give a Hickey?

It's mean to do anything to someone if they don't want it or didn't ask for it. Unsolicited hickeys are especially demeaning because giving a hickey is like leaving your mark on someone in a very public way.

But some people like getting hickeys and, weirdly enough, like wearing hickeys. So, if you've got the urge to suck on your sweetie's neck, ask for permission and you just might get it.

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How Long do Hickeys Last?

The time it takes for a hickey to fade away depends on how big it is and how deep it is (i.e., how long the person sucked on it). If you've got a brand-new hickey, expect it to stick around for at least a couple of days. If it's especially big and dark, it might be visible for a couple of weeks.

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Is There Any Way to Get Rid of a Hickey?

Sorry, but there's no miracle cure for hickeys. Hickeys are really just glorified bruises, and just like with bruises, you have to wait for hickeys to fade away on their own.

There are a couple of things you can do to make hickeys (or any bruises) fade faster. As soon as you get the hickey, wrap some ice in a cloth and hold it on the hickey for about 15 minutes every hour. This will reduce the swelling and speed up the healing process.

Also, the healthier you are, the faster bruises on your body tend to heal. So be sure to hydrate yourself and get lots of fruits and veggies in your diet. (Which are pretty good ideas even if you're not planning on getting a hickey anytime soon.)

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How Do You Hide a Hickey?

If you've got a hickey that you don't want your parents to see, you can always wear a turtleneck or tie a scarf around your neck, though it might get a little suspicious by day three (especially if it's the middle of July).

Of course, the best way to keep people from seeing your hickey is not to get one in the first place or to get one in a more secret spot (like under your arm or on your belly).

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Are Hickeys Dangerous?

Hickeys might be ugly, but there's nothing dangerous about having one (not counting what your folks would do if they found out). They'll fade away on their own.

There could be some danger in getting a hickey, though. If your partner has oral herpes, your skin's contact with their cold sores could pass the virus on to you. Familiarize yourself with what cold sores look like and politely refuse a hickey (or any other type of kiss, for that matter) from someone who's sporting one.