A hickey is a temporary mark that can appear after someone sucks on another person’s skin. Hickeys occur when tiny blood vessels just below the surface of the skin burst and leak into the surrounding soft tissues.
Hickeys tend to appear as a patch of decolorization. These patches are typically pink, red, or purple when they first appear and may also be tender to the touch. As the bruise heals, the hickey may become bluer.
Hickeys can occur anywhere on the body, but people tend to associate them with the neck, where they can be quite visible. Hickeys can last for several days or more.
In this article, we look at some home remedies that may help hickeys heal faster.
Because a hickey is a type of bruise, some basic first aid principles can help reduce the appearance of a hickey if a person acts quickly.
Applying a cold compress or ice pack to the affected area for 15–20 minutes can stop any bleeding, reduce swelling, and help the healing process.
A person can make their own ice pack by wrapping some ice cubes or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel. Avoid placing the ice directly on the skin, as this can cause pain and may damage the skin.
If the hickey is tender, taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medication such as ibuprofen might help relieve any pain or swelling.
Some people also recommend placing a cold spoon on the hickey for around 15 minutes. This may not be as effective as using an ice pack.
Others suggest rubbing the hickey with a toothbrush or scraping it with a coin to increase blood circulation in the area. However, there is not much evidence to suggest that this will work.
Arnica is an herb that grows in some areas of East Asia, Europe, the United States, and Canada. People have long used arnica as a traditional remedy for pain, swelling, and bruising.
Arnica is available in the form of an ointment, a gel, and homeopathic pellets. A 2014 systematic review found some evidence to suggest that topical use of arnica in doses above 10 percent may have a modest effect on healing bruises.
When purchasing arnica gels or ointment, it may be best to choose one that contains at least 20 percent arnica.
Many arnica gels and ointments are available to purchase online.
A person can apply comfrey products topically to treat a bruise.
Comfrey is shrub native to Europe and which also grows in parts of the U.S. The roots and leaves of comfrey are traditional remedies for treating a range of ailments, including:
A 2013 review found some scientific evidence to suggest that the topical administration of comfrey root may help treat bruises, pain, and swelling.
Topical preparations of comfrey root include creams, gels, oils, and salves. Several topical products containing comfrey root extract are available to purchase online.
Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting and wound healing. Although vitamin K deficiency is rare, it can make a person more prone to bruising and bleeding problems.
One 2002 study investigated the use of topical vitamin K in people having laser treatment for facial spider veins.
Participants who used a vitamin K cream following laser treatment had reduced bruising compared with those who used a placebo cream. However, using the cream before the treatment did not prevent bruising from occurring.
Many vitamin K creams are available to buy online.
A person can also eat foods rich in vitamin K or take vitamin supplements to boost healing. Good sources of vitamin K include:
- leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli
- meat, dairy products, and eggs
- vegetable oils, particularly soybean and canola oil
- certain fruits, such as blueberries, grapes, and figs
A person can purchase vitamin K supplements online.
Grapefruit and other citrus fruits contain vitamin C.
The body needs vitamin C to make a protein called collagen. This is essential for wound healing and maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, and cartilage.
Vitamin C deficiency, or scurvy, is uncommon but can cause a range of symptoms. These can include bruising more easily and slower wound healing.
Although there is a little scientific evidence to support its use, a person can try applying a vitamin C cream to the affected area to improve healing.
A variety of vitamin C creams are available to purchase online.
Eating plenty of vitamin C-rich foods may help boost skin healing. Foods high in vitamin C include:
- citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit
- red and green peppers
- fortified breakfast cereals
Most pharmacies and health stores also stock vitamin C supplements. A person can also purchase a range of different vitamin C supplements online.
A hickey is a bruise that develops when someone sucks on another person’s skin. Some people may need to cover hickeys when they appear on visible parts of the body, such as the neck.
Hickeys are harmless and normally go way on their own after several days. Applying an ice pack to the affected area as soon as possible is the best way to reduce the appearance and any pain or swelling. Taking OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen can also help relieve tenderness.
Other home remedies, such as applying topical creams or gels containing arnica, comfrey, vitamin K, or vitamin C, may also help.
However, the scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of these products is limited.