When people think of a hickey, they might think back to times in high school or college, or maybe even last week. Hickeys have been around forever, much like sexual intercourse, and occur just as commonly.
They've always been around, yet for many adults, they aren't something they want to flaunt on their necks brazenly.
Below we'll discuss what a hickey is, some hickey history, and some how-to for giving hickeys, along with how to hide or cover them up. If you're time-crunched and looking for quick tips on how to cover a hickey or conceal it, you can skip to the end of this article straight away.
What is a Hickey?
A hickey is a bruise caused by popped blood vessels. These love marks are left when one partner sucks on a sensitive skin area, like how a vacuum works.
Though they are technically a bruise, a hickey is a love mark that can be given for many reasons. They're the product of a passionate make-out session — a quick reminder of a hot and heavy experience.
Though sometimes people intentionally leave a hickey, other times, it can happen from prolonged attention on a specific area of your partner's body and be left unintentionally.
Where Did the Word Hickey Come From?
The word "hickey" is an Americanism that came into use somewhere in the early part of the 20th century. Jill McDevitt, Ph.D., the resident sexologist at CalExotics, claims the term was coined in 1934. Although we know when the period started to make its way into famous speech in the U.S., its origins are cloudy.
McDevitt also says the act itself of giving a hickey, though not referred to by that name, is mentioned in the ancient Kama Sutra text as something to avoid unless the goal was to punish your partner.
Other sources citing the Kama Sutra summarize the entry on hickeys, or "the coral and the jewel," as "bringing together the teeth and the lips…where the lip is the coral, and the teeth the jewel." Also noted is that it "ideally needs to be performed by excellent teeth free of defects."
What is Happening to the Skin When Giving a Hickey?
When someone gives their partner a hickey, they're essentially giving them a slight bruise. By sucking on their partner's sensitive skin, blood vessels in the epidermis rupture. The damaged blood cell capillaries leak into the interstitial space beneath the epidermis, leaving a hickey, which will usually leave the skin discolored after a few seconds of suction. If the person giving the hickey spends prolonged time in one spot with intense suction, the resulting hickey may be a deep purple, similar to a nasty bruise.
Why Do People Give Hickeys?
The main reason people give hickeys is to mark their partner with a memory of their shared passion. Many people see it as a mark of pride, showing the world they are proud to have a certain special someone in their lives. They offer a strong desire for the other person, and many people see them as a sign of deep love and trust in a romantic relationship.
Where Can You Give or Receive a Hickey?
The neck is the most popular place on a person's body to give or receive a hickey. This is probably partly due to the channel being next to the lips when kissing and being the most visible area on the body that someone might have a hickey. If it's underneath their clothes, no one would know besides their partner.
A hickey can technically be given on any body area except the bony, like elbows or fingers and toes. You and your partner might try other sensitive and erogenous zones on each other's bodies like the chest or collarbone, stomach, or upper and inner thighs.
Though sometimes a hickey seems to happen in the heat of the moment, it's essential to only give out hickeys to people that want them from you. Consent is always crucial. It might also be a brilliant idea to run it by your partner before giving them a supersized dark purple hickey.
Who knows? Maybe they'd rather not have something so glaringly obvious on the side of their neck before their big meeting tomorrow. Or perhaps they would. Better to ask.
Does Getting a Hickey Hurt?
A hickey shouldn't hurt. It's not typically done with the teeth, as bites would leave a different mark than a hickey. You're not a vampire trying to suck their blood, are you?
When humans are sexually aroused, frequently, slightly painful stimulus — like someone sucking on you until bruise forms — aren't experienced as unbearable. The intoxicating combination of chemicals being released inside the body during a highly arousing scenario makes the slight sting of a hickey an exciting punctuation mark sprinkled throughout the experience.
What Does it Feel Like to Receive a Hickey?
A hickey feels much like you might expect: someone sucking on your skin. It can be a gentle sting or a more pronounced sensation depending on the amount of suction your partner is putting on your skin and what region of the body they're focusing on.
How Do You Give Someone a Hickey?
If you've come here because you're wondering how to give a hickey, read on.
A hickey is given by forming your lips into an O shape, pressing them to your partner's skin, making a seal like a vacuum, and sucking. You only need to suck on the desired hickey location for just a few seconds to produce a slightly discolored mark on your partner's skin.
If you and your partner are going for the dark-mark style hickeys visible from ten yards, 20 to 30 seconds of solid suction on the desired location should do the trick.
How Long Do Hickeys Last For?
The length of time a hickey lasts is dependent on a few factors. Generally speaking, the more vascular the body area is — that is, the more blood vessels and capillaries there are — the longer the hickey will last and the more pronounced it will appear. More broken blood vessels equal more healing time. Areas like the neck are highly vascular, and a dark hickey on the channel might take a while to heal.
Everyone's different, though, and how quickly you heal depends on your body and overall health. For example, someone with an iron deficiency tends to bruise easily, so it's easier to become discolored and takes longer to heal.
The bottom line on is how long a hickey will last: it's a bruise. Ask yourself, how long do your bruises usually take to heal?
How Can You Get Rid of a Hickey?
There are a few things you can try to get rid of a hickey or at least reduce its severity and a few things you can do to conceal it:
Try an ice pack. An ice pack or cold compress applied to a hickey as soon as possible can help reduce its size and appearance by cooling ruptured blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to the bruised area.
Try a heat pack or heating pad. This works by increasing blood flow to the affected area, hopefully helping the accumulated blood absorb faster. For this to be effective, you should wait at least 48 hours after receiving a hickey to attempt it. Maybe try ice first, then heat the next day.
The coin method. Though not backed up by science and possibly resulting in a more unsightly wound than the hickey itself was, you could try the coin method. This works by essentially making the injury worse. You pull the skin around the hickey taut and push down hard with a coin in a spreading motion. This one probably isn't a good idea, so consider sticking to ice and heat.
You are using coverup or concealer makeup. You could permanently hide it with concealer makeup. You might need a lot, but it's a pretty safe bet for hiding your hickey.
- Turtlenecks and scarves. These are the cliché clothing items for hiding a hickey for a reason. They should work, depending on how high up your neck the hickey is.
Hickeys aren't serious injuries, only minor bruises, and generally, cause concern. And no, it doesn't mean you're dying. They'll usually clear up by themselves in a few days to weeks. There are some things you can try to reduce the severity of a hickey, but time is the only thing that will make them disappear entirely.
Hickeys aren't anything new, and most people probably end up with a hickey or two at least a few times throughout their lives. You can think of it as a temporary love tattoo showing your passion and desire for your partner.
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