The Pros and Cons of a Hickey


What is a Hickey?

Two nude people holding each other. One person is giving the other person a kiss on the neck.

A hickey is essentially a bruise caused by aggressively kissing or sucking another person’s flesh.1 The aggressive kissing or sucking leads to the rupture of blood vessels, particularly the capillaries, which are located directly beneath the surface of the skin. This rupture of blood vessels causes blood to leak out into the surrounding tissue, which results in the visual external bruise or bruises that are physically recognizable after such activity. Hickeys are also known as “love bites” or “kiss marks” and may be appreciated or undesired depending on an individuals view towards hickeys.1 Some people find the feeling of giving or receiving a hickey as pleasurable while others may not.

The Pros of a Hickey

Hickeys are commonly sexual in nature and imply some sort of intimate activity. Some individuals enjoy having their erogenous zones such as the neck, thighs, and breasts aggressively kissed and or sucked, while others may not find such behavior as stimulating. If this kissing, sucking, biting, or nibbling is found to be enjoyable, partners may choose to explore each other’s bodies, which can further enhance sexual satisfaction. Often, hickeys are given on the neck, but can be found on the arm, collarbone, thighs, or just about anywhere that an individual finds arousing! This enhanced sexual satisfaction stems from the ability to use the mouth in various ways and in various locations as a tool for increased sexual arousal. In these cases, hickeys are a passionate or an in the heat-of-the-moment behavior that both partners find sexually stimulating. However, this may not always be true, as will be explained below.

The Cons of a Hickey

A hickey is a sexual mark that some people may find inappropriate in particular social, professional, or family environments.1 For instance, you wouldn’t want to meet your new partner’s parents or give a presentation to potential clients in a professional setting with massive mouth-shaped bruises on your neck. To some people giving a hickey is a mark of possession; sort of like a dog marking it’s territory, giving someone a hickey shows other potential partners that an individual may already be taken (can be seen as a pro depending on the couple’s perception of what a hickey implies). Also, if done incorrectly, receiving a hickey can be a turn-off and painful to some people. Often hickies are given as a heat-of-the-moment reaction and are later perceived as undesired. Getting rid of and/or hiding a hickey may prove to be difficult depending on its location and severity. Therefore, it is important to communicate with your partner(s) when initiating sexual behaviors that you or your partner may not be comfortable with.

How to Give a Hickey

A person kissing another person's cheek. They are smiling and hugging.

First and foremost you should ensure that your partner is comfortable with receiving a hickey. This may be as simple as ‘testing’ your partners comfort levels by gently sucking or nibbling on your partner and asking if they like it. Giving a hickey requires you to continually listen to what your partner designates as arousing or uncomfortable. Furthermore, giving a hickey typically begins with kissing on the mouth and progresses when moving to the location that the hickey will be given. Explore areas with soft skin (erogenous zones) and ask your partner where and what feels the best. The front and sides of the neck, inside the arms, and the thighs among others are noted as common erogenous zones but remember-each individual finds different areas more or less arousing, so explore! Once a location is chosen its time to have some fun! Form your mouth into a circle like you are whistling or saying “O” .2  Proceed by placing your mouth on the chosen area and suck as much as desired and comfortable for your partner. To avoid giving painful hickeys try to avoid using too much teeth or biting down, unless your partner prefers this. The rest is up to you and your partner. If you want to give the biggest hickey possible suck hard and for as long as desired, you can even pause and revisit the area if you want to. Finally, end the sucking with some gentle kisses and or licks to the area, which is now likely more sensitive than it was before.2 Like any other bruise, a hickey won’t appear instantly. If properly executed, a light pink to dark purple mark should become visible within five to ten minutes.

How to Get Rid of a Hickey

While hickeys cannot be removed instantly, there are tricks and tips that help speed up the recovery process. The most useful technique is the cold method, which requires application as soon as possible after receiving a hickey.1 The cold method is effective because cooling ruptured blood vessels can reduce blood flow. A common technique is simply wrapping ice in a paper towel and firmly massaging the ice on the hickey and the areas surrounding it. Another method involves using heat, which should be applied no sooner than 48 hours after receiving a hickey. After the ruptured blood vessels have healed, the blood that has collected under the surface of the skin remains unabsorbed. Heating up the area of the hickey increases the blood flow to the area and quickens the absorption of blood. A warm water bottle works as well as a heating pad, which should be applied to the area for 10-20 minutes.2 There are also many techniques that involve breaking up and increasing blood flow to the hickey area by applying pressure with a small utensil such as a pen cap, chap stick cap, stiff bristled tooth brush, or comb.2 Other tricks that may be less effective yet valid include, applying peppermint lotion to the area, massaging, and using remedies that include aspirin, Excedrin, vitamin K, vitamin E (Aloe Vera), Arnica Salve, and preparation H1. All of these tricks and tips may not remove a hickey instantly depending on the severity of it, but they do provide assistance in speeding up the process of making the hickey disappear.

How to Hide a Hickey

A person spraying a substance on their neck.

Considering the fact that hickeys can’t be instantly removed, hiding them is the next best option. Some hickeys last a few days while others may last a week or possibly longer and may require concealment. The key to hiding a hickey is to be creative and consider the environment you are in. For instance, wearing a turtleneck to hide a hickey on a hot summer day may not be comfortable. People who have long hair may take advantage of certain hairstyles that can hide hickeys. Make up is an easy and effective way of hiding a hickey. Concealer, foundation, and powder are all options as long as the color matches one’s skin tone. Using clothing and or accessories can be another option. Turtlenecks, scarves, Band-Aids, sleeves, collard shirts, hooded sweatshirts, and necklaces can be used to hide a hickey on the right occasion.2 When attempting to hide a hickey, remember to frequently check to ensure that it is still hidden and your technique has not failed you! If your partner is uncomfortable having a visible hickey another option is to place the hickey out of sight such as on the collarbone.

For more information about hickeys, check out this informative video!


  1. “How to Get Rid of a Hickey.” What Is a Hickey. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2015.
  2. “How to Give Someone a Hickey.” WikiHow. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2015.

Last Updated: 16 May 2015.