When Someone Gives You A Hickey, This Is What Really Happens

After a successful evening with your lover, you get dressed and ready to take on the day when suddenly a passing reflection in the mirror on your way out illuminates that unsightly hickey on your neck. Momentarily panicked, embarrassed, but also perhaps a little proud, you rummage around for something to cover it up in hopes of avoiding unwanted conversation with those nosy co-workers or family members. So what is a hickey really?

Essentially a hickey is a bruise, but instead of being caused by bumping into furniture or suffering an injury, it's caused by the suction your partner's mouth makes with your skin in those passion-filled moments (via WebMD).

When your partner is kissing you on the neck and giving you a little "love bite," the suction they are creating with their mouth is actually causing tiny blood vessels under the skin's surface to leak or break. The blood that's released then pools under the skin and starts forming that familiar reddish-purple discoloration known as a hickey.

How long before your hickey goes away, and how can you conceal it

Like typical bruises, a hickey can linger anywhere from one to two weeks before completely resolving (via Healthline). To reduce inflammation and bleeding, you can apply an ice pack to the affected area intermittently for the first two days after the hickey appears. After the second day, the ice will no longer be beneficial and a warm compress can bring some relief. If you experience any associated pain, over the counter pain relievers should do the trick.

While usually harmless, covering up that hickey can annoying and add an extra step to your morning routine. As they heal, they will start to move through a color spectrum; starting off as red, deepening to purple, moving towards blue, lightening to yellow, before eventually fading altogether. Common ways to avoid the unnecessarily judging glares of your peers include using makeup to conceal the hickey and wearing scarves, bandanas, turtlenecks, or collared shirts.

So the next time you're engaged in a heavy make-out session and wind up with an unsightly hickey, don't fret — like almost all things in life, that too shall pass.