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Have you ever had or seen a big ol' hickey and wondered if it's actually unhealthy to suck the skin like that?!?! I wanted to know the answer to this question and I thought it would also be helpful to teach you the best ways to give a hickey if you so choose.

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My earliest memory of a hickey was sucking on my wrist and noticing a change in the color of my skin.

Then I remember giving hickeys in high school and getting them and this classmate who would come to school with a color of hickeys. In my 20s sex was really painful for me, so my partner would do other things to please me like hickeys.

But a co-worker complained that the markings from my alternative escapades were unprofessional and I went on a hickey hiatus. So when one of my teen daughters was sporting the bright purple bite I wondered: society's view aside, are hickeys harmful? [WHIP CRACKING, COUGH]. Hickeys are a form of ecchymosis, discoloration of the skin resulting from bleeding, in this case from intense sucking or kissing that causes capillaries to break and leak blood.

Intense sucking or kissing that causes capillaries to break and leak blood! That said, medical resources aren't opposed to them. The risk of something serious like a stroke or death is rare and more likely due to something congenital.

So medically hickeys are treated like bruises. Generally they're not good for you, but your body should heal. Okay!

That's the medical view. Let's get into the reasons people suck. I asked on Twitter and researched on Reddit and found: to experiment with pain for pleasure, to show off your partner's work, to boast, to feel like a young middle schooler or high schooler, to celebrate a special occasion, to create a reminder over the next week a fun that was had, for hickeys put in less visible places (like the breasts, buttocks, stomach, etc.) it can be a sexy secret.

Other people treat them as testaments like what @dawnbladed describes. "I love seeing my boyfriend with hickeys his other partners gave him! It's my favorite because I know he got some good lovin." There's also marking one's territory, like "This one is sexually active with me! Mine!" And then there's marketing one's territory, like a sign posted that the person is really passionate and/or game for internal bleeding.

Come and get it! Some people like the feeling of them -- not the results -- and some think they're beautiful. Most commonly they're arousing.

Here are some tips for making them nicer. Ask your partner if it's okay first. You could do this with an initial, "What are your thoughts on hickeys?" Or in the heat of the moment, "I'm so into you I might leave marks.

Then pause for their feedback. If they consent, follow up: "Anywhere you don't want me?" Start by kissing the person and building up the sexual tension. Scout out what parts are most receptive to your touch or specifically ask them where they'd like your artwork.

Luke Meadows had his name hickeyed on his stomach by a partner. "Luke" is much easier than "Lindsey," though most of the body is a canvas and you can fit my name if you include other locations. Hands, wrists, arms, or across the butt, maybe hips, stomach, chest, clavicle, neck. Except the carotid triangle because that's where the carotid artery is.

You know, the one that supplies blood to the brain? I suggest testing the area with really gentle nibbles, licks, and kissing. Maybe some light exhales to cool the skin when it's wet.

Use other parts of the body to spread the pleasure around, grabbing and massaging. Listen and watch, if you can, how your partner reacts. Check to see if and how the skin is bruising.

Press a little with your teeth. Gather feedback. Do not bite.

Do not masticate the flesh. Suck, kiss, nuzzle, nibble, kiss, suck, suck, romance the skin with your mouth! Hickeys are best when your passion builds passion in the other person that builds passion in you.

If your partner is limp or closed off, stop and reassess. When you're done or you've moved on to other forms of play, wipe the area off so it isn't all slobbery. Some hickeys will show up quickly; others might take ten minutes or so.

It depends on the person's skin and the aggression of your mouth. At first the color will be red: that's the blood leaking and then pooling. Within one to two days, the hemoglobin carrying iron and oxygen will turn it blue, purple, black.

Five to ten days later, the color will change again to a green or yellow. And finally a few days to a week after that, light brown then healed.

Note: this knowledge can actually be useful if you suspect someone is being abused. You can ask about the timing of their bruises. If they have a yellow bruise for example but say they just walked into the fridge, this could be a red flag. Second note: if the hickey or bruise doesn't heal after two weeks, this would be a reason to seek medical attention.

Hickeys, like other injuries, can be treated. Icing them immediately to reduce the swelling, gently scraping the skin with a comb, brush, or spoon to break up the settled blood, and after a few days applying a warm compress to promote blood flow. A 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology suggests applying hydrogen peroxide might also treat hickeys.

My take is like Katherine Nally's. "I wish hickeys were socially acceptable and everyone wore them proudly. I live for the day when we can celebrate each other's consensual hickeys. Like 'WOW look at that on your shoulder, you rock that tank top!

I'm glad you're having all of your needs met.'" I'm not a huge fan of concealing our sexuality unless you want to, so if you do hear some ideas: scarf, bandana, hair, wig, bandage, collared shirt, collar, hoodie, concealer, zombie makeup, turtleneck. Melissa Febos writes in a beautiful defense of hickeys: "Desire is so often an urge to consume. The sound of sucking means few things, all of them hungry.

It is no wonder, our obsession with vampires... We agree on this fantasy by the billion: devour us, leave us no choice but to surrender. Some kinds of pleasure are closer to pain than others.

Under my mouth, my beloved squirms, hips rising, shoulder clenching, her body resisting and yielding at once. Think of the vampire: all measure and seduction until he tastes, all control loosed in the ravening." So look, if my daughter consents to getting a hickey and you don't for one minute think that you actually own her with that violet stain, then it seems pretty harmless. Just make sure you all stay curious!

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