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A hickey is a temporary bruise that occurs when one partner sucks/bites on the other's skin for a prolonged period, causing blood to run into the surrounding tissue. The coloring of a hickey can vary depending on how hard the suction/biting is and the recipient's skin tone. Generally, the bruises are initially red in color and then develop into darker, purple blemishes. Hickeys are most commonly used like kissing - as a form of foreplay.
Hickeys may also be known as love bites, passion marks or hater marks.
Hickeys are usually given in areas of the body where the skin is soft, such as the neck and arms. Hickeys can be given in other areas, however, as long as suction can occur and the blood vessels are close to the surface of the skin, such as on the back or thighs.
Giving and receiving hickeys can be a fun type of foreplay for a consenting couple. However, because hickeys are essentially bruises that will require time to heal, caution should be exercised in selecting target areas for partners who are concerned about their hickeys being visible.