Get rid of a Viola Hickey?
September 26, 2009 8:11 PM   Subscribe

How to get rid of a viola "hickey"?

I play viola, and I have a "viola hickey". It's reddish and rough on the underside of my chin where it goes on the skin rest. Any viola/violin players now how to get rid of it? I'm a guy, so makeup wouldn't really work. Here's a picture of one (not mine).
posted by kylej to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
I don't know of anything other than makeup to make the hickey go away instantly, but additional padding on the chin rest helped my hickey go from screaming red to much less noticeable over a matter of weeks. Do you use anything to cover or pad chin rest (like a Strad Pad or something similar)? The Strad Pad works really well for me - it isn't bulky at all, and it's just enough extra padding/reduction of friction to reduce the mark. YMMV.

I used other padding solutions prior to the Strad Pad, but they didn't work as well - even soft flannel was really too rough and contributed to the hickey.
posted by Knicke at 8:31 PM on September 26, 2009

BTW, I still get a mark after a long session of playing the violin - I don't think that's avoidable unless you really change the way you hold the instrument - but it fades reasonably quickly once I'm done playing.
posted by Knicke at 8:36 PM on September 26, 2009

It's been years since I played the viola. When I was in elementary school our instructor had us bring in slim kitchen sponges (new and soft, not used and crusty) and she cut them to fit perfectly between our chins and the instruments. They were smushy enough to not create friction, and they were very comfortable. Maybe that will work for you if the silliness of using a kitchen sponge doesn't matter.
posted by amyms at 8:48 PM on September 26, 2009

I play bass, so I don't have an answer. But, I can tell you, don't use a kitchen sponge, that's going to be more abrasive than the chinrest.
posted by Netzapper at 10:56 PM on September 26, 2009

When I played for hours a day, a teacher suggested using a small scarf or handkerchief draped over the chinrest, and that did seem to help. But to be honest, I used to see the mark as a badge of honour, and was quite pleased to get one.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:58 PM on September 26, 2009

haha i'm actually with i_am_joe's_spleen on this one. i was always sad that i had too much padding on the neck/chin area to develop a good hickey (mine was always very faint). my friends were more like you, though, and used towels or special pads that they sell in music stores. sorry i can't give you more details, but they swear by them (and are hickey-free). you could practice with things like that and take them off for actual performances if you don't want to look "stupid" (though honestly, a lot of musicians I know use something about the chin rest for the sake of comfort).
posted by mittenedsex at 11:08 PM on September 26, 2009

Some ideas here and here. Some hard-core classical players insist that they're unavoidable, but many I know have found that by using a soft cloth covering the chinrest (washed frequently), or experimenting with a different style of chinrest (or one with the metal parts made of something hypoallergenic- most are nickel-plated), or disinfecting the chinrest frequently they can minimize or eliminate it.

Swapping the chinrest out is something that lots of string players don't think to do, but there a lot of different styles available and you may find that one may fit your body much, much better than the one your viola came with.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:45 PM on September 26, 2009

One more link with some Acutal Medical Information here.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:51 PM on September 26, 2009

This might be helpful
posted by nursegracer at 2:00 AM on September 27, 2009

Don't know about viola hickeys, but some witch hazel dabbed with a cotton ball onto (ahem) other hickies can make them clear up much faster.

Witch hazel has astrigent properties, and helps shrink inflamed blood vessels back to normal size. You should be able to pick it up at a pharmacy.
posted by alight at 7:46 AM on September 27, 2009

I had mine for almost fifteen years. I thought it would probably never go away, but I haven't played with any frequency for about a year and a half and it's gone.

In the short term, a square of silk or a soft washcloth laid on your shoulder then folded up over the chin rest of the viola will either do away with it entirely or at least minimize it. My teacher played 8+ hours per day and never had one by using this trick -- personally it drove me crazy to have anything between my neck and the wood of the chin rest, which is why mine was particularly bad. Either way, I don't think it's anything to be ashamed of.
posted by telegraph at 9:37 AM on September 27, 2009

Seconding the silk pocket square idea. It never completely worked for me, but at least it's soothing. Maybe you could combine it with the sponge idea and stitch up a covering? Worth a shot!
posted by aquafortis at 10:37 AM on September 27, 2009

Maybe a compact powder puff (the thin ones)?
posted by stormpooper at 9:12 AM on September 28, 2009

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