You have received that adorable new piercing that you have been dreaming of for months and you are starting to form unsightly bumps around the piercing site. Oh oh.
Bumps are quite common during the healing process for cartilage piercings. Cartilage heals more slowly than your earlobes, making them more prone to irritation, infection, and other healing problems.
Fortunately, the vast majority of piercing bumps will go away on their own. There are a few treatment options your piercer may recommend, but for the most part the best thing you can do for your piercing bumps is to keep taking care of your cartilage and giving them time.
However, there are some misconceptions about piercing bumps that can create some anxiety, especially when trying to self-diagnose your bump using online resources. To allay your fears, here is a guide on how to pierce bumps, treatments, and common myths.
Diagnosis of penetrating bumps
Whether you have a cold or a pervasive complication, self-diagnosing a problem is never a good idea. If you develop a piercing bump, it is best to see a reputable piercer. There you will learn where the bump came from and how to treat it.
The internet will tell you a lot of scary things when trying to self-diagnose your piercing bump. Do yourself a favor and visit your piercer instead.
We understand that sometimes it is nice to do some of your own research before visiting your piercer. That’s why we’ve put together a description of the most common bumps. Remember, it is always best to have a piercer take a look and confirm rather than diagnose yourself.
I have a pimple-like red bump next to my piercing
You may have a pustule (sometimes called a piercing pimple). A pustule forms for a number of reasons: You have a tiny, localized infection, your pores are blocked, or the area is irritated. Pustules can appear on new piercings or piercings that are many years old. All in all, pustules are pretty small and easy to treat.
To avoid pustules, keep the piercing area clean, practice proper aftercare, and avoid touching the piercing area. Unfortunately, you can do everything right and a pustule can still form.
Although you may be tempted, don’t let it pop or touch by yourself. The oils on your skin and the added trauma only make the pustule worse. You need to promote drainage with saline solution or warm compresses.
The pustule should eventually go away. If it continues to show up, contact your piercer.
My piercing has a raised pink or white bump that appeared a few weeks after the piercing
Hypertrophic scars can occur. If you’ve got a scar before, it is a hypertrophic scar. It occurs when too much collagen is produced during healing and it can happen to anyone. Hypertrophic scars almost always go away on their own after a certain period of time.
Hypertrophic scars often occur after trauma to the piercing site. This could be due to poor piercing practices, jewelry that is too small, or jewelry that has been caught or played with too often. It is therefore imperative that you leave the jewelry alone and keep it free of hooks while it heals.
Unfortunately, hypertrophic scars sometimes appear no matter what you do. Don’t worry too much; these will eventually go away by themselves.
Healing from hypertrophic scars is mostly about giving it time. When the extra collagen breaks down, the bump will go away on its own and you can barely see the scar.
You may have read that you should put pressure on the hypertrophic scar to make it go away. This can actually cause more damage to the healing piercing and is a bad practice. You best wait.
It’s always a good idea to see your piercer to confirm that the scar is hypertrophic and not some other type of bump that needs treatment.
My piercing has small, reddish bumps that are itchy and uncomfortable
These types of bumps are likely caused by irritation. A healing piercing is very delicate and a number of things can cause irritation, including chemicals from soaps and shampoos, and poor jewelry materials.
Irritation occurs for a number of reasons and can feel a little uncomfortable, like having dry skin. Contact your piercer to get to the bottom of these types of bumps.
The best way to avoid these type of bumps is to practice perfect aftercare, choose appropriate starter jewelry (like 14k gold, platinum, or implant grade titanium), and keep all products away from your medicinal piercing except piercing aftercare solutions.
When these bumps appear, the best thing to do is to visit your piercing to find out why they are there. You can swap out your jewelry or adjust your aftercare routine to keep your sensitive skin healthy.
I have a different type of bulge
Some bumps occur for other reasons. You may have been pierced incorrectly, the jewelry may be too small, or your body may be reacting negatively to something.
One reason why it is so important to visit your piercer rather than diagnose your piercing bump yourself is that there are many reasons your bump can appear. When you have a piercer looking at your bump, you will be asked a few questions to help determine what is wrong and what treatment option to choose. Sometimes the treatment option that is best for one piercing bump can make another worse. So you really want to have a professional guide.
If you have a piercing bump that won’t go away and you’ve seen your piercer several times, it’s a good idea to get a second opinion.
A note about keloids
The internet is full of misinformation when it comes to keloids and piercings. If numerous blogs are to be believed, keloids are widely used in piercings.
Are you afraid of having a keloid? Do not be. It is very unlikely that the bump you developed on your piercing was a keloid.
In fact, keloids are a more serious genetic disorder that only affects about 10% of the population. They can appear in any wound, including minor insect bites. So, if you’ve never had a keloid before, you are almost guaranteed not to grow a keloid on your piercing.
Keloids occur after the piercing has healed, and they are bulbous, discolored, and grow outside the piercing area. If your bump is small, occurs as it is healing, and only appears on or near the piercing site, you will be relieved to know that it is not a keloid.
General shock care
Whenever you see a piercing bump, it’s always a good idea to visit your piercer. While many piercing bumps only take time to heal, other piercing bumps may need to be adjusted for your jewelry or aftercare and your piercer can guide you in the right direction.
Some piercing bumps occur due to poor piercing practices. If you have been pierced by a piercer who is not a member of the Association of Professional Piercers, who has used poor materials – such as externally threaded jewelry – or who has given bad aftercare advice (such as using tea tree oil to heal piercings recommended) then this is a sign that your piercer is an amateur. In this case, it is a good idea to consult a more reputable piercer so they can tell you if you need to heal the piercing and have it repaired later.
The good news is that most bumps can be avoided through careful aftercare practices. Simply clean your piercing 2-3 times a day with a saline solution for piercing aftercare, do not touch or twist the jewelry, and be careful not to pinch the jewelry. It is very likely that you will avoid piercing bumps altogether.
If you have any doubts about the health of your piercing, it is important to reach out to your local APP piercer for advice. If you feel that your piercing is infected, see a doctor for appropriate treatment. If you follow the right steps and it doesn’t look or feel infected, there is a good chance that your piercing will heal well after a while. The key is to keep it clean and not mess around with wearing the correct jewelry and be patient as it can take a few days to a few months for your piercing to be in optimal health.