Piercing bumps refer to any bumps or raised areas that form around a piercing site. These bumps can be caused by a variety of factors, and they come in three different varieties:

  • Keloids
  • Hypertrophic scars
  • Foreign body granulomas

Let's take a quick look at each of them below.

Keloids are usually triggered by trauma to the skin and appear as a raised, firm, rubbery growth.

Hypertrophic scars, similar to keloids, are also triggered by trauma to the skin and appear as a firm, raised bump directly around the piercing.

Foreign body granulomas occur as a response to the the bodys immune system not being able to remove the foreign body and may appear as a fluid-filled bump, often to one side of the piercing.

For those who require a more detailed understanding of piercing bumps, continue reading.

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PIERCING BUMPS: CAUSES, SYMPTOMS, AND TREATMENTS

Body piercing is an exciting form of self-expression and self-exploration, but after getting a new piercing, it's not uncommon to experience raised bumps around the area. If you have noticed one of these bumps on newly pierced skin, you may be wondering what it is and how to treat it.

Fortunately, understanding why these bumps occur and what kind of treatment they require can help make sure that a piercing heals properly. This guide will cover all the different types of piercing bumps, such as keloids, hypertrophic scars, and foreign body granulomas, explaining their causes, symptoms, and treatments making it easier to look after a body piercing safely.

Let's take a deeper look at the different types of piercing bumps and their causes.

KELOID SCARS

Keloids are arguably the most misdiagnosed piercing bumps and are very uncommon compared to hypertrophic scarring and foreign object granulomas.

Keloids tend to form in an area of trauma to the skin and appear as raised, firm, rubbery, fibrous tissue growths. Often pinkish or purple in colour to start and turning darker over time, they occur when the body produces too much collagen to heal the piercing wound and often start to become noticeable from around 3 months to 7 years after the skin trauma. It's worth noting that a keloid scar was once documented as appearing 17 years after a tattoo was done.

Although medical professionals understand what a keloid scar is, it is still not fully understood what happens inside the body for a keloid response to happen or to target specific piercings. To further clarify that statement, imagine a pair of earlobe piercings. It is not uncommon for a keloid to form around only one of the wounds. Why the body would target only one of the piercings is still unknown.

According to the National Health Service (NHS), keloid scars are more likely to develop in people of South Asian, Chinese, African Caribbean, or black African origin. Are aged between 10 and 30 years, are pregnant, or have had a keloid scar before, with the American Academy of Dermatology Association (ADD) adding Latin-American origin as a risk factor.

Even though experts don't fully understand what causes a keloid scar, it is widely agreed that they occur as a result of dysfunctional wound healing caused by the body producing excess collagen during the healing process.

These scars can be itchy, tender, or even painful to the touch. They can vary in size from a few millimetres to several centimetres and will continue to grow in size after the wound has completely healed. Keloid scars will usually grow and extend outward from the original piercing wound.

Areas with more melanin are also more likely to form keloid scars. For example, it is uncommon for a keloid to form on the palm of a hand compared to the chest or ear.

Keloid scars are not cancerous or contagious.

HYPERTROPHIC SCARS

Hypertrophic scars are nearly identical to keloid scars. They are raised, thickened areas of skin that form around the area of a piercing. They are similar to keloid scars in appearance and can also be itchy, tender, or even painful to the touch. They may be red or purplish in colour. It is unlikely they will darken over time.

Just like keloids, hypertrophic scars can occur when there is an excessive amount of collagen produced during the healing process and can target specific piercings.

However, there are some notable differences. While both scar types are essentially the same, hypertrophic scars usually start to appear within the first few weeks of skin trauma and are confined to the original size of the piercing hole, making them much smaller than a keloid. They will not continue to grow after the piercing has healed and may actually start to reduce in size.

Hypertrophic scars are not cancerous or contagious and usually respond very well to treatment.

FOREIGN BODY GRANULOMAS

There are two main types of granulomas: foreign object, and skin. For the purpose of piercing bumps, we will focus on foreign body granulomas.

Foreign body granulomas are another type of piercing bump that can develop after a body piercing and are more commonly found around cartilage and nostril piercings. They are small, round bumps that may be red or purple in colour, can vary in size from a few millimetres to several centimetres, and may contain a whitish fluid.

Granulomas are clusters of white blood cells and other tissue and are typically caused by reactions to infections, inflammation, irritants, or foreign objects. In the case of a new piercing, this could also include an allergic reaction to the jewellery used for the piercing, the materials used for cleaning, or even the skin care products applied afterwards.

A granuloma occurs when the body's immune system reacts negatively to foreign material in the area of a new piercing. This type of reaction causes inflammation, crusting, and itching, which can lead to swelling and redness at the site of the piercing as well as discomfort or pain. It's the body's way of containing or isolating an area of bacterial, viral, or fungal infection so it can try to keep it from spreading or to isolate irritants or foreign objects.

Foreign body granulomas usually respond well to treatments; if left untreated, keloid or hypertrophic scarring could develop.

HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A KELOID, HYPERTROPHIC SCAR AND A FOREIGN BODY GRANULOMA

It's easy to mistake all three types of piercing bumps initially, as they all form a bump at the start. It can be particularly tricky to confuse keloids and hypertrophic scars in the first stages because they are both solid masses of excess scar tissue. They can both look very similar in appearance, with a red, brown, or purplish colour. The easiest way to spot the difference is its size. A keloid will grow away from the piercing site, extending across the surface of the skin if left untreated, while a hypertrophic scar is limited to the size of the wound it accompanies.

Foreign body granulomas, on the other hand, tend to be fluid-filled, soft, and quite often placed to one side of the piercing (but not always).

Keloids and hypertrophic scars form as a result of your body's natural healing mechanism "over-healing" the area. This could be due to excessive movement of the jewellery, trauma, or a collagen or hormone imbalance.

CAUSES OF PIERCING BUMPS

Secondary intention wound healing

All new body piercings are healed using the second intention wound healing method. In its most simple form, this is where the wound (piercing) is left to heal on its own from the bottom of the wound upwards. As opposed to primary intention wound healing, where the opposing sides of the wound would be closed together via stitches, for example, allowing the skin to heal itself.

Secondary intention wound healing forces the body to heal upward to the surface of the skin. Part of this process is collagen production. The collagen gradually moves upwards to the surface of the skin to create a scar. If too much collagen is produced, hypertrophic and keloid scars form.

Additionally, the open wound could allow foreign objects to enter the piercing site, causing your body to create a foreign body granuloma.

Injury to the Skin

Piercing bumps are skin injuries. And it is only through a skin injury that these three types of piercing bumps can occur.

Interesting, though, is that it may be a different type of skin injury that could trigger a piercing bump. Most professional piercers will ensure there is as little trauma to your skin as possible during the piercing process. The jewellery will be seated nice and snug in the hole created by the razor-sharp single-use needle, and all instruments used will be correctly sterilised. Therefore, it is possible for the skin injury that caused the piercing bump to have happened after the piercing procedure.

Twisting, spinning, and moving the piercing jewellery could cause additional skin injury and trauma to the piercing, as could knocking or catching the jewellery.

In the case of a foreign body granuloma, the increased chance of introducing bacteria, fungi, dust, and other debris will be greatly multiplied.

Irritation and Allergic Reactions

Irritation and allergic reactions are some of the most common causes of piercing bumps. Irritation can occur when a piercing is not cleaned and treated properly or when jewellery made from certain materials such as nickel, copper, or stainless steel irritates the skin. Allergic reactions, on the other hand, can be caused by an allergy to metals such as nickel, 9k gold, silver, or certain types of plastic used in body jewellery. Both irritation and allergic reactions can cause inflammation in the area, which can lead to redness, swelling, and pain. It's important that you choose jewellery that is hypoallergenic if you have sensitive skin to avoid any potentially dangerous reactions.

While surgical steel is considered hypoallergenic, it still contains nickel, albeit in such a small amount that it still conforms to the EU nickel directive. However, people who suffer from nickel allergies could develop 'nickel itch'. This isn't an allergic reaction; however, it does cause the wearer to feel a slight itching sensation followed by itching. The itching action itself is what transfers bacteria and other matter from the hands to the new piercing.

Unsanitary Conditions

Maintaining cleanliness around a new piercing is crucial. Regularly washing the area with soap and water, an antibacterial solution, or a sterile isontonic saline solution minimises dirt, oils, and bacteria. Avoid rubbing or scratching the site, as this can disturb the healing process and increase the likelihood of developing a bump.

Seek medical attention if an injury occurs at the piercing site. Untreated wounds can lead to infections that could result in serious bumps like hypertrophic scars, granulomas, or keloid.

Poor health

We all know the benefits of being healthy in body and mind. However, poor health can adversely affect the healing of a new piercing.

The body requires specific nutrients to heal a wound, such as vitamin C, zinc, and protein. A poor diet that deprives the body of these nutrients will affect the healing process.

Other medical conditions such as diabetes, anaemia, and some vascular diseases that restrict blood flow to the area, or any disorder that hinders the immune system, could also result in piercing bumps, as could smoking.

SYMPTOMS OF PIERCING BUMPS

The most common symptoms of piercing bumps include redness, swelling, tenderness, and itching in the affected area. These symptoms can vary depending on the type of bump present. For instance, keloid scars may also be itchy or painful to the touch, while hypertrophic scars may appear redder and more raised than other types of bumps. Granulomas may also be itchy or painful and could cause discomfort or pain when touched. In some cases, infections in the area can also lead to pus formation, which can make the area inflamed, swollen, and red.

Additionally, individuals who have piercing bumps may notice that their jewellery feels uncomfortable or irritating in the affected area. If any of these symptoms persist for more than a few days after getting a piercing, it's important to consult with a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

TREATMENTS FOR PIERCING BUMPS

The treatment of a piercing bump would depend on the type of bump, and also each treatment may not work for everyone.

Avoid Home Remedies

It is important to remember that piercing bumps are a medical condition and should be treated as such. Home remedies, while often tempting, can actually do more harm than good when it comes to treating piercing bumps.

Many home remedies, such as applying lemon juice, toothpaste, or other acidic products to the skin around piercings, can cause further irritation and inflammation. Additionally, many home remedies may also contain ingredients that are abrasive or irritating to the skin and could cause further complications. Therefore, it is best to avoid any home remedies for treating piercing bumps and instead consult with a medical professional for advice on proper treatment options.

Changing Jewellery and Cleaning the Area Properly

As we have already mentioned, piercing bumps can make jewellery uncomfortable to wear. The jewellery requirements, including size, material, and style, will not be the same as when the piercing was first done. It will need to be changed to accommodate the new bump.

Changing out jewellery for piercings with a piercing bump is one of the most important steps for treating piercing bumps. It's important to use high-quality jewellery that is made from safe, hypoallergenic materials and to avoid any cheap or low-quality metals.

Additionally, cleaning the area properly is essential for healing the affected area and preventing infection. This means using mild soap and warm water to cleanse the piercing daily, as well as an isotonic, sterile saline solution such as PIERCEMED. It's also important to avoid swimming in bodies of water until the area has healed completely, as bacteria and other microorganisms could enter the wound and cause further issues.

If individuals are concerned about their piercing bump not healing on its own, they should consult with their doctor before attempting any other treatments.

Laser Therapy and  Steroids or Antibiotics

Laser therapy and steroids or antibiotics are two common treatments used to reduce the size of a piercing bump. Laser therapy works by targeting specific areas of the skin to reduce inflammation and swelling, while injections of either steroids or antibiotics can help reduce the size of the bump. For laser therapy, short bursts of light are used to break down any excess tissue around the piercing site, which helps to reduce redness, itching, and scarring.

Steroids or antibiotics can also be highly effective in reducing inflammation, swelling, and pain associated with piercing bumps by providing anti-inflammatory agents that can help reduce irritation and alleviate discomfort. Both treatments should only be done under doctor supervision, as incorrect use may lead to further complications such as infection or scarring.

PREVENTION OF PIERCING BUMPS

When it comes to preventing piercing bumps, there are several steps that can be taken before getting a piercing. Make sure to always get piercings from a professional and reputable source to minimise infection risk. Prior to the procedure, make sure that the area is thoroughly cleaned with a gentle soap or cleanser designed for piercings. Additionally, opt for hypoallergenic jewellery made of materials such as titanium, or niobium, as these are considered less likely to cause an allergic reaction than other cheaper metals. It's also important not to over-clean the piercing afterwards, as this can strip away natural oils produced by the body and introduce bacteria into the wound, which can lead to infection.

It's important to keep the pierced area covered at all times (where possible) with clean clothing or sterile, breathable island dressing and avoid any activities that may put the area in contact with dirt, bacteria, or other irritants.

Following these simple steps can help prevent piercing bumps and keep the piercing site healthy and looking its best.

People who are prone to keloid formation may not be suitable candidates for piercings because the additional trauma from the piercing site could lead to further scarring. Before making any decision, those with a history of keloids should discuss their options and potential risks associated with body piercings with a professional. With proper research and consultation, it's possible to find the right form of body modification that meets a particular need without worrying about developing a keloid.

COMMON MYTHS ABOUT PIERCING BUMPS

There are a number of myths and misunderstandings surrounding piercing bumps, particularly regarding their causes and treatments. One popular misconception is that keloids and hypertrophic scars can be caused by jewellery that is too tight or made from the wrong material. This isn't true; the cause of these types of piercing bumps is usually related to trauma or an imbalance in collagen production when healing a wound rather than any issues with the jewellery itself.

Another common myth about piercing bumps is that they cannot be treated. This simply isn't true; there are a number of effective treatments available for all three types of piercing bumps.

It's also important to understand that treating a piercing bump isn't just about removing the bump itself; it's also important to address any underlying factors that may have caused it in the first place. For example, if you had an infection before getting a new piercing, it's important to ensure that it has been fully treated before attempting any other treatment methods; otherwise, the bump could come back again after it has been removed.

Piercing guns are often seen as a safe and convenient way to get pierced, but in reality, they can be incredibly dangerous. Piercing guns are not designed for body piercings, and they can cause serious damage to the tissue at and around the piercing site. Piercing guns are not sterile and can cause infections due to their lack of sterility, with bacteria being passed between customers. Furthermore, many body piercers do not recommend using piercing guns since they tend to be less precise than other methods, leading to crooked or misaligned piercings, which may require more complicated healing processes. In short, while it may seem like an easier option, piercing guns are not a safe method for getting body piercings and should be avoided whenever possible.

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR FOR A PIERCING BUMP

If you notice any signs of infection or discomfort around your piercing, don't hesitate to contact a healthcare professional. Ignoring these symptoms can lead to serious complications and increase the risk of infection. Look out for symptoms such as redness, swelling, tenderness, warmth, itching, and yellow or green fluid oozing from the piercing area. Remember, seeking medical attention as soon as possible can prevent further problems and promote faster healing.

If these symptoms persist for more than a few days after getting pierced, a doctor should be consulted right away in order to diagnose and treat the condition. In addition to seeking medical attention for signs of infection, it's also important to visit a doctor if you suspect you have developed keloid or hypertrophic scarring due to a piercing bump. A doctor can provide treatment options such as laser therapy and steroid injections, which can help reduce the size and appearance of these types of scars.

It's worth noting that hypertrophic scars will gradually fade over time. A keloid will continue to grow even after the wound has healed. See Scars

PIERCING AFTERCARE TIPS

Maintain a Healthy Mind and Body:

The best piercing care requires a healthy body and mind. A balanced diet and regular exercise can aid in the promotion of healing and lower the risk of infection. Additionally, it's critical to maintain good hygiene and take good care of your body piercings by cleaning them every day with a mild soap or an isotonic, sterile saline spray made specifically for body piercings. Use gentle soaps instead of harsh ones, and steer clear of products with additional perfumes since these can irritate the skin and slow recovery. When out in public or engaging in activities that could expose the pierced area to dirt, bacteria, or other irritants that could cause infections, it's also crucial to keep the area covered (if at all possible).

Get some rest and take it easy

Getting enough rest and taking it easy is an essential part of proper piercing aftercare. Resting allows your body to focus its energy on healing the pierced area, decreasing the chance of infection and irritation. Make sure to get plenty of sleep for at least 8 hours each night, as well as take regular breaks throughout the day, in order to reduce stress levels and give your body some time to rest. Additionally, avoid any strenuous physical activities such as exercise or sports while your piercing is healing, as these can cause further trauma or sweating, which may lead to infection. Sticking to lighter activities such as walking or light stretching is best until the piercing has completely healed.

Consider Taking a Multivitamin

Taking a multivitamin supplement can help promote healing and reduce the risk of infection following the piercing. Multivitamins contain essential nutrients that are necessary for optimal skin health and can help strengthen the immune system during the healing process. Additionally, vitamins such as vitamin A and E may be beneficial in helping to reduce inflammation and scarring in the area around the piercing. It is important to consult with a doctor or healthcare professional before taking any type of vitamin supplement, as some may interfere with other medications or treatments. Taking a multivitamin with zinc can also help increase wound healing and further reduce the risk of infection around piercings.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Piercing bumps can be managed with proper aftercare and hygiene:

  • Cleanse the pierced area twice daily with a gentle soap or sterile isotonic saline spray specifically designed for body piercings.
  • Take a multivitamin supplement to provide essential nutrients necessary for optimal skin health during the healing process.
  • Maintaining a healthy mind and body, getting adequate rest, and taking a multivitamin supplement can all help promote healing and decrease the chance of infection or complications.
  • If any signs of infection or discomfort are present, seeking medical attention right away is essential in order to prevent further issues.

If you develop a piercing bump, don't worry ; it's a common issue that can be treated with patience and persistence. However, it's important to always speak with a qualified professional before making any decisions regarding piercings or body modification.

To treat a piercing bump, proper aftercare and hygiene are key. Clean the area twice daily with a gentle soap or cleanser specifically designed for body piercings, and avoid products containing added fragrances that may irritate the skin. Taking multivitamin supplements can also provide essential nutrients for optimal skin health and help strengthen the immune system during the healing process.

With proper aftercare and treatment, a piercing bump should not cause long-term damage or scarring.