The most common cause for trouble in piercings are:
- You switched jewelry too early. This can cause irritation of the fistula and can sometimes cause things like piercing pimples or scarring as a consequence. A piercing heals from the outside in. Even when it seems healed, it’s often still healing on the inside and thus it is still very fragile. Therefor, do not change the jewelry too early. Or have it changed by a professional in sterile circumstances. Also, do not underestimate the speed at which the hole can shrink or close. To be able to reinsert the jewelry afterwards, can be very difficult. You could want to try using a taper or insertion pin and a water based lubricant or some skin friendly but mild oil.
- When you just changed the jewelry, the fistual can sometimes become slightly irritated. If it lasts longer than a week you might want to switch back to your old jewelry. Always consult your trusted piercer for advice.
- Emotional stress or hormonal changes can also make your piercings flare up. A piercing is a scar after all. Scars react differently than “normal” skin. Stress, illness, weakness can give you troubles with your piercing. Itchiness, tingling, humidity, sensitivity, or sensitivity to touch are things you could be dealing with. Luckily this is mostly temporary. Leaving it alone and keeping it clean will mostly do the trick.
- The jewelry can be of lesser quality or there is hypersensitivity to certain materials the jewelry is made of. This can irritate your piercing and slow down healing.
- The product you’re using to take care of the piercing could be too aggressive. This can also slow down the healing process. Betadine, Iodine, Dettol, alcohol, Sterilon, hydrogen peroxide, benzalkonium chloride and other antiseptics or anti bacterial products are discouraged to use for the daily care of your new piercing or irritated or infected piercing. Well, at least never use mild antibacterial solutions longer than two weeks after getting your piercing. This because systematic use of an antiseptic kills the bad bacteria as well as the good ones. This slows down healing, prevents your body from doing it’s work and hurts it’s immune system defenses.
- Hair could have gotten caught in your jewelry. Another reason not to wear “regular” earrings in your piercings. The butterfly backing of it can easily harbor bacteria and get hairs tangled up around it. This way bacteria can be held and this can lead to an infection. Hygiene is a very important key word when it comes to healing any wound. So keep a good daily hygiene routine, stay off the jewelry, regularly wash your bed linens, clothing and your hands of course, brush your teeth twice daily, take good care or your piercing by giving it it’s daily saline soak (once or twice). Keep in mind that bacteria can actually walk around. Avoid dust or dirt, or dirty environments. If these cannot be avoided, make sure you rinse the piercing under clean running water, regularly. Wash your hands after going to the bathroom or blowing your nose… When showering, take care of your piercing lastly and be sure to rinse the spot to ensure there is no soap residue left behind.
- The piercing doesn’t get enough “rest”. Maybe you move the piercing too much or you wear pants with a waist that causes friction with your navel piercing or you wear a hat or other headdress that causes friction on your piercing… Do not remove crusties or scabs! They will fall off by themselves eventually.
- Avoid swimming waters or steam saunas during healing. If not, this can lead to serious infections.
- Make sure you dry your piercing with paper towels, instead of your regular bath towel. Do not use tissues, toilet paper, cotton pads or q-tips!
- A piercing can also be itchy. In most cases it itches when it’s healing. What you’re feeling is actually the nerves building new connections and testing these by sending signals to the brain. The signals are the itchiness.
A wound heals as follows: First, it bleeds. The bleeding helps to collect potential pathogenic bacteria and flush them out. After this, the veins and capillaries shrink and blood coagulates. Coagulated blood and lymph, together, form a scab that protects the skin from dehydration and dirty particles. Underneath the scab, new skin is formed. First, fragile, bumpy tissue, red in color, that bleeds easily. Skin tissue grows over that and this way the wound is closed up. The scab will eventually fall off. The scab is never to be removed beforehand.
An irritated piercing is sensitive but not painful. It’s often swollen, but not painful. And you surely don’t have any other bodily symptoms. It doesn’t secrete puss but probably some lymph. Lymph is transparent and thin, watery. It often leaves yellow-ish crusties when dry.
- it’s red
- it’s very swollen
- it’s painful (not sensitive or gives a burning sensation but truly painful)
- it’s warm
- you might even experience nausea, fever, overal under the weather.
- Puss is secreted by the wound.
Luckily an infection can also stay small and local. Mostly we’re dealing with a small red bump next to or on toop of your piercing hole. These occur mostly from friction such as twisting or turing the jewelry or ill fitting jewelry.
These are called piercing pimples. These have one or more of the following properties:
- A small bump filled with puss, or a pimple next to your piercing.
- It is red and slightly infected but it stays local
- It can be sore, sensitive, itchy or feel hot or give a burning feeling. Even though some are entirely painless.
- It oozes often puss or blood when it’s pinched or drained.
Here’s an example of hypergranulation tissue on the front and a piercing pimple on the back
You can do some of these things to fight a piercing pimple:
- Warm saline soaks
- Chamomile tea compress
N.B.: Only try one remedy at a time. It can take up to two weeks to see results. Always start with the saline first.
Another example of a piercing pimple
But when is the piercing really healed then?
- There’s no more lymph coming out
- The scabs and crusties are gone
- It’s no longer sore or painful
- Your skin regained normal colour
- Minimum healing period has passed