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High Quality? Part 12 – Lumps and Bumps

Lumps and Bumps are a common occurrence in piercing. The vast majority are easy to deal with but take some time to go down. This blogs aim is to show you how to minimise the chance of bumps in the first place and also how to get bumps to go if you do get one. DISCLAIMER: We are not medical practitioners at Rogue. If you are concerned that your piercing is infected then seek out professional help from a dermatologist.

Lumps and Bumps - a piercing bump on a nose piercing
A piercing bump on a nose piercing

The vast majority of piercing bumps are NOT keloids or hypertrophic scars. The vast majority of piercing bumps are trapped fluid and are known as irritation bumps. A piercings official name in the medical world is a “Draining wound”. A piercing needs to be able to drain fluid to promote healing and keep pathogens out. This fluid dries and becomes the crust/secretion that piercers advise you to clean.

Irritation bumps are small bumps that form at the entrance or exit of a piercing. They can be caused by a wide array of issues. The main causes being poorly placed piercing, bad piercing angle, incorrect fitting jewellery, low quality jewellery, poor aftercare regime or lifestyle. Once the source of irritation has been found and remedied the bump will start to dry out and drain until it fully disappears.

Lumps and Bumps - A keloid scar on a lobe
A keloid scar on a lobe

Keloids are actually quite a rare occurrence within piercing. The medical world is still studying the cause of keloid scarring but it is now generally thought to be something that is passed on through genetics. Darker skinned clients can be more prone to keloid scars. A keloid scar is an overproduction of scar tissue that doesn’t stop growing and are very large. If you have had one keloid then you are likely to get more keloids in the future. If you think you have a real keloid on your piercing then you will need to contact a dermatologist as this is out of the scope of a piercer.

Lumps and Bumps - A hypertrophic scar
A hypertrophic scar

Hypertrophic scars can appear similar to keloid scars except that they form and then stop growing. Hypertrophic scars are generally darker than the skin around them as they have an excess of collagen within them. Hypertrophic scars look similar to surgical scars and again are outside of the scope of a piercer and will require a dermatologist. Hypertrophic scars are uncommon in piercing but can form if an irritation bump is left for a long period of time. Hypertrophic scars can go down on their own by installing correctly fitting jewellery. Daily massages with a vitamin e oil have been shown to reduce hypertrophic scars.

Avoiding Bumps

Lumps and Bumps - A well healed pair of nose piercings
Well placed, correctly sized rings in nostril piercings that have healed with no bumps

The best way to avoid lumps and bumps is to make sure you get pierced by an experienced piercer. If a piercing is placed where it is working against the anatomy or at a bad angle the likelihood of bumps forming is high due. An experienced piercer will talk you through placement positions to get the smoothest heal, select the correct size of jewellery and pierce at a good angle.

Downsizing after your initial swelling has gone down is another important way to avoid bumps. If the jewellery is left too large then it is likely to apply pressure to the piercing or get snagged a lot. Pressure and snags will irritate the piercing and cause the body to form bumps.

Wearing quality jewellery is key to a piercing healing well and this includes avoiding bumps. If the jewellery material is not safe for the body, the surface finish is rough or the design scratches the body then the piercing will become irritated and form a bump. We talk about quality a lot but it really is important to having well healed, beautiful piercings.

Caring for and Removing Lumps and Bumps

It is possible to get lumps and bumps to go down and heal nicely by following some simple rules:

1. Minimise all touching and prevent movement of the jewellery – a piercing being touched or moved means that the body is dealing with pressure and damage to the piercing channel. The first step is to make sure you aren’t touching your piercing and that nothing is pressing or pulling the piercing. Tight fitting clothing, headphones and sleeping habits are prime culprits to avoid here

2. No picking or scratching – You may be tempted to try and pick the bump away. Do NOT do this as the bump will just come back larger than before and you will open your piering up to risk of infection.

2. Get correctly sized jewellery fitted – if you never went back for a downsize or you think that the jewellery you have fitted is the wrong size then a simple step is to go and see your piercer and have them assess the piercing for you. If you are wearing an incorrect size they will be able to swap to the correct size smoothly to prevent damage to the piercing.

3. Wear higher quality jewellery – if the jewellery you are wearing has a poor surface finish, is made of unsafe materials, has exposed screw threads, is damaged or has a coating on then this may be causing the irritation bump. Swapping to a better quality piece will remove these sources of irritation

4. Aftercare solutions – making sure you are using a gentle aftercare regime that doesn’t involve any harsh chemicals (surgical spirit, hydrogen peroxide etc) and you aren’t pulling or moving the piercing during cleaning is an important part to getting bumps to go. Sterile saline solution is the preferred cleaning solution as it is gentle.

5. Home made remedies – Home made remedies from the internet will NOT help a bump go down. The bump may go away temporarily but it will return if the source of irritation hasn’t been found. We have come across a whole plethora of bad advice on the internet. Always remember that piercings need to be treated gently. Aspirin paste, tea tree oil and other chemicals have no place in caring for bumps. Aspirin paste is a type of acid that ‘burns’ the bump off only to have it return. Tea tree oil will block Oxygen from the healing cells and trap moisture in the bump so it cannot shrink. Salt pastes will dry the skin out, damage healing cells and cause ‘salt burn’ to the area.

If you would like more information about lumps and bumps then check out the website of our good friends at Holier Than Thou in Manchester here. Their head piercer Helen is a UKAPP member that helps the industry understand bumps through classes at the annual UKAPP conference.

If you would like help working out what is causing your bump and finding a way to make it go down then book a free piercing check up and one of our team will help you out.

Have a good week everyone! We’ll be back next week with a blog all about how to stretch ear lobes (and other piercings).