When Good Piercings Go Bad

If you're worried you may have an infected piercing, experiencing an allergic reaction to your body jewelry, or developeing a keloid or hypertrophic scar, our piercing pictures of "good piercings gone bad" will help you identify what type of problem you're experiencing so you can take appropriate next steps to combat the issue.

 

Piercing ProblemsProblem Piercing Pictures

You can develop 2 different types of allergies after getting a piercing: You may be allergic to the material your body jewelry is made of, or you may have an allergic reaction to your cleanser.

This piercing photo shows the navel of someone who developed a rash by constantly using undiluted liquid soap on their new piercing. Too much cleaning can be just as harmful as not enough cleaning!

An allergy to the material your body jewelry is made of--which typically only occurs with jewelry that has a high nickel content--can look very similar.

Piercing Allergies

Many times people who develop a hypertrophic scar after getting pierced assume they have a keloid. Keloids are more unusual than hypertrophic scars. People tend to either have a genetic predisposition to keloids or they don't, and keloids usually grow exponentially, whereas a hypertrophic scar typically stays fairly small/concentrated around the piercing. To learn more about keloids, visit our So You Think You Have a Keloid? article.

Hypertrophic scars, as shown in the sample hypertrophic scar piercing pictures to the right, are very common with body piercings. They're usually the result of infection or trauma. Sometimes hypertrophic scars will subside with time and proper aftercare. If you develop a hypertrophic scar around your piercing that doesn't subside with time, speak to a dermatologist about ways to minimize it.

We do not recommend using vitamin E oil on your piercing scars even though it's a super healer, because it can clog the fistula (i.e. hole where you were pierced), potentially trapping in bacteria and leading to infection.

Hypertrophic Scar Piercing Picture

Hypertrophic Scar Picture

Here are some pictures that show a degree of granulation. Granulation tissue is new connective tissue that forms on the surface of a piercing or other wound during the healing process. This excessive tissue growth may look especially pink or red and somewhat bumpy (i.e. granular) until the wound is fully healed. A network of tiny blood vessels forms within this granular tissue to bring better blood flow to the area, remove waste, and promote healing. It will likely subside once the piercing is fully healed, but if it doesn't go away on its own, see a dermatologist. S/he may treat it with silver nitrate to reduce the excess tissue.

Granular Piercing Scars

Some piercing problems are the result of poor piercing procedures or innappropriate body jewelry. For instance, your piercer may have failed to use sterile tools and/or body jewelry. Or, you may have jewelry that isn't long enough to account for the initial swelling that typically occurs with a new piercing. If at any point your piercing is "swallowing up" your jewelry, as shown in these piercing pictures, contact your piercer right away. S/he can change your jewelry out for a longer piece that won't put pressure on the healing fistula, which can lead to necrosis (tissue death) and infection. 

It's also important to make sure your jewelry is the right gauge for your piercing. For instance, nipple piercing jewelry should preferably be 14g or larger to prevent the "cheese cutter effect", where the jewelry slowly migrates to the surface of your skin and eventually falls out, sometimes leaving an unsightly scar. This is also true with surface piercings like eyebrow piercings; your jewelry needs to be a heavy enough gauge to avoid migration/rejection.

Nipple Piercing With Jewelry That's Too Short

Swollen Tragus Piercing

There are a variety of potential problems that can occur with tongue piercings, even when they're properly done. You may experience gumline recession or chip a tooth. If your jewelry is too large or too small, or if the piercing was done at a poor angle, additional issues can occur. For instance, in the 1st tongue piercing picture to the right, the large acrylic ball on the bottom was constantly pressing into that person's lower jaw and loosened the tooth sockets of the front-right incisor. In the second photo, you can see an X-ray of that same person's teeth. Note how pressure from the large acrylic ball in the previous image caused resorption of the bone of the tooth socket for the central incisor. The black area around the tooth root is where the bone was lost. To help prevent this, use a small acrylic ball on the bottom of the barbell.

In the third tongue piercing picture to the right, you can see how a small lip of tissue formed around the top of the fistula (i.e. piercing hole). That's a common occurrence in new piercings that typically will disappear spontaneously over time.

If your tongue ring is too long, the tissue may swell and a white ulcer may develop where the ball has been pressing into the bottom of the mouth. This is also a temporary and easily corrected issue. You just need to get your piercer to help you put in a slightly shorter tongue barbell.

The last picture shows the tongue of someone who had excessive swelling after having their tongue pierced. The tongue barbell is too short, causing the ball to be "swallowed" by the tongue. This can also be easily corrected with a jewelry change.

It's very important to make sure you have properly-fitting jewelry to avoid the tongue piercing issues shown here. If you have any concerns about the length of your jewelry or size/type of balls on your tongue barbell, contact your piercer right away. 

Tooth Issues From Tongue Piercings

X-Ray of Tooth Issues From Tongue Piercings

Excessive Tissue Formation Around Tongue Piercing

Tongue Piercing Picture: Ulcer Under Tongue From Excessively-Long Tongue Barbell

Picture of Swollen Tongue Piercing & Barbell That's Too Short

Photographs are property of http://www.body-piercing.com.au. Copyright © 2001 Sydney Medical Body-Piercing Clinic