It is not uncommon for piercings to smell bad. This can happen to piercings at any stage of healing. Sometimes, old, well-established piercings can be the smelliest ones. Why does this problem occur and how to prevent it?
Your body secretes sebum, a substance created by sebaceous glands in the skin. This is an oily substance that is very common: it exists to lubricate and protect the skin. However, if sebum gets mixed with dirt and dead skin cells, it will turn smelly in no time. You can notice sebum mixed with dirt as an oily, soft discharge around the piercing hole and on jewelry. Chances are that it will be slightly sticky. This is what causes bad smell.
In order to prevent this bad smell, make sure to clean your jewelry and piercing hole regularly. Do not let dirt, bacteria and dead skin cells accumulate around the jewelry and piercing hole. Make sure to wash areas around the piercing regularly (for example, during a shower.) However, do not use harsh chemicals on your piercings: this can irritate them and cause further trouble. After showering, make sure to dry your piercing properly.
While bad smell is typically not a big deal, keep in mind that it can be a sign of more serious problems. Infections can cause piercings to smell bad. In case your piercing becomes swollen or if there is pus coming out of the piercing hole, it is a clear sign of infection. Infected piercings will also be red, tender to touch and will produce discharge. If you notice these signs, make sure to consult your doctor.
| Top |
Swelling (See also: Infections)
Swelling is a common piercing problem, but it might be a warning sign. Keep in mind that some swelling after getting a piercing done is expected and normal. This is why it’s important to know how to tell a difference between a normal swelling and the one that signifies a problem.
It is common for a piercing site to swell right after being pierced. This is a somewhat normal reaction, particularly for certain body parts. It is even more common in the case of surface piercings. This type of swelling should subside in a few days. You should notice your piercing getting better and swelling going away gradually. If you want to know more about how much swelling to expect with a specific piercing, make sure to ask your piercer before getting your piercing done.
However, there is also a bad type of swelling, the one that signifies an infection or another problem. This type of swelling can occur with new piercings, as well as older and well-established piercings. This is particularly true for the excessive, painful swelling that seems to be getting worse and worse with each hour. Any swelling that appears with an older piercing is a warning sign. For new piercings, make sure to observe whether the swelling is getting worse. It should not become more painful and uncomfortable for you. In case you notice pus or other discharge, it is a clear warning sign of an infection.
| Top |
Infections are among the most common and most dangerous piercing problems. Most of infections happen with new piercings in healing, but it is important to understand that even old piercings carry a risk of infection. Any time there is a tear on the skin around the piercing, or if piercing is irritated, there is a possibility of infection.
Infections occur when microorganisms get inside of the body through an opening in the skin. It is easy to see why new piercings in healing are open to infections: these are basically wounds that are healing. It is not difficult for microorganisms such as bacteria to get under the skin.
Once bacteria start multiplying, your body’s immune system reacts to fight off the infection. This response typically leads to swelling and creation of pus around the piercing. Other warning signs include redness, pain and warmth of the infected area.
Using compresses can offer come relief, if you catch an infection in its earliest stages. Also, prevention is always the best course of action, so make sure to perform aftercare properly (clean your piercing a few times per day with saline solution.) It is important to be gentle with your piercing. Make sure it is not snagged on the clothes, and do not rotate (turn) jewelry! This can break the fistula in healing and increase risk of an infection. Observe your piercing closely so you can notice any unwanted changes.
If an infection is untreated, it can cause a lot of damage in the body. Infections that are not treated can lead to more severe symptoms, such as fever, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, shivers, and more. If this happens, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Piercing infections can spread rapidly and to cause a lot of trouble if they are left untreated.
| Top |
Migration (See also: Rejection)
Migration is a common piercing problem. Some piercings are prone to migration and no piercing is fully safe from it. Migration is a movement of the piercing from its original placement to a new one. Some piercings migrate only minimally and then stop, settling nicely into their new place. Others keep moving and may cause discomfort. Sometimes, a piercing migrates to an uncomfortable or unsightly position. In some cases, migration does not stop, and jewelry is completely pushed out of the skin. This is known as rejection.
Migration can be a horizontal movement across the skin in any direction. If it happens like this, the piercing will change its placement. It means that jewelry will not sit in its original position. Depending on the severity of the change and the end result, this sort of migration may be considered insignificant or, on the other hand, completely unwanted.
However, the most dangerous type of migration is the vertical one. In this migration, jewelry is slowly pushed out of the skin, as the piercing heals and slightly closes. Migration typically has both the horizontal and vertical component. It is a result of your body fighting against the jewelry and aiming to heal (close) the piercing hole. The movement is typically slight (only a small portion of an inch), but it can cause a lot of trouble.
It is not always easy to notice migration, because it happens gradually. One of the main symptoms of migration is the changed positions of the jewelry. Also, jewelry being loose might be another sign. Another common sign is the hole around the jewelry appearing larger or smaller. Migrating piercings tend to be sore and sensitive, so this can also be a warning sign. The most obvious sign of migration is if you notice jewelry being pushed out of the skin, but it most commonly happens in the case of rejection.
Keep in mind that migration is not just a problem of aesthetics. A piercing in migration can leave a bad scar tissue. Since it is not a proper healing of the piercing hole, the skin will heal with a scar. This is why it’s best to simply remove jewelry and let the piercing hole heal on its own. It is much easier to get a new piercing later than to cure a nasty scar.
If you notice your piercing migrating, the best course of action would be to change jewelry for something more comfortable. Consult your piercer or have them change jewelry for you. A more comfortable jewelry piece may settle and prevent further migration.
In other cases, there is no way to stop migration. Keep in mind that some piercings, such as surface piercings (including eyebrow piercing) are prone to migration. These piercings are not permanent, so migration is to be expected at some point. There is no piercing that is completely safe from migration, so it is important to observe all your piercings regularly to notice any potential signs of migration when it starts occurring.
| Top |
Rejection (See also: Migration)
Rejection is the ultimate migration of the piercing. Your body fights against the jewelry because it sees it as a foreign body that should be pushed out of the skin. At the same time, the piercing hole closes just like a regular wound.
This is exactly what happens with rejection: the jewelry gets slowly pushed out of the body. It is a natural mechanism of the body, so it is not easy to prevent and stop. You will notice your piercing rejecting when you see that the jewelry is being pushed out of the skin. The jewelry may appear very shallow under the skin, or you will be able to see jewelry through the skin. These are sure signs of rejection. Earlier signs of rejection include migration. Remember, rejections start as an initial migration. Also, you may notice some soreness and tenderness.
Rejection often happens with new piercings in healing, but it can happen even with the old, well-established piercings. It is important to understand that a piercing is never safe from rejection. This is why it’s important to monitor your piercing closely for any signs of rejection.
The main problem with rejection is scarring. The body tries to close the piercing hole while jewelry is still inside, which can lead to the formation of scar tissue. This is different than a piercing that simply heals once the jewelry is taken out. In case of a rejection, it is best to simply retire a piercing. Take the jewelry out and let the hole close on its own. This will prevent the formation of scar tissue. Once it is fully healed and skin is recovered, you can probably get re-pierced on the same spot. This is a much better scenario than letting your body reject a piercing, creating scar tissue in the process.
| Top |
Piercing scars occur when a piercing migrates or is rejected. They can also be caused by infections, tears and other problems that leave skin to heal beyond the piercing hole. Scars are common with piercings in healing but can happen at any time. In fact, many of the scars appear with old, well-established piercings. Some scars can even appear after you retire a piercing. This is why it’s so important to monitor your piercings carefully and to notice any signs of scarring.
Scarring can be a big problem, because many of them are difficult to heal. Also, many scars lead to piercing retirement. However, it doesn’t necessarily need to be so. There are several types of scars and some are easier to cure than the others.
The two main types of scars are hypertrophic and keloid scars. Some people also count atrophic scars as piercing scars.
are smaller and raised. They typically form around the border of the piercing hole or next to the piercing. They often manifest as round bumps near the piercing. These scars are typically not painful. These scars are not as serious as keloid scars and are easier to heal. The main way to get rid of these scars is to switch to more comfortable jewelry that fits better. Massage your scar with vitamin E oil. This should make the scar less raised and it should fade over time. However, it is always best to consult your doctor in case you notice any type of a scar.
are bigger and more difficult to cure. They are raised and typically extend beyond the piercing. Some are massive in size and can cause serious trouble. Keloid scars also tend to be painful. They increase over time, so they are not easy to cure. In case you develop a keloid scar around the piercing, it is crucial to seek medical help as soon as possible. Do not wait: these scars can spread quickly.
are sunken scars that form on the surface of the skin. These scars are not so common with piercings, but often appear as a result of scarification or other body modifications. However, they can also be caused by piercings, especially if a piercing is large.
| Top |
Hypergranulations are a common piercing problem. Luckily, they are not particularly dangerous, but you need to know how to get rid of them. A hypergranulation typically manifests as a red bump around a piercing. These are particularly common with neglected piercings, so it is important to perform adequate aftercare. However, it is important to know that Hypergranulations can happen even if you take care of your piercing properly.
Hypergranulations are common with piercings during healing time, although some old and well-established piercings can suffer as well. Hypergranulations often form around wounds, and since a new piercing is basically a wound, it is not surprise that they form around new piercings.
These bumps can form very fast, particularly if there is significant moisture around the piercing site. Hypergranulations can also form around an injured piercing, in the case of a tear or a trauma. This is particularly common if jewelry is snagged on clothes or hair. Sometimes, a hypergranulation forms when jewelry puts too much pressure on the piercing.
There are two main types of hypergranulations. The first type is a small, reddish bump, typically on one side of the piercing. The bump can look puffy and like it has fluid inside. Another type of hypergranulations manifests as a red, puffy tissue around the piercing. In this case, there is no specific bump. This second type of hypergranulation is more common with surface piercings.
It is important to know that hypergranulations typically manifest as reddish and raised. They may resemble keloid scars but are not as dangerous. Unlike keloid scars, hypergranulations are localized around the piercing itself and are easier to treat.
To treat a hypergranulation, take look at your jewelry first. Since jewelry can put too much pressure on the piercing, changing jewelry to a more comfortable piece can cure the problem. If this happens during initial healing time, make sure to have your piercer change the jewelry for you. Next, you should use sea salt solution soaks several times per day. It is important to clean your piercing with a hypergranulation carefully. After cleaning, make sure to dry your piercing properly since moisture can make the matters worse.
These steps should help you get rid of hypergranulations. However, if they persist for more than a week, you may seek help from your piercer or a medical provider. Seek advice from your doctor if hypergranulations are persistent. Remember: they can turn into infections or scars so you don’t want to wait too much.
While hypergranulations are not particularly dangerous, keep in mind that they can be a sign of a bigger trouble. They often form around infected piercings, so they may be a sign that your piercing is getting and infection. This is particularly true for old, well-established piercings. If you notice a hypergranulation forming around an old piercing, it may be a warning sign.
| Top |
Injuries (See also: Scars)
In some cases, piercings can lead to injuries and tearing of the skin. This typically happens if the jewelry gets snagged on clothes or hair, but it can happen for other reasons. For example, jewelry that is too big or heavy for the piercing can cause unnecessary stretching, tearing and splitting.
Keep in mind that tearing can also be caused by improper piercing procedure or bad aftercare, so it is important to choose your piercer carefully and to follow aftercare instructions.
Specific types of piercings can cause specific injuries. These injuries are typically due to jewelry pieces. For example, tongue piercings, lip piercings and other oral piercings can cause a lot of trouble if they are not done properly, or if you use jewelry with sharp edges.
This becomes even more pronounced in the case of genital piercings. Any sharp edges or less than perfectly smooth jewelry, and it is a recipe for a trouble. Such jewelry can cause injuries both to the wearer and their sexual partners. In order to avoid these injuries, make sure to use smooth jewelry that is suitable for genital piercings.
All of these problems can lead to a formation of piercing scars. There are several different types of scars and some are more dangerous than the others. Also, tearing can lead to infections and other problems.
| Top |
Nickel allergy is a common problem with bad jewelry. In case your jewelry material contains high percentage of nickel, it can cause sensitivity and allergies. It typically manifests as skin rashes, redness and discomfort. It is not uncommon to get a nickel allergy from buttons and watches, and it becomes even more serious in the case of body piercing. Remember, piercing jewelry goes inside of the piercing hole, so it can cause even more trouble if you are sensitive.
In order to avoid nickel allergy, it is important to use only metals that are nickel-free or contain only small nickel content. This is particularly important for those seeking gold body jewelry. Make sure that gold jewelry you use is nickel-free. It is the only way to avoid nickel allergy.
In addition to nickel allergy, there are other types of metal hypersensitivity that you need to know about. Some people are sensitive to other metals, so it is important to know what kind of body jewelry you can wear.
However, it is also important to remember that some materials simply do not make safe body jewelry. Any metal with a high percentage of nickel and other alloys (that are not properly treated) can cause a lot of trouble. Silver, as beautiful as it is, is not a great material for piercings because it can cause reactions when inserted inside of the piercing hole.
Safe metals for body jewelry include titanium, niobium, Surgical Steel (particularly the high-quality 316L and 316LVM Surgical Steel) and nickel-free gold. However, keep in mind that some of these are safe only for well-established piercings and not for new piercings. For example, some people recommend using only titanium for new piercings. Other include highest grades of Surgical Steel to this list. The type of a metal you can wear will depend on your sensitivity. Hyper-sensitive people should stick to the safest metals (titanium, niobium) for their body jewelry.
| Top |
Overcleaning (also known as over-cleaning) can be dangerous for your piercing and your skin. While it is important to clean your piercing regularly, doing it too often, or with the wrong kind of a cleaner, can be dangerous.
Keep in mind that piercings, particularly new ones, are sensitive. They are basically a wound on your skin. It is important to keep them healthy while they heal. This is why proper hygiene is a must. Your piercer will instruct you how to clean your piercing and how often. It is important to follow that advice, so your new piercing stays clean and problem-free.
However, some people take this advice to a new level. These people may assume that more is better, so they clean their new piercing ten or fifteen times per day. Others stick to recommended 2-3 times per day but use harsh chemicals and intense soaps that irritate the skin. Both of these approaches can lead to overcleaning.
Overcleaning will make your skin tender and it can irritate your new piercing. The piercing might even produce some discharge. This is potentially dangerous, because it makes it easier for bacteria and other microorganisms to enter the piercing. This can easily lead to infections.
In order to prevent this problem, you must stick to recommended aftercare routine. Clean your piercing only a few times per day, not more. Also, make sure to use only proper cleaning solutions that are not too strong. Saline solution is a better choice than many soaps or other cleaners because it is not as harsh. However, even saline solution can cause overcleaning if it is too strong. In case your saline solution is strong, make sure to dilute it with sterile water.
| Top |
Melina is a staff writer, author and researcher for TheChainGang. She covers numerous subjects, from body jewelry to kinky adult toys. In addition to this, Melina also provides occasional adult toy reviews written in an interesting and sexy manner. She says: “I’m happy and proud to be a part of TheChainGang team. I enjoy every research because I know how much importance TheChainGang places on customer satisfaction and providing accurate and up to date information. I particularly like sex toy reviews: they are fun to write and experience”. In addition to writing and researching, Melina provides online research results and handy information for buyers interested in accurate and easily understandable tips and advice on choosing the best adult toys and body jewelry.