If you feel a blister on a piercing, there's no need to panic. Piercing blisters are very common, and occasionally show up in the healing process even with meticulous care. Before you begin your treatment, it's important to first identify the type of bump you're dealing with, where it is located on your body, and how it got there in the first place. After that, simple remedies, time, and patience will help you cure any unsightly swelling.
A piercing blister can show up for various reasons. Prior to coming up with your plan, figure out if your blister is an abscess, a follicular cyst, or hypertrophic scarring (a bump that forms on the backside of the piercing hole).
Abscesses are painful lesions caused by a bacterial infection inside or around the piercing. However, while they sound scary, they are the easiest to treat. Similarly scary sounding, a follicular cyst is actually just a clogged pore. This puss-filled bump can be caused by an ingrown hair or dead skin cells trapped inside a pore next to your piercing. Hypertrophic scarring, however, usually occurs in a cartilage piercing (upper ear or nose) and must be tended to immediately—before it becomes a more permanent keloid scar.
What Is a Piercing Blister/Bump?
A piercing blister is a blister or pimple that contains pus which is often caused by poor piercing technique, not properly caring for the piercing, or an allergic reaction to the jewelry. On the contrary, a piercing bump could be one of three things: a hypertrophic scar that has formed inside of the piercing, an abscess of infectious fluid trapped under or behind the piercing, or a cyst caused by an obstruction of dead skin cells or hair.
Hypertrophic scarring is caused by a loss of collagen due to trauma in and around the piercing site, and you shouldn't delay treatment if it happens to you. First, size down your jewelry's gauge (with professional guidance, of course) to avoid undue pressure on the wound. Then, perform a daily, gentle oil massage to dissolve the blister before it becomes a permanent scar. Rosehip seed oil, like The Ordinary's 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil ($11), is preferred.
Keep reading to learn how to manage any unsightly blisters because that new piercing does look super cool.
Check Your Jewelry
The next step in treating whatever is going on is to make sure your jewelry is up to par. Are your studs, hoops, or CBR's (captive bead rings) made of surgical stainless steel, surgical titanium, niobium, or Tygon (a surgical plastic)? If you're not sure, visit your local trusted professional piercing studio. They will help you select a quality item in the perfect gauge for healing your piercing. They'll often change it out for you, too, so there's no reason to do it yourself. Then once it's in, leave it there until your bump is completely healed. Rotate it occasionally if possible, but only after healing.
Keep It Clean
Cleaning your piercing daily with a mild antibacterial soap is the key to eliminating abscesses or cysts, but sometimes they need a little extra help. That's where salt soaks come in. Sea salt soaks work to draw out the impurities, clearing bacterial infection and loosening dead skin cells and dried puss.
Mix 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt with water and soak your piercing blister three times a day until it is completely gone.
Give It Time
Once your piercing is completely healed, you then can then feel free to change your jewelry. Still, make sure to select high-quality jewelry purchased only from a professional shop and let them put it in. If your piercing blister rears its ugly head again, repeat the steps above. Remember—piercings are open wounds, and the healing process can be filled with ups and downs. If your piercing becomes painful, red, or hot, or excretes green ooze, go see a doctor for more aggressive treatment options.