Defeating Hypertrophic Scarring (aka Piercing Bumps): Strategies for Smooth Skin

What is hypertrophic scarring (“piercing bumps”)?

piercing bumps

Knowing and understanding how wounds heal is essential to properly healing your new piercing. When the human body goes through an injury (for example, a piercing), it jumps straight into active healing mode. To do that, your body starts to produce collagen – a fibrous substance which acts as building blocks for new tissue. However, because piercings mean putting jewelry inside the “wound”, sometimes the body produces too much collagen too quickly, which leads to hypertrophic scarring. Those scars are often confused with keloids, as they both look similar. A hypertrophic scar looks like a raised red bump at the site of piercing, and can sometimes be itchy or tender. It’s a cosmetic problem and doesn’t cause any medical complications. However, the good news is that it’s possible to prevent those bumps, and treat them once they appear. Be aware though that it can sometimes take up to a year once the scar appears, so your best course of action is prevention!

What causes piercing bumps?

Although scarring is normal for the healing process, some people will scar more than others. Cartilage piercings tend to be the worst offenders, as cartilage contains a lot of collagen in it as it is. It’s important to understand that even if you and your piercer did everything right, it’s still possible for the bumps to happen.

Apart from genetics, there are two main reasons for the bumps: physical injury and chemical irritation. This is why you must stay away from any harsh or perfumed products (soaps, shampoos, make up, fake tan, hair dye, rubbing alcohol…). Association of Professional Piercers (APP) officially recommends only using saline solution marked as “wound wash”. This is the type of solution you get for free with your piercing here at Karma.

You should also avoid any injuries to your piercing – sometimes you might not even notice minor snags and tugs, but they all lead to re-damaged piercing, which leads to overproduction of collagen. This is why sometimes even piercings that were healed fully form piercing bumps if they get slightly damaged (i.e. pulled on the hair). Sometimes the piercing may look like it’s healed, but piercings heal from the outside to the inside, so it’s not always possible to tell if the piercing is fully healed just by looking at it, which is why you should always seek advice from a professional piercer.

How to prevent piercing bumps?

Our aftercare advice form lays out all the things you should avoid with your new piercings, but now that you understand how the piercing wounds heal, you can use common sense to avoid any chemical or physical irritation of your piercing. If you have any questions or concerns about possible hypertrophic scars, please get in touch with us, or ask during your piercing appointment.

How to treat piercing bumps?

Ok, so you were cleaning your new piercing religiously, keeping it dry and free of any irritation, and you still got the bump. First of all – don’t panic! They are absolutely treatable, and you can see us at any point to get advice on the treatment.

Hypertrophic scars often appear within the first 4 to 8 weeks of healing. Once they appear, they could change and grow over the next few months. It will probably take up to a year for the scar to fully mature, since that’s roughly the amount of time that it takes for your tissue to fully heal.

Hypertrophic scars usually shrink on their own, and it’s likely that in a few years, your hypertrophic bump will be nothing more than a barely noticeable spot next to the piercing.

There are things, however, you can do if you don’t feel like waiting:

  1. Applying pressure. When cleaning your piercing, apply firm, but gentle pressure to your piercing from both sides, if possible (the idea here is to flatten the bump and break down the collagen, so it can be reabsorbed by your body). Remember, you only do this with clean hands, and use cotton pads soaked in cleaning solution for this. You can also use Piercing Healing Discs, or buy them from us. Those are little silicone discs that slip onto your piercing and press down on the bump to flatten it. You might need to wear it for several months before the bump disappears, but that is the recommended option. Ask your Karma piercer about those.
  2. Silicone scar gel. You can buy those products over the counter without prescription. They are usually labeled as scar treatment, but make sure to read the label to avoid any allergies.
  3. Tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties, and it is also known to “shrink” piercing bumps. You would need to use tea tree oil, and only dab a tiny bit on your piercing bump. Don’t put any of the tea tree oil on the piercing itself. If you feel like it’s burning too much, wash the oil away and seek medical advice (some people are allergic to tea tree oil, so do a small skin-patch test before using it).

piercing bumpsTo minimize the risk of piercing bumps, it’s essential to choose a professional piercer who can provide expert guidance from the initial piercing appointment to the aftercare process. Karma Jewellery and Piercing Dundee, with its extensive experience and commitment to hygiene, is an excellent choice for those seeking a safe and reliable piercing experience.  If you ever have questions or concerns about piercing bumps or any aspect of your piercing journey, don’t hesitate to seek advice from Karma Jewellery and Piercing Dundee, where professionals are dedicated to ensuring your piercing experience is both safe and satisfying.

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