Piercing rejection is a bodily response to piercings. The body might respond to piercings as a foreign body. During the initial phases of piercing rejection, the piercing starts to migrate towards the skin surface. After some time, the body pushes the piercing to the surface and the skin cracks open to let it out.
Even though not common as other complications, once piercing rejection occurs, it is usually in a flat area of the body. It is likely to occur in certain types of piercings such as:
- Surface piercings
- Belly button
What are the signs?
The indications of piercing rejection are ways in which the body is protecting itself. Some of the signs that the body is rejecting a piercing include:
- Jewelry has evidently moved from its original position
- The amount of tissue amidst the entrance and exit hole thins out
- The entrance and exit holes are enlarged
- Jewelry starts to droop or hang differently
- The skin amidst the entrance and exit holes appear to peel, flake, reddened or unusually harden
- Almost transparent where the jewelry is seen through the skin
Piercing rejection typically occurs weeks and months after getting a new piercing but can develop years or even decades after.
In case an old piercing is bumped in an odd manner or an infection triggers the immune system into an overdrive, there might be signs of migration and rejection.
Management of piercing rejection
It is vital to prevent the jewelry from pushing itself via the skin surface. In case the jewelry cracks open the skin surface, it can result to further damage which increases the risk for scarring. The formation of excessive scar tissue at the site make re-piercing difficult.
Some measures that can be used in dealing with piercing rejection include:
- If the jewelry starts to migrate toward the skin surface, it should be taken out.
- Use a new piece of jewelry with a different gauge, size, shape or material
- Use a non-irritating plastic bar or ring
- Use a larger piece of jewelry if the ring will not lay flat or the barbell appears to be swallowed up
- Wait for a year before re-piercing
- Apply a topical vitamin E oil to lessen the appearance of scars