Piercing bumps and keloids are similar in that they are raised, flesh-colored or red bumps that can form around a body piercing, but they have some key differences.
Piercing bumps are a type of localized inflammatory reaction to the injury caused by the piercing needle. These bumps are generally smaller and softer than keloids and typically disappear on their own within a few weeks to a few months after the piercing.
Keloids, on the other hand, are a type of scar that results from an overgrowth of collagen. They are raised, firm, and can be itchy and tender. They can continue to grow and become quite large, and often occur months or even years after the piercing was done. Keloids are more common in people with darker skin and those who are prone to scarring.
It’s also possible to have a mixture of keloid and piercings bump, which is called a Hypertrophic Scar which is similar to a keloid but smaller and it doesn’t grow beyond the size of the original wound.
Overall, piercing bumps are a common and usually harmless complication of body piercings, whereas keloids are a more serious condition that may require treatment.
How to differentiate between Piercing bumps and Keloids?
Piercing bumps and keloids can both appear as raised, flesh-colored or red bumps around a body piercing, but they have some key differences in appearance.
- They are usually small and softer than keloids
- They have a slightly raised, bumpy appearance
- They are usually red or flesh-colored
- They are usually not itchy or tender
- They typically disappear on their own within a few weeks to a few months after the piercing.
- They can be larger and harder than piercing bumps
- They have a smooth, shiny surface
- They can have a slightly different color than surrounding skin
- They can be itchy and tender to the touch
- They can continue to grow and become quite large
- They often occur months or even years after the piercing was done.
It’s also possible to have a mixture of keloid and piercings bump, which is called a Hypertrophic Scar. This can have some characteristics of both keloids and piercings bumps.
Causes for Piercing Bumps
Piercing bumps are caused by an inflammatory reaction to the injury caused by the piercing needle. When the skin is pierced, the body’s natural defense mechanisms respond by sending white blood cells to the area to fight off any potential infection. This immune response causes inflammation, which can lead to the formation of a small, raised bump around the piercing site.
Additionally, certain factors that may increase the risk of developing piercing bumps include:
Using dirty equipment: If the needle or jewelry used for the piercing is not sterile, it can increase the risk of infection and inflammation.
Poor aftercare: Not cleaning the piercing properly or touching it with dirty hands can also increase the risk of infection and inflammation.
Allergies: Some people may be allergic to the metal in the jewelry, which can cause an inflammatory reaction.
Inadequate Healing: If the piercing is done with a large gauge needle or if the healing process is not adequate, it increases the chances of developing a bump.
Genetics: Some people are more prone to scarring, which can make them more likely to develop piercing bumps.
Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes can also cause a piercing bump and some individuals may have an increased risk during pregnancy, menopause, and adolescence.
Causes for Keloids
Keloids can develop after body piercings for several reasons, including:
Genetics: As mentioned before, keloids can run in families, and people who are predisposed to them may be more likely to develop them after a piercing.
Ethnicity: Keloids are more common in people with darker skin, and these individuals may be more likely to develop them after a piercing.
Hormonal changes: Keloids can develop more easily in people during periods of hormonal changes, like during pregnancy and menopause, which can affect the way the body’s tissues heal.
Size of the gauge needle: Keloids can develop more easily when a large gauge needle is used for piercing, since a larger wound may trigger the overproduction of collagen.
Inadequate healing: Not providing proper aftercare to the piercing, not cleaning it regularly, or not keeping it dry can lead to infection and inadequate healing, making keloids more likely.
Allergies: Some people may be allergic to certain metals in the jewelry, which can cause an allergic reaction and lead to keloids.
It’s also worth noting that keloids can develop even years after the piercing, so it’s important to take good care of your piercings over time to reduce the risk of complications.
How to prevent piercing bumps and keloids?
There are several steps you can take to help prevent piercing bumps and keloids from occurring:
Use sterile equipment: Make sure the needle and jewelry used for the piercing are sterile to reduce the risk of infection and inflammation.
Proper aftercare: Clean the piercing regularly and keep it dry to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection. Avoid touching the piercing with dirty hands and avoid exposing the piercing to excessive moisture (such as swimming in lakes or pools) until it is fully healed.
Use hypoallergenic jewelry: If you are prone to allergies or have sensitive skin, use hypoallergenic jewelry (such as titanium or stainless steel) to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
Avoid irritation: Avoid clothing or jewelry that may rub against the piercing and cause irritation.
Wait to pierce: If you tend to scar easily, it might be best to avoid getting piercings in areas that are more prone to keloids such as the chest, shoulders, earlobes, and upper arms.
Be mindful of the healing process: Proper care and hygiene are crucial in the healing process. Make sure you follow the aftercare instructions provided by your piercer, and if there are any signs of infections such as redness, pain, discharge, or swollen area, seek medical help.
Consider options: If you have a history of keloids, you may want to consider alternatives to body piercings such as temporary tattoos or clip-on earrings instead.
It’s worth noting that, even if you take all the necessary precautions, keloids can still happen, so if you notice any signs of keloids, such as a raised, firm bump that may be itchy or tender, see a healthcare professional as soon as possible to help prevent them from growing or to minimize its appearance.
How to treat piercing bumps and keloids at home?
Treatment for piercing bumps and keloids can vary depending on the size, severity, and location of the bump, as well as the individual’s personal preferences.
Here are a few at-home remedies that may help reduce the size and symptoms of piercing bumps and keloids:
Clean the area: Clean the area around the bump with soap and water, and gently pat it dry.
Keep the area dry: Avoid exposing the area to excessive moisture, such as swimming in lakes or pools, until it is fully healed.
Use a warm compress: Applying a warm compress to the bump can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
Over-the-counter creams: Over-the-counter creams that contain ingredients such as silicone or hydrocortisone can be used to reduce the size and itchiness of the bump.
Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil can be used to help reduce the size and symptoms of keloids and piercing bumps when applied topically. It is a natural antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial.
Vitamin E oil: Vitamin E oil can be used to help reduce the size and symptoms of keloids and piercing bumps when applied topically.
It’s important to remember that if the bump is infected, you should avoid using any home remedies and seek medical attention instead, as the bump may need to be drained or treated with antibiotics. Also, it’s important to use any home remedy with caution, as they may cause irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals. Before applying any of these remedies, test it on a small area of skin first to make sure that you’re not allergic to it.
These remedies may be helpful but they don’t replace the professional opinion, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best treatment option for you.
I hope this article helped you to understand the main differences between keloids and piercing bumps. Remember that not all raised bumps surrounding a piercing are keloids, and it’s always advisable to speak with a healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns to obtain an accurate diagnosis and course of treatment. However, it is also feasible to treat bumps and keloids at home with efficient home treatments, albeit it could take some time for them to fully recover without medical assistance.