The Idiot's Guide to Troubleshooting a Piercing Problem

No matter how many emails Tribalectic receives a day, the overwhelming majority consistently regard questions about piercings. As a result, this month I would like to use the feature column to help spread some useful basic knowledge about problems you may be experiencing with your piercing. One of Tribalectic's largest goals is to empower the piercee with as much information as needed to have a successful, enjoyable piercing experience. With the help of some of the industry's most passionate and knowledgeable piercers, we're proud to offer you the highest quality information on the web and this month's feature installment (another gracious 'thank you' to John Lopez at Gotham Body Piercing in San Francisco, CA). 



1) Do you see puss? (thick, white, liquid, sometimes tinted pink, yellow and even green) Is it swollen? Is it warm to the touch? Is it red and inflamed? Does it hurt? 

"Yes" to these could indicate infection. Bacteria or another irritant has caused an infection or a response from you body that resembles an infection. See your doctor if your piercers instructions don't help within 3-5 days. 

2) Is there a hard knot under the piercing? (like a marble under the skin) Is it warm to the touch? Does it hurt? Is it red and inflamed? Does puss sometimes ooze out? 

"Yes" to these could indicate an abscess. An infection is trapped and could burst. Don't squeeze it and don't remove the jewelry until your doctor tells you to. See a doctor immediately, this could become very serious! 

3) Is there a bump next to the piercing? (like a pimple) Is it red and inflamed? Does puss sometimes ooze out? Is it tender near the bump? 

"Yes" to these could indicate a follicular cyst. Something is stuck inside the piercing or a pore or follicle near the piercing is blocked. Hot soaks should take care of it very quickly. 

4) Is the skin tight and shiny? Is there a rash? Does the rash seem to "flow" downward? Does the piercing seem moist or wet constantly? (clear moisture) 

"Yes" to these could indicate a chemical reaction. Simply stop using your cleaning agent and try saline soaks. Results should be almost instant. 

5) Is the skin tight and shiny? Do the holes seem to be enlarged? Does it itch? Does the piercing seem moist or wet constantly? (clear moisture) Is the skin tender? 

"Yes" to these could indicate a metal reaction. Simply change to a different metal. Results will be almost instant. 

6) Is the skin darkening around the piercing? Does the ring stand at "attention" constantly? Does it hurt? Are the ends of the jewelry tight against the piercing? 

"Yes" to these could indicate constriction, that your jewelry is too tight. A larger diameter should fix the problem. See your Piercer. 

7) Is there a "volcano" of skin forming around the jewelry? (this extra skin isn't tender) Is the piercing tender? Is the piercing inflamed? Is the skin darkening around the piercing? 

"Yes" to these could indicate a keloid do to irritation or friction. Is the jewelry to long? Are your clothes rubbing a lot? Are you physically active? See your Piercer to find a solution…it may take time to find a comfortable solution. 

8) Is there a painless, but ugly "worm" hanging out of the new tongue or nipple piercing? 

Don't worry, this is just a strip of tissue that was cut by the needle that stayed connected and is either going to reabsorb into your body or die and fall off…leave it alone, it goes away quickly.