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How to tell the difference between piercing bump and keloid

At the location of piercings, skin changes might develop. These shifts aren’t necessarily reason for alarm. Piercing bumps, for example, are innocuous and may fade away with time. Keloid scars, on the other hand, can grow in size.

Although piercing bumps and keloid scars may appear to be the same at first glance, there are techniques to tell them apart.

We’ll go over the differences between piercing bumps and keloids in this post. We also go through treatment options for both, as well as other disorders that might lead to skin problems following a piercing.


A keloid is a raised scar on the skin that develops as a consequence of trauma or injury. This sort of scar can sometimes form after a piercing.

An expansion of fibrous tissue causes a keloid to occur. When cells in the skin called fibroblasts are injured, they create too much collagen, which leads to the formation of a keloid.

After the initial damage, keloids might take 3–12 months to grow. They begin as elevated scars that might be pink, red, purple, or brown in color, and they usually darken over time. The look of a keloid might vary depending on its location and the person’s skin tone.

Round or oval keloid scars are common in earlobe keloid scars. They can continue to grow over time, either swiftly or slowly, and can reach enormous sizes.

Keloids can have a texture. They might have a soft, doughy texture or a firm, rubbery texture. A person with a keloid scar may also suffer the following symptoms:

  • tenderness
  • pain
  • itchiness

Piercing bumps

Small lumps that form after a piercing are known as piercing bumps. They’re most common after cartilage piercings, such nose or upper ear piercings.

When the body’s immune system reacts to a wound and commences the healing process, piercing bumps appear. Inflammation is the result of this response, which is what causes the bump.

In the first few weeks after obtaining a piercing, a person may experience bleeding, bruising, and swelling at the piercing site. All of these signs and symptoms are normal. Other signs and symptoms that aren’t usually reason for worry include:

  • crusting around the piercing jewelry
  • some whitish fluid coming from the site of the wound
  • itching


Piercing bump vs. keloid

Keloids and piercing bumps might appear identical at first. However, differences will appear with time.

Some of the significant distinctions between these skin alterations are shown in the table below:

Piercing bumpKeloid
LocationAround the piercing siteAround the piercing site but can extend beyond it
FormationSoon after a piercing3–12 months after piercing
SizeVaries, but after forming, it does not grow biggerMay start small and grow bigger over weeks, months, or years
ColorPink or flesh-coloredVaries, but it can become darker over time

Treatment for piercing bumps

Piercing bumps are a normal component of the body’s response to damage, and they usually don’t need to be treated. People may, however, take precautions to keep the piercing clean, avoid infection, and allow it to recover. These are some of them:

  • washing the piercing with a saline solution or gentle soap and water once a day
  • patting the area dry with a clean cotton pad after bathing or showering and avoiding using a towel, which can introduce bacteria
  • keeping piercing jewelry in, without changing or removing it, for at least 6 weeks
  • washing the hands before touching the piercing

Although the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that rubbing alcohol be used to the piercing, this is generally discouraged since it can impede recovery.

Treatment for keloids

Keloids can be treated with a variety of methods. Several criteria, including the form and size of the keloid, might influence the best treatment approach. There are several treatment options available, including:

  • Corticosteroids: This sort of medication can aid in the reduction of keloid growth. According to the AAD, patients require four injections on average, with one every three to four weeks. They further claim that following corticosteroid injection, 50–80% of keloids diminish.
  • Surgery: The keloid can be surgically removed by a professional. Keloids, on the other hand, might reappear even after surgical excision.
  • Laser treatment: The keloid scar can be flattened and faded with laser therapy.
  • Cryotherapy: Small keloids should be treated with this procedure. Cryotherapy is a procedure in which a doctor freezes a keloid to soften it and lessen its size. Because of the risk of skin pigmentation alterations, cryotherapy is not recommended for those with darker skin.

People who know they are prone to keloids should avoid obtaining piercings, according to the AAD.

Additional explanations

Bumps at the location of a piercing can sometimes be an indication of a more serious condition. Other potential causes include:


Infections in new piercings are frequent, and they can happen if the needle was not sterile or if the piercing was not kept totally clean. The following are signs of an infected piercing:

  • yellow pus coming out of the piercing
  • nausea and vomiting
  • soreness
  • swelling and puffiness

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a form of rash that develops when the skin is irritated by something that comes into contact with it. An allergy, friction, or contact to anything caustic or poisonous may cause the rash to appear.

Possible causes of contact dermatitis in piercings include:

  • the products that the piercer uses to clean the area
  • the metal in the needle or piercing gun
  • the metal in the jewelry

Contact dermatitis causes the following symptoms:

  • dryness
  • discoloration
  • inflammation
  • tenderness
  • fluid-filled blisters
  • hives
  • a burning or stinging sensation
  • itching

The majority of jewelry allergies are caused by nickel. Nickel is prevalent in less costly jewelry, but it may also be present in minute amounts in gold or silver jewelry, causing a response.

Replacement of the metal with a hypoallergenic metal, such as titanium, stainless steel, or 18- or 24-karat gold, is the best strategy to fight a jewelry allergy.

When should you consult a doctor?

If a person believes they have a keloid, they should consult a dermatologist or specialist. The keloid may continue to develop if it is not treated.

If a person is having signs of an infection, they should also seek medical care.


Following a piercing, piercing bumps and keloids are two separate skin problems that can emerge. Unlike piercing bumps, which develop rapidly and do not expand in size, keloids take time to form and can grow in size over time.

The best technique to treat keloids is to consult a doctor or dermatologist. Anyone who feels they have a keloid or another condition that might be producing a lump should consult a doctor.



Obianuju Chukwu

She has a degree in pharmacy and has worked in the field as a pharmacist in a hospital. Teaching, blogging, and producing scientific articles are some of her interests. She enjoys writing on various topics relating to health and medicine, including health and beauty-related natural treatments, the nutritional worth of various foods, and mental wellness.