9 Reasons Why Your Piercing Isn’t Healing Properly


1. STOP TOUCHING IT! This is probably the number one cause of irritation. After previously touching god knows what throughout your day, you may want to reconsider absentmindedly fidgeting with your new piercing. Any irritation you cause to the piercing, will delay its healing process. If you wouldn’t stick your hands in your mouth, why make contact with an open wound that is your piercing? Check out this article on things you touch everyday that are filthier than a toilet.

2. Max and Mr. Snuggles. I love animals. You love animals. We all love animals. However, pet dander is a leading cause of infection. So while you’re snuggling with kitty cat who’s affectionately seated right on your new navel piercing, you’re slowly infecting your piercing with millions of microscopic cells. It doesn’t matter whether you’re naked or fully clothed frankly, because dander is microscopic, and it is airborne. Maybe re-think having your favourite furry friend sleeping in your bed with you, too.

3. You’re using WHAT to clean it with? I’ve recently encountered a lot of new clients come to me from other shops who have either been misinformed, or simply not informed at all. In my experiences, i have found this to be most alarming. You have to remember, a piercing is technically an open wound. Bare, vulnerable flesh is exposed, and highly susceptible to infection. And when it comes to cleaning, I’ve heard it all: a bar of soap, antibacterial soap, hot water, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, your own saliva, tap water, and my favourite, “I was told i didn’t have to clean it.” I hope as you read your way down, you have invested some time in the useful link I had posted earlier. With that said, I hope “bar of soap” scares you. Alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are extremely harsh chemicals—the latter more than the first. If you had a deep open cut, would you pour alcohol in it? No. Same rule applies for a piercing. I have always recommended sea salt to naturally and effectively clean and cleanse any and every piercing. It is a natural disinfectant, reduces swelling and redness, and eases any discomfort commonly found after getting a new piercing. Table salt, iodized salts, epsom salts and kosher salts are not appropriate. I’ve come across a great solution exclusively sold at Dreamworx Ink which is highly effective at cleansing, and preventing infection.

4. Your shiny new FAKE jewellery. When it comes to a piercing, take note of the required healing times, and leave the original jewellery in until fully healed. Irritation can easily be caused by constant jewellery removal and installation, especially if the wound is still fresh. Avoid causing unnecessary trauma to the area. In addition, remember that nice shiny nose bone you bought at that little dingy shop for $5? Yeah, well, its fake, and its clearly irritating your nose.  I cannot stress enough how important jewellery is. When initially pierced, there should be nothing else in you but surgical steel. Not even gold! Surgical steel is non-porous, and therefore will not react to your body fluids and discharges while healing. Furthermore, plated jewellery commonly has lead as its core structure, and can discolour the area, and lead to black, permanent keloid bumps. Patience is a virtue. Always wait until you’re fully healed to start swapping jewellery.

5. Is this right for you? Sometimes our bodies naturally reject piercings, and sadly there is nothing that can be done. This is not an uncommon phenomemon. However location, gauge, and method of piercing can be a factor as to why your piercing is not doing so well. Some body parts can only take so much trauma before it keloids, or just gives up. If you walk into a shop, and you want your cartilage pierced, make sure the piercer knows what they’re doing. Typically 18 to 16 gauge needles and jewellery are used for this location. If you’re pierced with a 14 guage needle, this may be too large of a hole, and your body may freak out. Always do your research before getting a piercing, and most importantly as the piercer as many questions as possible pertaining to your potential new piercing. If the answers given are not satisfactory, walk away. You need to trust the person who you are paying to modify your body.

6. No gun policy. It truly amazes me that people are still piercing, and being pierced with piercing guns. What frightens me even more are the mothers that i encounter who offer me their great wisdom and highly suggest that i pierce with a gun. Thank you. Shall i hand over my piercing licence and degree to you now, or have an official graduation for you? To put it bluntly, piercing guns cannot be sterilized properly. The reasons why I use one-time use cannula needles are as follows:

a) They are pre-packaged, sterile needles, which are discarded into a sharps container after use. No needle is EVER re-used.

b) Piercing guns cannot be effectively sterilized, therefore risking many people to cross-contamination of blood born pathogens (AIDS, HIV, Hepatitis, and so on and so forth).

c) Beveled needles glide through the tissue, whereas guns cause blunt force trauma to your flesh and surrounding cells. This leaves you with permanent scar tissue. Feel that little ball on the inside of your lobe? Yeah, thats what I’m talking about. You are being pierced with a flat-backed stud. HELLO!?

7. Where did you go? The type of shop that you get your piercings at matters. Is the shop clean? What are the staff like? Do they open everything in front of you? Are they receptive to your questions and concerns? Most of all, do you feel safe and comfortable there? Do they have a set spore-test schedule, and have they continuously passed? Do you see an autoclave? If you find that you’re answering no to any or all of these questions, then leave. If strict health and safety procedures are not followed, you are at high risk for infection.

8. Use your head. The majority of piercings requested are facial and on the ear. With that said, everything you do and use in and around his are will dramatically affect the healing process, and overall outcome of your piercing. Make-up around nose, eyebrow, labret piercings, etc will find its way into the area and create inflammation, redness, and more commonly than not, an infection. Powdered make-up when applied becomes air-borne and will travel to your piercing as well. The same concept applies to hair products such as mousse, gels, and hairspray. Remember that all of these cosmetic products are chemicals, and will therefore irritate your piercings. The same goes for lotions and body products around any body piercings such as nipple, navel and surface piercings. If you wouldn’t apply it near an open wound, don’t apply it near a healing piercing.

9. Summer Fun. What better way to spend those hot summer days then tanning and swimming! If you’re bearing a new piercing, the latter may not be such a good idea. Tanning beds, as well as tanning in its general outside form, can cause added unnecessary stress to the skin surrounding it, and dry it out. Sunburns cause your body to deter attention to the piercings healing process because its main focus now becomes to heal the sunburn as quickly as possible. In addition, it can cause excess trauma to the already sensitive tissue. Swimming pools, hot tubs, and other bodies of water of the sort, carry many different types of germs and bacteria. Moisture, especially in warm temperatures, becomes a prime breeding ground for bacteria, and thus infection. Many bacterias which host in improperly disinfected hot tubs can be fatal, such as the Legionella bacteria.

All in all, keeping a piercing clean and promoting a healthy healing environment for your new body modification is all about common sense. If you have to question something before doing it, chances are you shouldn’t do it.

15 thoughts on “9 Reasons Why Your Piercing Isn’t Healing Properly

    • Definitely wait! Wait until you are fully healed! Swapping prematurely can irritate the tunnel growth on the inside and create a regression of progress. Wait a good 6 months before changing anything.

    • Hi Razaan, thanks for checking out my page.
      Overall hygiene helps to avoid infection, so yes, washing your hair is totally fine!
      I would definitely give the new piercing a good rinse and/or a good clean afterwards to ensure no shampoo residue lingers within the new pierce. I would also go so far as recommending a shampoo & conditioner that are more “natural”, contain less harsh ingredients, and do not have any pigments within them…just to be safe. I’ve had clients from both ends of the spectrum in terms of susceptibility to infection and susceptibility to irritations because of intense skin sensitivities, so you’ll be able to gauge how your body will handle the new piercing overall.
      I wish you the best of luck!


  1. Hey!! So I got my belly button done in July and it’s now almost 6 months later and has not healed at all! It’s red and irritated and hurts and it still bleeds or pusses. If we don’t want to buy that solution what could we make to put on it? Like just straight up sea salt or a mixture of water and sea salt? I want this to work out. Please help me as soon as possible!

    • I strongly recommend H2Ocean as it is properly formulated for piercings, and moreover is STERILE. if that is not an option whatsoever, you can always mix a solution yourself, however sterility will always be compromised. I would pick up distilled water, and a non-iodized natural sea salt. Generally ratio is 1 cup:1 tsp. Be careful not to cross-contaminate! And absolutely do not swap your jewelry as it can further aggravate the situation!

  2. Hi,
    I got my 2nd lobes pierced at Claire’s more than a year ago, yet my piercings are still not fully healed. I know now that guns aren’t proper equipment to pierce, but at the time I didn’t pay attention to it; I’m just glad that I got my cartilage pierced at a reputed piercing studio (a week after I got my 2nd lobes done). I cleaned it just as they instructed and didn’t play around with it or anything, and after about 2-3 months, they started developing little pockets of fluid right above the holes which would dry over 2-3 days and flake off. Again, I continued to clean it properly hoping it would be fine, but after about 9 months, I got frustrated and went to my piercer for suggestions. He said it might be because the earrings were too tight, or that I was allergic to the metal, so he changed it to a surgical steel BCR… the pockets of fluid are less frequent now, but the piercings still feel tender at times and get crusty pretty often. The discharge isn’t smelly, or oddly colored, there’s no throbbing/pain unless something comes in rough contact with it, but I’ve noticed that the skin above the piercings looks like thin scabs. A few months ago, I tried H2Ocean sea salt spray, and it seemed to be working, but as soon as I stopped, the fluid bubbles would form again and the cycle restarts.
    What should I do?

    • It sounds like you’re not having a good experience with these piercings. Some people just take a little longer to heal, and thats totally okay. We’re creatures of genetic diversity. Your piercer may have been right with regards to the tightness of the pre-existing studs. The pockets and scabs you talk about could be keloid formations. Its a collagen build-up and immune response. The more melanin your skin has (the darker your complexion) the more prone you are to keloids. On the bright side, the better you age lol! If it’s a keloid I recommend applying tea tree oil every day on the affected bumps/scabs and leaving it on. Apply after cleansing the piercing with H2Ocean. You should start to notice a reduction in the bumps. It will essentially dry up and scab over to the point where it just falls off and/or reverts. Keep up the good work though, and I applaud your patience!

  3. Hi I have a second ear piercing from years ago. However, I found that it always is irritated when I wear earrings in them. Even the other day I put earrings in them after a very long time perhaps a year of not wearing anything in those holes. By the end of the day they were crusty and swollen. So again I haven’t put anything in them. I used witch hazel to clean them but I will try your sea salt recommendation. At this point I’m starting to think that these ear holes will always give me a problem. Any suggestions? Also, note that my very first piercings were done by my Aunt who was a nurse with sterile needle. I was a baby when it was done. That piercing is fine till this day. However, I didn’t know about the guns. I wish I did because my daughter’s piercings also gives them issues and they were done by gun. No more fun for me in the future.

    • I too sometimes experience irritations when putting in earrings. It could just be the composition of the earrings you’re putting in (I recommend surgical steel, or titanium). The irritation could also just be a result of your tissue re-adjusting to the piercings. Overtime, the tunnel shrinks if jewelry isn’t worn, and when we reintroduce a foreign object back in to our bodies, it can become itchy, red and a little crusty. The crust is just intercellular fluids. I suggest getting a hypoallergenic stud set, and leaving them in for a week or two to readjust to your body. Clean them everyday just for your own comfort. Hope this helps 🙂

  4. Hi dear ivana, my nose piercing of one year has refused to heal, it keeps getting swollen I use hot saline solution to press then the swell goes away, and comes back again when I stop , and it bleeds too, I have been doing this for the past one year, I don’t know what to do for it to heal permanently, I really want to keep my piercing please help.

    • Hi Chirabel! Thanks for checking out my article! Your situation does not come as a surprise, nor should it be cause of any concern. Nostril tissue is primarily cartilage-based, which can definitely take up to a year to fully heal. If swelling is the major issue, I would prefer you use a cold solution (or even ice) to rid the nostril of swelling. Hot water causes vasodilation, which results in even more swelling. If you have bump on your nose, then it is most likely a keloid. They result from immune reactions to the piercing – make sure you’re not getting makeup, or foreign product in your piercing. If its the latter of the two, then apply a dab of tea tree directly on the bump every day, and it should gradually go away. Stick to this, and you should be good! 🙂

  5. Hi, I got my ears pierced in August 2016, it’s now Feb. 2017 and it still hasn’t healed and scabs up with puss. What do I do? I still have sea salt from when I got it pierced. Should I start using it again? Or just give up on the piercing and waste the $80 I spent lol

    • If there is pus still being formed, then cleaning it would definitely be a must. Although lobes are soft tissue and should heal relatively quickly with proper care, it can unfortunately differ from person to person. Some people just a take a bit longer to heal – I am one of those, too. Im assuming your jewelry is surgical steel (if it is not, please swap to surgical steel or titanium). Are you backings loose enough to allow oxygen to reach the surface of the tunnel? When jewelry is too tight it stops air flow, which results in a moist, warm environment for bacteria to continue to breed. Small changes like this can greatly impact the success of healing. Furthermore, I would recommend removing the jewelry for 10 minutes just to soak the jewelry in alcohol for 10 minutes. This can kill any bacteria that may be lingering in tiny crevices, which is a common cause of recurring infection. One last piece of advice I can give is to just continue to be patient and regimented, and eventually it will have no choice but to heal. Always wash your hands, and don’t touch the piercings during the day! Hope this helps! Best of luck Claudia! 🙂

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