Piercing bump vs Keloid: A Comparison

Getting a new piercing can be a thrilling experience if you enjoy jewelry. But, have you ever discovered a piercing bump or keloid scar at the site of the piercing? This can be quite alarming! Continue reading to find out more about piercing bumps and keloids.

Piercings can cause changes in the skin. [1] These changes do not always cause concern. Piercing bumps are not dangerous and may fade over time. However, on the other hand, keloid scars have the ability to grow in size.

Even though piercing bumps and keloid scars might seem similar to you at a glance, both can be distinguished significantly. Piercing bumps tend to appear quickly and do not expand in size, whereas, on the other hand, keloids form gradually and have the ability to expand in size over a period.

What are piercing bumps?

Piercing bumps are considered to be small lumps that can form immediately following a piercing. They are frequently caused due to cartilage piercings, such as the nose or upper ear piercings. When your body’s immune system responds to a wound and begins to heal, piercing bumps tend to appear. This response causes inflammation, which causes the bump. [2]

An individual might experience bleeding, swelling, or bruising swelling on or around the spot of piercing within the first few weeks after getting the piercing done. These are all some of the normal signs and symptoms which you can expect. Some other symptoms that do not appear to be dangerous are as follows:

  • Sensation of itching; and 
  • Discharge of some white-colored fluid from the piercing spot

How long does a piercing bump last?

After piercing, some inflammation, also known as piercing bumps, and irritation are common, but these symptoms should go away within a week.

If there is no improvement after two weeks, the person should return to the piercer for advice and ensure that the piercing is being cared for properly.

Treatments for piercing bumps

Piercing bumps are a normal part of the body’s response to injury and do not usually require treatment. However, people can take some precautionary measures to keep the area clean and avoid harmful bacterial infections. These treatments and precautionary steps include: 

  • Leaving the piercing jewelry within the piercing hole for at least 6 weeks without changing or removing it frequently. 
  • Before touching the piercing, wash your hands.
  • Use a saline solution or gentle soap and water to clean the piercing once a day
  • Drying the piercing area with a clean cotton pad after bathing or showering, rather than using a towel which can further lead to bacterial infection.

What exactly are keloids?

Keloid scars are elevated scar tissue that forms as a result of skin trauma or injury. This type of scar can develop following a piercing. A keloid is usually caused by fibrous tissue overgrowth. Skin cells produce excessive collagen in response to injury, resulting in the formation of a keloid. [3]

Keloids usually develop three to twelve months following the initial injury or piercing. They begin as raised scars which can be pink, red, purple, or brown in color, and gradually darkens. A keloid’s appearance could even vary by location and the person’s skin tone.

Keloids can be of various textures. They can be soft and doughy or hard and rubbery in texture. A person suffering from a keloid scar may also experience the following symptoms:

  • Minor pain and discomfort; and 
  • Sensation of itching and burning


Do keloids on piercings go away?

Keloids particularly seem to be difficult to eliminate. A keloid cannot be removed on your own, and it will not disappear like other piercing bumps, even if the jewelry is removed.

Even though they are successfully removed, they frequently reappear. As a result, most dermatologists and skin specialists recommend a combination of different treatments for long-term and effective results.

How do you make a keloid on piercing go away?

Not sure how to make a piercing keloid go away? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

The best treatment for eliminating a keloid might be influenced by several factors, including the type and size of the keloid. Treatment options include:


Corticosteroids can enable keloid reduction. Dermatologists believe that people require four injections of this medication on average, one every three to four weeks. They also claim that corticosteroid injection causes 50–80 percent of keloids to shrink.

Medical surgery

A skin specialist or dermatologist might remove a keloid surgically. Keloids, however, can reappear even after surgical removal.

Laser therapy

Keloid scars can be flattened or removed with the help of laser surgery and treatments. Talk to your dermatologist about the procedure, costs, and management after the therapy.


Cryotherapy is appropriate for small keloids. It is performed by a skin specialist who freezes the keloid scar to soften and shrink it. Because of the possibility of skin pigmentation changes, cryotherapy is not recommended for people with darker skin.

Dermatologists strongly advise people who know they are prone to keloids to avoid getting piercings.

Can a bump turn into a keloid?

There are two kinds of skin conditions that can occur following a piercing: Piercing bumps and Keloids. Piercing bumps tend to appear quickly and do not expand in size, whereas, on the other hand, keloids can develop gradually and can grow in size significantly. The best way to treat keloids is to consult with a doctor or dermatologist.

Other Possible Causes of Piercing Bump

Red or pink-colored bumps visible at the site of a piercing can sometimes be a sign of some other skin condition or health issue. Other potential causes are as follows:


Infections are usually common after getting new piercings, and they can occur if the needle was not sterile or the piercing was not kept completely clean. Infected piercing symptoms include soreness, swelling, and puffiness, as well as yellow pus coming out of the piercing and nausea and vomiting.

  • Minor pain and discomfort
  • Visible swelling at the site of piercing
  • Yellow or white-colored pus coming out from the piercing spot
  • Nausea and feeling of vomit

Dermatitis caused by physical contact

Dermatitis caused by contact is a kind of skin rash that occurs when something comes into contact with your skin and causes irritation. Any allergy or exposure to something corrosive or toxic can cause contact dermatitis. 

Possible causes of contact dermatitis during piercing include:

  • The metal/ornament used to make the jewelry for your piercing 
  • The metal used in the needle or piercing gun
  • The products used by the piercer to clean the area

Piercing bump vs keloid nose

If you’re unsure whether you are having a piercing bump or a keloid, you should consider three key factors: how long does it last, what is its location in the skin, and how far it expands.


A piercing bump is a temporary swollen area. In other words, it won’t last forever. Instead, it will shrink week by week, eventually disappearing after six weeks. In contrast, a keloid is a permanent bump. It might even continue to increase at a slow or rapid rate over weeks, months, or years.

Location on your skin

Because a piercing bump is beneath the surface of your skin, it will only become more noticeable when the area is touched. On the other hand, a keloid develops on the surface of the skin, making it much more visible.


Finally, the space of a piercing bump versus a keloid differs significantly. A piercing bump usually develops on or around the piercing hole and appears as a tiny red or pink-colored ball beneath the earring or metal jewelry you decide to choose. A keloid, on the other hand, will most likely spread beyond the piercing site as it grows.

What is a hypertrophic scar piercing bump?

The piercing bump of a hypertrophic scar is thicker than that of a normal scar. It does not extend beyond the wound that caused it. Typically, hypertrophic scar bumps are:

  •   Raised to a height of fewer than 4 millimeters above the surrounding skin
  •   Firm
  •   Red or pink

They can be itchy or painful as well. After the initial period of growth, hypertrophic scars usually flatten and shrink over time. Scars can develop at any part of your body, but the most common locations are nose and ear cartilage. Hypertrophic scars are usually painless.

Hypertrophic scar piercing bump vs keloid

Keloid scars and hypertrophic scar bumps are not the same thing. Both are caused by scar tissue overgrowth, however, keloids spread beyond the piercing spot and spread across the surrounding skin. [4]

Keloid scars are:

  • Firm
  • Pink, purple, or flesh-colored
  • Itchy
  • Can grow over time; and
  • Can appear back after several treatments

If you get a keloid, it will most likely be around, a hard mass. Keloids can affect anyone, but they most commonly affect individuals under the age of 30. [5]

Hypertrophic scars, in general, do not cause complications. Even if they are not treated, Hypertrophic scars usually fade and flatten over time. Keloid scars are distinct. They can develop and become uneasy.

When should you see a doctor?

After getting any type of piercing, it’s always a great idea to keep an eye on any specific changes within your skin. You should see a dermatologist as soon as possible if the piercing spot or surrounding area develops discoloration (red or darkened skin), swelling, pain, and/or crusting.

The same measures should be taken if you’ve had a painless bump for more than six weeks. This type of bump could be a keloid, which can be controlled with early detection and treatment.


Should I Remove My Piercing When I Have a Keloid?

Piercing can aggravate the skin and slow down the healing process. Removing the metal jewelry may cause the piercing hole to close and trap the infection, so do not attempt to remove it altogether.

Will the bump on my piercing heal on its own?

Piercing bumps can generally be caused by genetics, allergies, or poor care being taken after getting pierced. They usually go away on their own. If they don’t, they can be completely eradicated with the right treatment.

How Long Does It Take for a Piercing Bump to Disappear?

The simple answer is that it will happen within two or three days of treatment. After seeing a doctor or piercer, it can take several weeks for the infected area to heal completely, but in some cases, you can expect to observe improvement within 2 to 3 days of intensive care and treatment.

Wrapping Up

If you have any questions about your new piercing, it is best to visit your dermatologist or piercer in person because there are a lot more chances of discrepancies due to the lack of information available online.

Piercing bumps and keloids are two different skin conditions that can develop following a piercing. Piercing bumps appear quickly and do not increase in size, whereas keloids develop gradually and can continue to expand.

Consultation with a doctor or dermatologist is the best way to treat keloids and piercing bumps. Anyone who suspects they have a keloid or any other severe type of skin condition causing a lump should seek medical attention immediately.


  1. Julius Metts. “Common complications of body piercing”.   West J Med vol 176(2) (2002) 85-86.
  2. Better Health Channel. “Piercings”. Department of Health – Public Health – Communicable Disease Prevention and Control. Victoria State Government.
  3. National Library of Medicine. “Books: Keloid”. National Center for Biotechnology Information.
  4. Santosh Hunasgi. “Keloid: A case report and review of pathophysiology and differences between keloid and hypertrophic scars”.   J Oral Maxillofac Pathol vol 17(1) (2013) 116-120.
  5. Felipe Bettini Rabello. “Update on hypertrophic scar treatment”.   Clinics (Sao Paulo) vol 69(8) (2014) 565-573.
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