Piercing Bump vs Keloid: Must-Know Differences

Piercing Bump vs Keloid: Must-Know Differences

New piercings usually brings fresh excitement and confidence, however, what if you suddenly find a weird and mysterious bump on the site of your new bling? How will you identify if it is just a piercing bump or a keloid? When should you start worrying?

To help you understand more about this matter, we have listed the key points you should know below.

Piercing Bump

Piercing is a form of trauma, thus bleeding, tenderness, bruising, and local swelling are normal for a few days because of the wound healing process our body undergoes. The bumps you may see are a form of local inflammation on the site of the piercing. It is one of the processes that the body uses to adapt to your new accessory.

Although, you need to be wary of significant swelling that may occur beyond the piercing, as well as the presence of oozing pus or blood as they may indicate infection.


Keloid is a type of scar that is elevated and extends beyond the border of the original wound. It occurs if your immune system manifests an excessive tissue response to an injury. It may cause functional impairment and cosmetic disfigurement that may lower self-esteem and quality of life. Females are more commonly affected by this.

It is often observed in the earlobe, deltoid, upper back, and chest area and it does not regress spontaneously. It will also grow as you grow.

Differences Between Piercing Bump and Keloid

Listed in the table below are the main differences between a keloid and piercing bump. You may need to remember these things in order to identify what you are exhibiting at the site of your new piercing.

Piercing Bump



Within the wound

Extends beyond the wound


Right after getting pierced

Weeks or months after the injury


Depends on the size of injury

Grows as you grow


Usually flat

Raised bumps

Piercing Bump Treatment

If you identify that the bump you are seeing is indeed a piercing bump, it is extremely important to follow the aftercare guidelines recommended by your piercer. This includes the following:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before cleaning the wound and the accessory.
  • Use saline or salt solution to rinse the wound as it kills the skin bacteria that may fester on the wound.
  • Use clean gauze.
  • If soap has been recommended by your piercer, use gentle ones and rinse thoroughly. Avoid harsh soaps or those with fragrances as much as possible.
  • Pat dry the wound with clean paper towels. Avoid using cloth towels as they may harbor bacteria that is bad for your wound.

Keloid Treatment

Keloids may require intensive treatment if symptomatic or if they bring significant functional impairment to the person as well as cosmetic disfigurement. However, it has also been observed that these scars do not have a universally accepted treatment approach as they are resistant most of the time.

Still, intralesional corticosteroids may be injected within the lesion to dissolve the scar. They act by diminishing the production of collagen, glycosaminoglycans, and fibroblasts which are all the main reasons for keloid formation.

Silicone gel sheets are also used together with the injections. It may act as treatment per se or a preventive strategy as they hydrate the skin.

Surgery has been observed to cause a high recurrence rate after the keloid removal thus it is only implemented if the therapies above were unsuccessful.

When to seek a doctor

If you are seeing prolonged inflammation with no improvement, you have to go back to your piercer and ask for advice as home care may not be sufficient if your wound exhibits red flags that are listed below. If these symptoms occur, you have to go to your nearest doctor or emergency room and have your piercing checked.

  1. Uncomfortable pain or swelling
  2. Unusually thick or smelly discharge
  3. Yellow, green, or gray discharge
  4. Fever
  5. Chills
  6. Nausea and vomiting
  7. Dizziness


Piercing bumps or keloids may occur after getting pierced. This doesn’t mean that you have  to be scared of getting those awesome piercings that will definitely suit you! You just have to be aware of their differences and how to care for them. It is important to remember that proper cleaning and management will definitely reduce your chances of getting keloid scars.


Goldstein, AO. & Hong, AM. (2021). Keloids and hypertrophic scars. Retrieved from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/risk-factors-for-impaired-wound-healing-and-wound-complications?search=Keloid&topicRef=15080&source=see_link on February 8, 2022.

O’Keefe Osborn, C. (2019). What is This Bump on My Cartilage Piercing and What Should I Do? Retrieved fromhttps://www.healthline.com/health/cartilage-piercing-bump#see-your-piercer

Nazzal M, Osman M, Albeshri H, et al. Chapter 9: Wound Healing. Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery, 11th Edition, pp. 271-303.

Armstrong, DG. & Meyr, AJ. (2021). Risk factors for impaired wound healing and wound complications. Retrieved from https://www.uptodate.com/contents/risk-factors-for-impaired-wound-healing-and-wound-complications?search=Keloid&topicRef=15080&source=see_link

Association of Professional Piercers (n.d.) Suggested Aftercare for Body Piercings. Retrieved from https://safepiercing.org/aftercare/