All About Piercing Bumps

All About Piercing Bumps

Do you have a new piercing with a bump on or near it?  Piercing bumps are far more common than you may realize, but not to worry, we are here to help.  There are three common types of piercing bumps: keloids, hypertrophic scars, and hematomas.  We will guide you through the different types of piercing bumps and how to identify and treat each one.



Often when a piercing bump is found, the first concern is that it may be a keloid.  A keloid is an overgrowth of scar tissue that occurs during the wound healing process (Jansen, 2021).  Keloids can develop at surgical scars and piercings (which are also wounds).  They typically have a shiny appearance and grow well outside of the confines of the wound. Although not medically concerning, they can be an aesthetic nightmare.  

Who is at risk of developing a keloid?

Keloids are more rare and develop in 5-15% of all wounds (including surgical wounds and traumas) (Jansen, 2021).  If you have a family member who is prone to developing keloids after surgery or minor wounds, then you are at a higher risk of developing a keloid.  To reduce your risk of developing a keloid from ear piercing, it is recommended that those with a family history of keloids either get their ears pierced before age 11 or not at all (Jansen, 2021).  

Studies show that those with darker-pigmented skin are more likely to develop keloids compared to those with lighter skin (Lane, Waller, & Davis, 2005).  It’s important to note that the development of a keloid does not reflect the piercer’s abilities.  

You may not know you’re prone to developing keloids until your ears are pierced.  Fortunately, there are treatment options available.

How are Keloids Treated?

Keloids require medical attention for diagnosis and effective treatment.  There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to eliminating a keloid.  However, there are four general types of therapies:

Occlusive dressings

Dressings comprised of silicone sheets placed directly on the keloid are a non-invasive way to treat keloids.  This type of therapy can take up to a year to see any improvement in the scar; however, the keloid will not completely go away.  


Compression therapy is especially useful for keloids on the ear lobes. Typically, a compressive device must be custom-made to fit an individual’s ear and worn 24 hours a day.

Injectable Steroids

This is often a first-line treatment for keloids; however, the results vary widely.  When used alone, it can take 5 years to see results, and there is a high chance of the keloid developing again years later (9-50% chance) (Jansen, 2021).  

Steroid injections are more effective when combined with surgical intervention (Jansen, 2021).  


In extreme cases, the only treatment is surgical removal of the keloid scar.  Surgery alone has a high risk of reoccurrence - meaning that the scar will redevelop.  However, when combined with injectable steroids, the risk of recurrence is significantly lessened.  

This is not an exhaustive list of treatments;  please contact your physician or other qualified healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment options that may work for you.

Friction Bumps (AKA Hypertrophic Scars)

Friction bumps are very common on new ear piercings; it’s more likely that your piercing bump is actually a friction bump rather than a keloid. They appear as a bump on or near the piercing. They may be red and itchy and may or may not ooze clear fluid. Although irritating, they are not permanent and will go away in a matter of weeks with proper care.

How to Treat a Friction Bump

The key to effectively treating a friction bump is proper aftercare and eliminating any sources of friction.  For this reason, we highly recommend Rowan’s Advanced Ear Cleaning Solution, which is an antibacterial hypochlorous solution that also works to speed healing time by promoting white blood cell activity in the area.  It’s essential to protect your piercings against any unintentional snags; hair, clothing, or scarves are notorious for pulling on piercings.  

Sleeping is a huge source of friction against a new piercing.  For some, it’s easy to avoid sleeping on a new piercing, but for most, it’s easier said than done.  Using an ear piercing pillow is a great option for side sleepers.  It has an opening in the center for your ear, allowing you to sleep lying on the same side as your piercing without putting any friction or pressure on your piercing.  

In some cases, an earring back may be uncomfortably rubbing against your skin.  In this instance,  hoops are a great alternative to studs (if you can change your earrings*), as the hoop eliminates any need for an earring back. (For most placements, a 12 mm hoop will fit nicely.)  Not to mention it improves air flow to the piercing, which also aids in healing.  If you want to add some extra sparkle, adding a lightweight charm is a great way to show off your individuality!   

Avoid making homemade remedies or applying ointments, alcohol, or tea tree oil to your piercing bumps. These can further irritate the skin, causing more harm than good.

Friction bumps are very common in new piercings and are not a reflection of your piercer’s abilities.  

*Putting a hoop in a new piercing is not advisable until the initial healing timeframe has passed Check with your piercer or return to one of our studios for guidance from one of our nurses to see when you can change your new piercing.


Some people may report feeling a hard “ball” or lump inside of their lobes after piercing.  Often, this is a hematoma.  Hematomas are a collection of blood in a defined area.  Although uncomfortable, they are harmless and will go away on their own in time.  

What Causes a Hematoma?

A hematoma forms when a small blood vessel inside your ear (called a capillary) is knicked in the piercing process.   It will bleed a small amount into the surrounding area, creating a hard ball inside the tissue.  These are more common in the lobes than in the cartilage, as the ear lobe has its own internal blood supply, whereas ear cartilage receives its blood supply from the surrounding skin.  

How to Treat a Hematoma

Most earlobe hematomas are small and will disappear on their own in weeks to months. To help the healing process, you can apply a warm compress to the area two times a day. Just be sure to clean your piercings with aftercare when you’re done!

Piercing bumps happen to the best of us, but with a little prevention and guidance, you’ll be on your way to enjoying your new piercing sans bump in no time!

The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. Information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and those seeking personal medical advice should consult with a licensed physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 


Jansen, D. (2021).  Keloids.,original%20margins%20of%20the%20scar 

Lane, J. E., Waller, J. L., & Davis, L. S. (2005). Relationship between age of ear piercing and keloid formation. Pediatrics, 115(5), 1312–1314.

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