You were really excited about your new belly button piercing, right? It doesn’t matter if the needle hurt. It’s done. Now is the time that you get to show off your new jewelry. But then you notice a bump start to rise near the hole.
You feel dread fill you. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not pretty. After a quick internet search, you come across some possibilities: pustule, granuloma, keloid. Time goes by. As it does, the bump grows larger. You realize it has to be a keloid.
For some people, home remedies are enough. For others though, the keloid may never fully disappear. Keloids don’t have a one cure fits all. That’s why we’re here to help you through the options.
What Is a Keloid?
Be assured: Keloids are quite rare and aren’t a serious medical concern.
A keloid is a bump that forms on the skin after trauma. The trauma can be a cut or a popped pimple, or it can be from getting a piercing. It’s simple. When you get pierced, a needle is forced through your skin to create a hole.
Yet, you may not see a bump for months. That’s because the keloid starts to form during the healing process. As the piercings heals, your skin creates scar tissue. That scar tissue is what keeps a piercing from closing up.
However, there are instances when your body goes into overdrive. In trying to heal, it produces too much scar tissue. Eventually, there is no where to go but up. The scar tissue grows out of the initial trauma and creates a bump.
Is Your Bump a Keloid?
You may wonder, what separates keloids from other bumps? How do you tell them apart? The easiest way is that keloids keep growing.
What starts off just as small as other piercings bumps can sometimes grow large and round. Keloids don’t usually hurt, but they can be uncomfortable. If you gently press on it, the growth will feel different than your normal skin. It will also look shiny and may change color to a deep red or purple.
Why Do They Form?
Keloids seem to appear out of nowhere. After all, it’s been weeks, maybe even months, since you got your piercing. Still, keloids are usually linked to some sort of trauma to the skin. This is why they happen so often with piercings.
But how did you get one when your friend didn’t? Or why did one grow on your belly button but not your ear lobe piercings? It’s unfortunately not that cut and dry. There are many factors that could lead to keloids, including
- Genetics: If a parent has keloids, there is a greater chance that you might get them as well. It doesn’t only come down to genes though. Some people are the first in their family to get them.
- Piercing Metal: Not all piercing rings are created equal. Some are made of low-grade metals, like nickel or copper. If the packaging doesn’t say, it’s probably mixed metal or low grade.
- Piercing Technique: Sometimes the piercer may not have picked the best spot or angle. Now, you shouldn’t go barreling into your piercer’s shop without evidence. However, ensure the piercer is reputable beforehand.
- Improper Aftercare: Keloids can grow if you don’t properly take care of your piercing while it heals. Maybe it had excessive irritation. For instance, belly button piercings often get caught on clothing. Or maybe you were cleaning it with harsh chemicals, like hydrogen peroxide.
These are only potential possibilities for why you got a keloid. It’s difficult to trace them back to one easily identifiable cause.
Can You Prevent Getting a Keloid?
There will always be a risk of getting a keloid with a piercing. However, you can lessen the risk if you do research and properly care for the piercing:
- Research the piercer and belly button piercings beforehand.
- Don’t spin or mess with the piercing too much while it heals.
- Clean it with gentle solutions, such as a salt-water soak or diluted mild soap.
Even this might not keep you keloid free though. It’s necessary to keep an eye on your navel as it heals to watch for any bumps. Luckily, belly buttons aren’t as prone to getting keloids as cartilage-heavy areas like nostril or helix piercings.
How Do You Get Rid of a Keltoid on Your Belly Button Piercing?
So, you have a large bump on your belly button piercing. You’re positive it’s a keloid. What do you do now?
First, remain calm. Yes, it might not look great when you want to show off your stomach. It might get in the way of high-waisted jeans. But it’s not a serious medical concern.
Still, you don’t want it on your belly button piercing. It’s understandable. Just as there isn’t one cause for a keloid, there also isn’t one solution. Talk to your piercer and try some home remedies first:
- Salt-water Soaks: Mix salt with warm water. Soak your belly button piercing for about ten minutes. Repeat this once per day.
- Diluted Tea Tree Oil: Remember to dilute the tea tree oil. It is quite harsh on its own. Dab a little of the mixture on the bump before you sleep. This will dry out the skin. Gently peel off the flaking skin when you wake up.
- Scar Treatments: Look into purchasing silicone sheets, silicone gel, or scar creams with lanolin or petrolatum. You can purchase these online or at a pharmacy. They are made to help reduce scarring—perfect for an abundance of scar tissue.
If these at-home cures don’t seem to work, it might be time to speak with a dermatologist. The doctor may first suggest prescription creams. Next, it may be cryotherapy or steroid injections. Then, if that doesn’t work, they may try radiation or surgery. That, of course, is up to your doctor to decide.
It should be noted that keloids often return, especially after a new trauma like surgery. Again, the keloid won’t harm you if you don’t think it is worth more extreme measures. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons.
Do Keltoids Go Away on Their Own?
You might wonder if the keloid will disappear on its own. After all, it appeared out of nowhere. Maybe it will just vanish one day too.
The possibility exists. Sometimes your body is able to correct itself. It will be more likely to shrink if you follow the proper care for it and try some of the previously mentioned home remedies.
It’s best not to bank on a keloid disappearing on its own. If it is still on your belly button piercing after a few weeks—or worse, has continued to grow—consider talking with your doctor about further options to get rid of your keloid.
Should You Remove Your Piercing if You Have a Keloid?
Your first instinct might be to take your belly button piercing out. Restrain yourself though. While the keloid may have appeared because of your piercing, it won’t vanish if you take it out.
You also don’t know for sure what the bump is. Perhaps it’s an infection. If you take out your piercing, the hole could close up with the infection inside.
The only recommended reason for taking the piercing out is to change it to a better metal. Some metals to consider are surgical steel, titanium, or 18- and 24-karat gold. However, if you feel you need to take it out, speak to your piercer or doctor first.
How Long Can They Last?
You may not see a keloid form for three months to a year after you get your belly button pierced. Then, it will slowly grow larger. It could last for weeks or months depending on how it reacts to treatments. Because keloids vary so much, some could stay for good. Even if a keloid reacts to treatment, you may not get your desired results. Some only decrease in size but never truly vanish. And there is a higher likelihood of keloids in the future.
Living With a Keloid
Keloids may not be the prettiest side effect from your belly button piercing, but they are harmless. These small bumps may appear out of nowhere and grow gradually over long spans of time. For what it’s worth, it’s a rare condition. If you don’t have one, there’s no reason to expect to get a keloid with every piercing.
Instead, just be careful. When it comes to belly button piercings, be mindful of your clothes so that it doesn’t get caught or pulled. Other than that, keep it clean with mild solutions.
If a keloid does rear its ugly head and you don’t know what to do, talk to your piercer or doctor. They want your piercing and your body to be just as amazing as you do.