Do You Have a Piercing Bump or Keloid? (+ Pictures)

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Getting bumps after a piercing can be upsetting. Asides from the discomfort you feel, you also wonder why there are bumps around your new piercing and if they will ever go away. Piercing bumps and keloids are two types of post-piercing bumps, and if you’re new to getting piercings, it’s easy to confuse one for another.

We’ve put this piercing bump vs keloid article together to help you understand the difference between keloids and piercing bumps. We’ll show you what you can do about each type of bump and possible ways to prevent them for your next piercing. 

What are keloids?

A keloid is a thick, raised, irregularly shaped scar formed above the skin after an injury or piercing. When your skin is injured or pierced, it heals itself by producing a lot of collagen (a type of protein). Sometimes, the body produces too much collagen, leading to keloids. 

Keloids may look red, pink, or very dark. They are usually harder than the surrounding skin and hairless. A hypertrophic scar is another form of “raised scar,” and it’s pretty different from a keloid.  

Although hypertrophic scars are also caused by an overproduction of collagen, only the wounded area becomes raised. Keloids, though, may extend beyond the injured area. 

For instance, a piercing is only a dot on your earlobe, but a keloid from that piercing may grow to cover your entire earlobe. 

ear keloid vs piercing bump


Hypertrophic scars are also easier to treat than keloids because keloids are more stubborn and aggressive. 

Keloids may be painful and itchy as they grow. They can also be embarrassing, especially when they grow on a visible area like the earlobes. But aside from cosmetic concerns and the discomfort they cause while growing, keloids are not dangerous to your health. 

What is a piercing bump?

A piercing bump is a swollen, lumpy bump that forms at the site of a piercing as it heals. It’s common in cartilage piercings (like nose and upper ear piercings), and it occurs as part of the body’s response to a piercing. 

Piercing bumps may be accompanied by other symptoms like itchiness, tenderness, and fluid production. They may hurt, but piercing bumps are not harmful to your health unless they become infected. They’re also usually small and not as noticeable as keloids. 

piercing bump on ear


Piercing bump vs keloid: what is the difference? 

Piercing bumps and keloids appear after a piercing, but they are very different skin conditions. We’ve explained key differences to help you identify piercing bump vs keloid:


Keloids are usually big and hard, with a smooth surface. They grow bigger than the original injury or the piercing site. On the flip side, piercing bumps are typically small and only cover the piercing site. Additionally, piercing bumps look pink or have the color of the person’s skin. Keloids may be red, pink, brown, or very dark, and they tend to get darker with time. 


Keloids can keep growing for months or even years after their first appearance, but piercing bumps do not become larger than their original appearance or size.  


Piercing bumps develop soon after the piercing. Keloids begin to develop sometime between three to twelve months after the piercing. Piercing bumps often occur as part of the body’s natural response to injury. On the other hand, keloids arise from a dysfunction of the wound-healing process. 

Piercing Bump vs Keloid Pictures

Piercing bumps look different from keloids, and itโ€™s easy to tell them apart. Here are some pictures to help you tell whether itโ€™s a piercing bump or a keloid.    

Nose Piercing Keloid vs Bump

nose piercing bump vs keloid


Piercing Bump vs Keloid on Tragus Piercing

tragus piercing bump
Piercing bump on tragus


keloid on tragus
keloid on tragus


Piercing Bump vs Keloid on Helix Piercing

piercing bump vs keloid on helix


How to Treat a Piercing Bump

Piercing bumps are part of your body’s natural response to injury, so there are no sure ways to prevent them. However, if you notice a bump around your new piercing, you can use these tips to keep it from getting infected:

  • Keep the piercing clean by washing your hands before touching it, cleaning your earrings, and cleaning the piercing with saline solution two times a day. 
  • Avoid picking at a bump, and don’t attempt to press it out.
  • Do not change your jewelry immediately after a new piercing. Leave it in until the piercing heals.
  • Use jewelry made from hypoallergenic metals for new piercings. They are less likely to irritate your skin and worsen your piercing bump. 

๐Ÿ’ก Caution: Infected bumps take longer to heal and could lead to other complications. If you notice that the area around your piercing bump is swollen, hot, and produces yellow, green, or white pus, it’s most likely infected. You’ll need to see your healthcare provider and probably get some antibiotics.  

What to Do About a Keloid 

If keloids make you self-conscious and you want to get rid of them, it’s best to visit a dermatologist. They’ll help you choose the best treatment option for removing or at least reducing your keloids. These are some  treatment options they may suggest.


Surgically cutting your keloids is one way to get rid of them, but sadly, the technique isn’t perfect. Almost all keloids grow back after surgery. Your dermatologist may recommend other treatments after your surgery to reduce the chances of your keloid growing back.   

Applying Pressure

This treatment method involves putting pressure on the area affected by the keloids. You can do this for keloids on the earlobes by using special “pressure earrings.”

For piercings in other areas, you can use pressure garments instead. Applying pressure on the piercing site will help prevent keloids regrowth. This option is often used as a post-surgery treatment. 


Your doctor may inject medicines like corticosteroids into the keloid to shrink it. These medicines effectively shrink most keloids, and they are often used after a keloid surgery to prevent regrowth. 


Cryotherapy is effective for removing small keloids. It works by using extremely low temperatures to freeze and remove abnormal tissues. Your dermatologist may recommend cryotherapy treatments along with other treatment options like injections. 

๐Ÿ’ก Take Note: Keloids can be stubborn, and they often have to be treated with a combination of treatments. Over-the-counter creams won’t help you get rid of keloids.

Can you prevent keloids?

If you’ve had keloids before or someone in your family has them, then there’s a high chance that you’ll grow a keloid after your piercing. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to prevent keloids from growing. 

  • If you notice that a piercing site thickens, identify it as a sign of keloid growth. Remove the piercing earring, and change to a pressure earring immediately. 
  • Use pressure garments after getting body piercings. 
  • Keep the pressure earring (or garment) on for about six months, and wear it for at least 12 hours every day. 

Unfortunately, getting a piercing (especially in adulthood) comes with a risk of keloid formation, and most times itโ€™s impossible to prevent.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do keloids go away if you take out the piercing?

An already formed keloid won’t go away if you remove the piercing. You’ll need to get medical help.

Are piercing bumps normal?

Piercing bumps are normal, and they can form a few days after getting a new piercing. They’re usually nothing to worry about. 

Are keloids permanent?

Keloids may continue to grow for years. They’ll stop growing at some point, but they won’t go away without treatment.  

Don’t Panic

If you have a piercing bump, there’s no need to panic. Lots of people get them. As long as you keep it from getting infected, it’ll naturally disappear with time and won’t cause you any trouble. Keloids will not harm you either, but if they make you uncomfortable or upset, it’s time to see a dermatologist.

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