Piercing Rejection: Causes, Signs, and Prevention

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The thought of getting a new piercing is exciting. But the healing period can be a rollercoaster of emotions, especially when it looks like your piercing is rejecting. While this is not a common experience, it does happen and may usually mean the end of that particular piercing.

Piercing rejection is caused by various factors, and in some cases, you can prevent it. Read on to discover whether your piercing is rejecting, the causes, and how to prevent it with your new body piercing.

What is piercing rejection?

Piercing rejection occurs when your body pushes out your piercing jewelry before the piercing heals. It usually starts slowly and requires careful observation to notice it.

What does it mean when a piercing rejects?

Piercing rejection is typically an immune response to a foreign body. A piercing rejects when your body recognizes the piercing jewelry as a foreign body and, to protect itself pushes it out.

Is piercing rejection painful?

Piercing rejection is not painful, but the piercing area may feel sore and cause scarring. 

Why do some piercings get rejected?

A piercing may reject for the reasons below.

Piercing type

Some piercing types are more prone to rejection than others. For example, a surface piercing has a high chance of rejection because a small amount of tissue holds the jewelry in place. 


Piercing jewelry requires some kind of hold, and some areas in the body, especially flat areas, don’t provide enough. Also, some tight areas may pressure the piercing, increasing the chances of it rejecting. 


Genetics influences how the body heals wounds, so the timeline and how smoothly the healing process will differ among individuals. In some cases, the immune system completely rejects the piercing jewelry. So, if one of your family members is prone to piercing rejections, there’s a high chance you will too. 


Piercing infections typically clear off with proper aftercare practices. However, left untreated, an infection can slowly lead to a piercing rejection.

Metal sensitivity

When people with metal sensitives use piercing jewelry made from allergy-inducing metals, it may lead to piercing rejection. Allergic reactions can cause the jewelry to migrate and eventually reject.  

Fluctuation in body weight

Significant changes in body weight will stretch or make the skin taut, affecting the placement of the piercing jewelry. Depending on the new placement, the piercing may be at risk for rejection.

What piercings reject the most?

Some piercings are so prone to rejection that they’re commonly called temporary piercings. They include: 

They’re mostly surface piercings with insufficient tissue to hold the piercing jewelry down and are high movement areas that can cause increased irritation slowing down the healing process. 

Which piercing is least likely to reject?

Cartilage piercings are least likely to reject. They include:

How do you know if your body is rejecting a piercing?

During the healing process, look out for piercing rejection signs, including the following:

  • Inflammation
  • Migration of the piercing jewelry closer to the skin’s surface
  • The tissue between the entry and exit holes becoming smaller
  • The jewelry moving to a different position from where it was initially inserted
  • The piercing area becoming transparent, so you see the jewelry underneath

What does a rejecting piercing look like?

A piercing rejection will typically look like the ones below.

Rejected dolphin bites

rejected dolphin bites - Piercing Rejection: Causes, Signs, and Prevention


Rejected eyebrow piercing

rejected eyebrow piercing


Rejected belly piercing 

rejected belly piercing


Rejected daith piercing

rejected daith piercing


Piercing rejection vs. infection: How to tell the difference

Piercing rejection and infection are usually mistaken for one another, mainly because, sometimes, infections lead to these rejections. However, there are some apparent differences. Before you panic, here are some differences between your piercing rejection and infection.

  • With infections, the area is usually painful, swollen, and may feel hot to touch, while rejections are associated with discomfort.
  • Infections will have whitish or greenish pus ooze out of the piercing, but with rejections, the area is typically dry.
  • Infections may make you generally sick with a fever, while rejection doesn’t cause general body illness.

Can a piercing migrate but not reject? 

Yes, your piercing can migrate without ultimately rejecting. Migration may sometimes happen when the jewelry placement is in the area that stresses the piercing, and to heal the wound, your body shifts the jewelry. 

If you’re wondering, “is my piercing migrating or rejecting?” you’ll need to give it time to tell.

Migration takes time, and you’ll be unable to tell the difference in a few days, but taking a picture every few days can help you notice the change in position.

With rejection, you’ll experience soreness, and entry and exit holes will become more prominent.  

What to do if a piercing is rejecting 

If your piercing is rejecting, here are some tips that will help: 

  • Remove the jewelry
  • Use a different piece of jewelry, and ensure it’s the correct gauge size, length, and material
  • Avoid covering the piercing with bandages
  • Contact the piercer to figure out the reason your piercing is rejecting
  • Practice proper aftercare practices

While these will not necessarily stop your piercing from rejecting, they’ll help to reduce the scarring and increase the chance of re-piercing that area. 

How long should you wait to re-pierce a rejected piercing?

You should wait three to six months before re-piercing a rejected piercing. Ensure it’s completely healed, and you visit a professional piercer to have it pierced correctly. 

Should I go to the doctor for a rejected piercing?

No, you don’t need to go to the doctor for a rejected piercing. Your best bet is to remove the piercing jewelry or visit your piercer to remove it for you. However, if you think your piercing is infected, you may need to visit a doctor. 

5 tips for preventing piercing rejection 

Here’s what you can do to reduce the chances of piercing rejection:

  • Visit a professional piercer. Piercing yourself increases chances of rejection as you may get the placement wrong.
  • Wear jewelry made of hypoallergenic materials like titanium, surgical steel, and solid gold.
  • Follow aftercare practices diligently to avoid getting an infection.
  • Avoid surface piercings if possible since they’re prone to rejection.
  • Use the right jewelry size for your new piercing and downsize on time (as advised by your piercer).

Avoid the scarring

Piercing rejections are uncommon, but when they happen, they can leave scars. Some piercings, especially surface piercings, are prone to rejection. If you choose to get them still, remember to remove them as soon as you notice migration, to reduce scarring

In most cases, piercing rejection is unavoidable. But you can reduce the chances if you visit an experienced piercer, use the right jewelry type and size, and follow the proper aftercare practices. 

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