Piercing Infection vs. Piercing Rejection: What's the Difference?
Two very scary words in the piercing community. Nobody wants to face a complication after they've gone out and gotten a lovely new piercing... But seeing as how both of these words end in the suffix "-ection," it can be tough to know the difference between the two.
Disclaimer: Body Candy is only here to provide helpful information about piercings. If you think you are experiencing any complications with your body piercing, ALWAYS contact your piercer or medical professional as soon as possible.
What is an Infection?
An infection happens when an infestation of bacteria gets into your body (in this case, a piercing) and multiplies.
Remember that a piercing is essentially an open wound. Just like if you got dirt in a cut, getting any sort of foreign matter into your healing piercing can cause an infection.
There are also other ways of causing an infection, like wearing jewelry that is too tight in your piercing. Piercings need to "breathe" (i.e. have access to oxygen) to heal correctly, and plugging your piercing holes with too-tight jewelry can cut off access to oxygen.
How Can I Identify an Infection?
Although an infection can present in many different ways, here are a few common symptoms of piercing infections.
Colorful Discharge - anything yellow, green, or pus-like coming out of your piercing could be a sign of a bacterial infection
Smell - sometimes piercings have a slight odor to them, but any increase in cheesy, rotten, or stinky smells could mean you have an infection
Swelling - it's normal to experience some swelling when you are healing, but excessive swollenness should definitely be examined by a doctor or piercer
Redness - if your piercing becomes excessively red, becomes chapped, or starts peeling, you should have it checked out
Tenderness and pain - a tender piercing is to be expected right after a fresh piercing procedure, but any developments in pain should be closely monitored
Irritation or Itchiness - just like pain, any strange signs of irritation or itchiness should be looked at by a professional
What is a Piercing Rejection?
A rejection occurs when your body naturally pushes your piercing out of your body.
While an infection can certainly lead to a lost piercing, experiencing a rejection doesn't necessarily mean you have an infection in your piercing.
A piercing introduces a piece of jewelry into your body which is essentially a foreign object. Although you might take great care of your piercing, your body could view it as an invader (similar to a sliver) and work naturally to push it out of your body.
Luckily, rejections are much more rare than infections, and usually occur in piercings that are flat (like surface piercings, dermals, eyebrow rings, navels) as opposed to piercings that go through your body (like nose rings or ear piercings).
Every body is different and every piercing procedure is a little bit different. Because of that, it's sometimes impossible to pinpoint exactly why your piercing has rejected.
How Can I Identify A Rejection?
You may be experiencing a rejection if you notice any of the following symptoms:
Migration - Has your body jewelry moved noticeably from its original location?
Thinning skin - Have you noticed that the distance separating the piercing entrance and exit holes is getting smaller?
Shallowness - Can you see your jewelry inside of your piercing? Is your skin becoming transparent due to the shallow depth of the jewelry?
Widening Holes - are your piercing's holes getting wider or increasing in size?
Jewelry Positioning - is your body jewelry sitting in your piercing a bit differently than it used to?
What Should I Do If I think I Have an Infection/Rejection?
Contact your professional piercer or your medical professional right away!
You might think that it's a good idea to simply remove your jewelry right away, but it's important to get your piercer's advice first. In some cases, taking an action like removing the jewelry right away isn't the right answer, as this can potentially trap the existing bacteria inside the piercing site.
Both of these professionals are licensed and experienced enough to provide the proper advice for your piercing in question. If you catch the issue soon enough, you may save yourself from a painful piercing loss and any resulting scarring!