Piercing Problems


It is not uncommon for problems to arise with piercings during the healing phase.  

We recommend that you consult with your piercer at the first indication that something is amiss.  We are available in-store at 70 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro, Wellington or by phoning (04) 801 7005 during business hours.  You can also contact us by email at info@trendez.co.nz or via the Contact Us tab on this website.  We are extremely responsive to emails.

If the piercing is slightly swollen, discoloured, irritated and oozing a bit of clear fluid it is likely just a normal healing piercing. However consulting with a piercer can relieve anxiety and  set you on the right path of caring for your piercing.  

Our consultations are free of charge.

Localized infections

  • The area is tender and warm to touch.
  • Sudden pain and swelling around the piercing.
  • The skin around the piercing is pink or red.
  • The piercing is oozing a small amount of cloudy pus
  • Lymph nodes are swollen.

Note: Some of these symptoms are present in the normal healing phase of a new piercing and don’t always guarantee that the piercing is infected.

Recommended Treatment:

  • Take Ibuprofen to relieve swelling or tenderness.
  • Continue cleaning the area with diluted Tea Tree Oil, available from Trendez, twice daily.
  • Bathe the area in warm saline solution or a warm compress to help extract any fluids and relieve discomfort.
  • Apply an anti-septic cream from the chemist such as Crystaderm.  Follow the advice of the pharmacist.

When to see a Doctor:

  • If symptoms persist or worsen quickly.
  • If the area is very painful, swollen or has red streaks emanating from it.
  • You have pus oozing from the piercing that is greenish, yellowish or grayish.

A doctor can prescribe a topical anti-biotic to treat infected piercings.  The doctor may also choose to prescribe oral antibiotics.


An abscess can occur in a piercing that has initially healed and then becomes inflamed several months after the piercing.  It usually occurs if there has been excessive swelling around the piercing or the jewellery is removed and there is no outlet for the pus to drain.  An abscess is a pocket of pus that is trapped under the skin leaving the surrounding tissue inflamed.

  • Identified by a hard mass under the skin.
  • Gets worse over time and causes nausea, fever and chills.
  • Causes redness and darkening of the skin.
  • An abscess can form a hard lump under the skin without other symptoms

Recommended treatments:

  • In a mild case, without feverish symptoms, a saline bath or a hot compress may help drain the pus.
  • Switching to thinner gauge jewellery may release some pressure if the abscess is close to the piercing hole.
  • Take over the counter painkillers and elevate the area.

When to see a Doctor:

  • If the abscess does not drain with 48 hours.
  • If symptoms worsen.
  • If red streaks emanate from the site.
  • If the lump is more than 2cm across.
  • A fever is present.

Serious infection can spread quickly and become cellulites - Inflammation of the cells that spreads into deeper layers of the skin.  Visit the emergency room if the above symptoms develop rapidly.  An incision drainage procedure to drain the pus is common practice and sometimes antibiotics will also be prescribed.


This is a bacterial infection of the skin and the tissues beneath the skin. Signs of cellulities:

  • Sudden onset of symptoms.
  • Infection spreads beyond a localized area.
  • Area will rapidly become red, shiny, swollen and hot.
  • Feeling of being unwell – nausea, fever, chills and a headache.
  • Lymph nodes around the area will be swollen and tender.

Consult a doctor immediately if these symptoms are present.  Oral anti-biotics or in worse cases intravenous anti-biotics are the only treatment for cellulites.

Follicular Cysts- Piercing Pimples

This is a very common problem with piercings and appears like a pimple adjacent to the piercing site.  It is caused by a hair follicle or dead skin cells obstructing the piercing and causing lymph’s to gather and a small liquid filled lump to appear.  Often this can be remedied by changing the jewellery - If the jewellery is too tight or the gauge is too heavy.  Using light massage or hot compresses or warm salt-water soaks can help draw out the obstruction.  If the area is itchy or inflamed then anti-histamines can be used to relieve these symptoms.

Hypertrophic scarring

A Hypertrophic scar is a small bump, less than 4mm in size, which can appear at the opening of the skin.  The scar normally appears around four to six weeks after getting the piercing, during the initial healing phase.  

When a piercing is healing the cells produce collagen to repair the skin. Sometimes too much collagen is produced, resulting in a build up that grows outside of the piercing channel.

The scar usually occurs if the piercing has been knocked or continually touched causing friction, which encourages the collagen production.  The skin should naturally be healing inwards to create a channel (like a donut).  However with friction, the collagen grows outwards, trying to heal around the jewellery.

These scars can also be the result of an infection, which your body is trying to heal.  

The other cause is any products coming into contact with your piercing that have a chemical base such as make up and hair products.  These scars are most common on ear cartilage and nostril piercings as cartilage is more difficult to heal than skin tissue.  Also these areas are more likely to come in contact with chemicals.

Scars can grow for up to six months and sometimes take months or even years to disappear.  If the scar is growing larger than 4mm and continues to grow, it may be a Keloid scar.  Please consult with your piercer if you are unsure.

To treat a hypertrophic scar we recommend that you consult with a piercer and decide if you need to upsize your jewellery or change to Titanium.  There may be an underlying infection that will have to be cleared up.  Otherwise continue to clean the piercing with diluted Tea Tree Oil and then apply Crystaderm cream twice daily for up to six weeks.  Do no touch the jewellery and if you absolutely have to, then ensure your hands are clean.  Take extra care not to knock the piercing and keep it free of chemicals.  Applying pressure and massage can help to shrink the scar.  Silicone discs are available in-store to wear between the skin and the ball of the jewellery to apply pressure to the bump.

To help prevent scars from forming, follow the aftercare instructions given by your piercer.  In particular clean your piercing twice a day with diluted Tea Tree Oil spray and DO NOT touch it!

See your doctor if there is any sign of infection.  This may include excessive swelling, redness, throbbing pain, a burning feeling or a yellow/greenish pus discharge.

If your piercing is showing any signs of infection – do not remove the jewellery!  If the jewellery is removed the piercing may heal over and leave nowhere for the infection to drain, causing an abscess.