Often mistaken for keloid or hypertrophic scarring, irritation lumps are the most common issue found in piercings.
Cartilage (including that in nostrils) is most susceptible to this, but can happen anywhere on the body and can be caused by a range of difference sources.
You can differentiate from keloid scarring based on the lump’s size – irritation lumps are usually localised to the fistula or relatively closely, while Keloid scarring grows beyond the piercing site and becomes out of control.
An irritation lump will present as either as a red bump that appears fluid filled alongside a piercing or as a ring of angry red, puffy tissue encompassing the opening to a fistula.
Irritation lumps are usually caused by a combination of pressure and excess moisture. The angle in which the jewellery sits in the piercing channel can also be significant factor - if a piercing is not sat perpendicular to the anatomy these lumps will develop to try and support the extra pressure caused by the jewellery.
Your jewellery may be too tight through excess swelling, or may be in an area where you sweat a lot which causes irritation.
This is why it is recommended to downsize your jewellery at the appropriate times - jewellery that is ill fitting can also cause irritation over time - and to thoroughly dry your piercing after cleans/bathing etc.
Jewellery quality and surface finish can also play a large part – you find that jewellery made from substandard materials will cause irritation to the wearer, more often than not. See the section about Implant Grade jewellery for more information.
Irritation lumps are usually taught around both ends to the point where they may appear to be filled with fluid and are a dark reddish/brown colour which is why many mistake them for Keloid Scarring.
Ensuring that your jewellery is made from appropriately fitted, mirror polish implant grade titanium or solid gold jewellery is the best way to ensure your piercing stays healthy and happy - make sure it doesn't come into contact with outside irritants such as cosmetics and to ensure it's been thoroughly dried after cleans or showers!
Irritation lumps usually come and go of their own accord - if your jewellery isn't properly fitted and the swelling has subsided (usually after 4-8 weeks of being pierced) it might benefit from the post being downsized or the ring diameter being made smaller.
DO NOT use natural oils such as tea tree/jojoba or antiseptics such as Dettol or TCP to attempt to treat ANY type of piercing scarring, or in relation to your fresh/healed piercing IN ANY WAY. These are extremely irritant and WILL cause a reaction, leading to excessive scarring, delayed healing or having to retire the piercing entirely.
Ensure to always dry your piercing thoroughly with a hairdryer on cool or a hand held fan after any time it’s been wet.