Discoloration (Hyperpigmentation) From Body Piercing

I received this message through my website:

Hi Elayne,

About five months ago I got my waist pierced. The piercer did not perform the piercing right neither did he use the PTFE in the piercing and it rejected within a matter of weeks and left a really unattractive scar that has slightly faded but is still there.

Three months ago I went to another piercer and I got my belly button pierced & also a surface piercing below my belly button. My piercing did not reject but I still had dark circles around the piercing and ended up taking it out.

attached are pictures of the scars.

hyperpigmentation of piercing scarsnavel piercing scar

I want to get rid of my current scars before I get any more surface piercings. I was wondering if there are any scar remedies (preferably natural) that would help me be able to have surface piercings without the dark discoloration around the area.
To remove the scars I have been using bio-oil. I haven't seen a difference at all. i'm thinking about trying ScarAway tape. I've read reviews and apparently it helps.

I've also read that tamanu oil & also turmeric spice with coconut oil improved discoloration. If I decided to re-pierce would any of these be safe to put on a new piercing to prevent my skin around the piercing to become dark?

Thanks so much,

My reply:

Hi Amber,

Hyperpigmentation (the darkening of your skin) is your body's natural response to the trauma of a piercing. There's nothing anyone could do to prevent it from happening. There's some chance you might be able to diminish the problems you currently have, but the only way to completely avoid this condition in the future is to avoid additional piercings. Even when done properly, on your skin, some darkening is to be expected. In my book, The Piercing Bible--The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing, this is listed among the risks of body piercing:

Scarring and Permanent Physical Changes
A piercing has the potential to be a temporary adornment (especially when compared to a tattoo), because the jewelry can easily be removed. There is a risk, however, of irreversible changes to the body, including discoloration, a mark such as a scar, bump, or dimple, or a permanent hole.

Emu oil is a natural product (though not vegan/vegetarian friendly) and may help prevent excessive trauma during healing, which might minimize your problem. See the attachment from my book. Other than that, I'm not aware of anything you could put on a healing piercing to help this problem, with the exception, perhaps, of saline soaks. The aftercare I advocate can be found here.

I'm not familiar with the use of tamanu oil, turmeric spice and/or coconut oil for this purpose. If you try some or all of these and have success, please let me know!

Have you considered trying surface anchors ("microdermals") instead? They tend to be less invasive and therefore you may experience less discoloration. There's some chance, regardless of what you do, you may experience discoloration.

Hi, I'd like your input as I have had my navel pierced fr two weeks now and am experiencing some purple discoloration around both holes yet I am not bleeding, there is no hotness and neither is there pain or pus, is this normal!??

This is completely normal for dark skin...

the only thing you can do is use oils and wait I've got many piercing and the dark shade around the hole always end up to go... good luck

I may be way off the mark, having no piercing experience past ears, but it looks almost like the reaction you can get from some cheap jewelry.

I don't want to give the lady false hope, but if these scars are the only scars of hers that have done this, it could be metal residue. Stainless won't do this, but a lot of the softer metals, when introduced to the harder carbons that can be found in some makeups and lotions, will abrade and leave a fine residue. A term you could look up for this is "black dermographism". If this women looked at the darkened skin and saw that the darkening was more of a dark dark brown color it's more likely to be the natural pigmentation response listed above, BUT if the mark was more of a black gray and darkened dull silvery color its more likely to be the metal. I feel like if it was just marks from poor quality metal, the circles would go away on their own, but also that some of these particles could become trapped in the scar tissue during rejection or closing up. I have no idea if there are any treatments that would remove the metal in a case such as that or if the body has any way of getting rid of it over time.

As Elayne Angel says above (she knows best!), scarring is a real possibility in piercing. Permanent things happen.

But in addition, it might be worth looking into to get higher quality stainless piercings if you ever get pierced in the future. You can't go back in time, but you can at least avoid making the same mistakes over again. Always research beforehand and get the best piercer you can and the best quality jewelry you can. Your body is worth the trouble.