Navel Piercing Problems: "Granuloma" or "Hypergranulation Tissue"?

I received a message from a woman who has an unhealed navel piercing that is showing signs of developing granuloma:

Hi! My navel piercing is about 2 and a half months old. I irritated it at first from playing with it (I know-big no no) but it cleared up when I stopped touching it and cleaned with H2Ocean. I quickly ran out of the solution and stopped cleaning it about a month ago. I ocassionally do sea salt soaks but only when it flares up. I've been taking my ring out a lot lately (another no no) and I recently (about 2 days ago) noticed this pink/red fleshy bubble/growth coming out of the bottom hole of my navel piercing. It is squishy, moves easily, doesn't hurt, but bleeds easily. It looks a lot worse than it feels. It secretes lymph and often sticks itself to the bottom ball on my ring. I ordered some H2Ocean and tea tree oil the other day to try and get rid of it. For now, I put 3% hydrogen peroxide on it 2x a day and do a sea salt soak. I just don't know whether it is a granuloma or hypergranulation? It freaks me out because it's kind of large. Probably half the size of a pea. What can I do to make it go away? How long will it take? Will I have to abandon my piercing? I love it and I don't want to take it out!!! I have attached quite a few pictures!

Thank you so much! -A

Navel piercing with Hypergranulation Navel piercing with Hypergranulation

Navel piercing with Hypergranulation Navel piercing with Hypergranulation

My response:

Hi A,

The two terms in the subject line are just different names for the same problem. Navel piercings take 6-9 months or longer to heal, so you need to be prepared to make a commitment. You cannot simply stop taking care of it! You've got an open wound there and serious health consequences can result from failing to attend to it properly. This isn't just a matter of whether it looks cute. The piercing is an opening into your body and if you are not cautious with it, you can end up giving yourself a serious infection, or even a deadly disease. This is no joke!

You have clearly been abusing your piercing and cannot expect it to heal properly as long as you continue to do so, even if it is off-and-on misbehavior. You absolutely cannot take jewelry in and out of a healing piercing and expect to not have complications.

I just can't overstate the seriousness of this issue. It will take some patience and dedication to heal your piercing, along with consistency. This is one of the reasons I describe body piercing as similar to getting a pet!

This is from my book, The Piercing Bible:

Getting a piercing is kind of like adopting a pet: substantial maturity and patience are required to deal with it. Even the most resolute of piercees can feel challenged by the need to perform daily cleaning and to withstand the temptation to touch their piercing with dirty fingers for many months. Do you have the fortitude to wait half a year before changing your navel ring?

If you are lax about your health or hygiene, you are not a good candidate for piercing. You must support the healing process by taking care of yourself and keeping your environment—including your clothes and linens—clean. A nonstop party lifestyle will inhibit your body’s ability to heal.

A certain level of financial solvency is also necessary because good body jewelry can be expensive. If the piece you are wearing is irritating your piercing or you lose a ball or some other emergency comes up, you may have to purchase new jewelry without advance notice. You must have the means to buy the best products and not borrow used jewelry from a friend (danger!) or pick up a cut-rate item at a novelty store. Quality body jewelry is not cheap, but it is indispensable. 

Finally, emotional maturity and poise is needed to deal with adverse reactions. Will your feelings be hurt if people give you dirty looks or make disparaging comments? Can you handle having your relatives, friends, or coworkers express criticism or even disgust? If not, think twice about whether piercing is right for you, because not everyone will approve.

This page of my site provides some of the information in my book on troubleshooting the problem: