April 7th, 2013
I received a message from a woman who was experiencing unusual discharge from a healed nipple piercing:
I had my nipples pierced when I was 18, took them out when I was 22. I am now 32, my left nipple when pinched has a creamy white (normal) discharge like an ear, but my right nipple has a thin watery brown discharge. I had no infection when I removed the jewelry, but its been 10 years and I still get a little brownish discharge sometimes. There is no pain, no swelling, no extra sensitivity. I clean the area daily, have a very healthy lifestyle, and was curious if there is anything I can do to stop it without going on antibiotics?
Have you ever tried a regimen of 2-3 daily saline soaks for 2 weeks or so? Sometimes that will dry up/clear up discharge issues with abandoned piercings.
Feel free to send a clear, close up photo or two if you like. That isn't something I have heard about or seen in my career.
The coloration and consistency of the discharge don't seem consistent with infection, so you probably don't need antibiotics.
My "better safe than sorry" suggestion would be that you pay a visit to a piercing-friendly physician for input and advice.
Please keep me posted!
Thanks for your response. I have been using saline twice a day for the last week, and it has gone away almost completely. Thanks so much for your help, I have been trying to get this to go away for 10 years.
April 3rd, 2013
I received a message from a piercee who had questions about earlobe stretching:
I was having a little bit of trouble with gauging my ear lobes. Generally, I would use your website or book to figure something out, but the browser on my phone's acting up and I do not have the internet at home. Anywho, I stretched from a 6ga. to a 4 last week and since have been noticing a crust build up. I used a taper with o-rings to wear initially. I doesn't hurt or stink and yesterday I switched the tapers out with silicone tunnel plugs. Is this advisable, and if not, is there a way to resolve my problem without moving back to the 6? Could it just be the o-rings bothering me? Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.
I do not advocate wearing such a taper for any length of time, even if it is made of implant grade material. This is from my book and it applies to tapers as well as tapered jewelry:
Tapered Jewelry: Caution
Many graduated jewelry styles come in metal, glass, acrylic, and an array of natural materials. A popular type is called a stretching crescent or stretching ring, and these are basically curved or circular insertion tapers. Variations include talons that are hooked or bent, spirals, and straight pieces that look just like insertion tapers. These can be dangerous because piercees have a tendency to cause tissue damage by stretching too quickly with them. Also, when tapered jewelry is used for stretching, the O-rings that are required to keep the ornament in place can cause irritation from excessive pressure against the skin. Tapered jewelry is safest in holes that have already been stretched.
This is also from my book--not everyone can wear silicone, and it may be especially unsuited to it if you're experiencing crusting, which indicates unhealed/open tissue:
March 22nd, 2013
I recieved a message from a woman who was concerned about the odor of her healed nipple piercings:
I am a female that has a nipple piercing from a reliable professional piercer who you recommend.
I have fairly large nipples and he used a large gage post for my piercing. I experienced many months of bloody leakage that finally healed. My piercing is over 2 years old, but now I have a daily discharge of white fluid that has an odor. I want to have an attractive piercing that isn’t stinky. Could I schedule a consultation to review my situation and possible options? Do I need to just remove my piercing? Can I exchange it for another gage? Can I change it out for a different piece of jewelry? I love having my nipple pierced and how it feels, but the drainage is really a bother. I hope you can advise me on my options.
Thanks for your message. If you've had your piercing for over 2 years and the discharge is smelly, I believe I know what you need. An appointment with me is not required. You're welcome to change your jewelry, but that is not required and is unlikely to have any effect on this particular situation.
The excerpt below is from my book, The Piercing Bible--The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing, and it explains the issue:
Sebum is a substance from your oil glands that collects in healed piercing channels. It is a naturally occurring product of the body, containing fat, keratin (a fibrous protein), and cellular material. The purpose of sebum is to protect your skin and hair, keep it moisturized, and to inhibit the growth of microorganisms on the skin. People sometimes mistake it for pus, but it is more solid and cheeselike and has a distinctive rotten odor that reflects the dead cellular debris it contains.
March 20th, 2013
I received a message from a woman who wondered if her water consumption could affect the healing process:
OMG! Let me start off by saying that I'm so excited that you have an advice column sort of thing. I have had your book for years, and I've always wanted to ask you questions. Anywho I've had my nipple piercing done for about 6 months. It still crusts up, and I know that it has not completely healed. It used to have previous issues until I had my piercer change the barbell to a longer one. I still use salt water soaks every time it gets irritated, but I've noticed that as I've been drinking a lot of water it has stopped crusting up as much. Is this because I'm in the final stages of healing or the amount of water I've been drinking?
Thanks for your message. I haven't ever heard of increased water consumption being responsible for a major healing effect. That said, being hydrated is important for overall health and well being, so it couldn't hurt to continue drinking a lot of water.
And, you may find (as described in my book) that you will have ups and downs over time. You may have stopped crusting now, and whether you drink a lot of water or not, you may have more secretion once again. Don't be surprised by that cycle.
March 10th, 2013
Here's a recent consultation I performed for a woman who needed assistance with determining the best placement for a nostril piercing:
I have a placement dilemma. For years, I’ve secretly admired nose piercings but was too afraid to get a piercing of my own until about 4 months ago. I was initially apprehensive due to being employed in a white collar work setting and being over 40 years old. I did tons of research and decided to go for it-especially after learning that there is a variety of “discreet” jewelry, to avoid having to remove my piercing while at work.
Upon arriving at the tattoo/piercing studio, I had already envisioned where I wanted the placement on my left nostril to be. I assumed that by requesting that the placement be madenear the lower part of my nostril & back-it would be an ideal way for the placement to be discreet.
Well, after looking at my placement over and over again. I feel that I did not choose an ideal or flattering spot for the piercing. I have since taken out my nose jewelry to let the piercing close, so that I can have it re-pierced.
Elayne, I have enclosed some pictures for you to assess the “best” placement location.
I've indicated what I believe would be the best placement for your nostril piercing on the photos you provided. One shows just a small circle for the placement I would describe as an ideal aesthetic for your anatomy. Let me know if you have additional questions.
March 4th, 2013
I received a message from a woman who was concerned about her new Forward Helix piercing:
Hi there! I got my forward helix and snug done on February 5th and the healing for the forward helix isn't going as smoothly as I'd planned. I have several other ear piercings but this one feels sore, hurts to smile or move my mouth, and has blood crusties coming out. My piercer used a hoop instead of a barbell for the jewelry, could that be the source of my problem? The snug is healing beautifully with no problems and I have my industrial in the other ear which gave me no problems as well.
If the cause of the problem is from the hoop, would it be safe to change it right away then?
The piercing is still brand new; you need to give it a little time to settle in. Blood and secretions aren't indicative of any problem at this stage, and neither is discomfort or even pain.
I have put hoops in on many occasions in that location and everything has healed up just fine. I think you need to just give it some time (assuming the jewelry is high quality). The fit looks appropriate, and so the initial jewelry should be left in for at least a few months before changing it.
February 28th, 2013
I received a message from someone who got a lip piercing and was concerned about how it was healing:
Hi! 8 days ago I got my lip pierced professionally. I was pierced with the standard gauge at 16g stud. My cleaning regimen goes like this: Every morning after my first smoke and breakfast, I brush my teeth, do a 50/50 mouthwash with water and Listerine, and clean the outside with antibacterial soap. When I get out of the shower I do a sea-salt soak for 3-5 minutes depending on how it feels. These actions are per my piercer. After I eat or smoke I swish sea-salt water. I do the morning regimen before bed, skipping the last sea-salt soak. My problem resides on the inside of my lip where the back of the stud sits against my lip. I'm trying not to panic, but I am known to overcook things when I notice something weird going on on/in my body. What I SEE looks like a small mound of scar tissue; it's not very red and there is no leakage other than small amounts of lymph. I should tell you that this scar tissue (or whatever it might be) is aiding in the back of the stud leaving a mark where it sits. What I FEEL is a small lump under the skin just next to my piercing. If I show anyone what I am feeling, they would not see it as it is impossible to see under the scar tissue. It worries me because I don't want to take it out or get rid of it. It looks pretty and I love it. I wouldn't think it is because my long stud is too short because it sticks out a ways in front.
February 24th, 2013
I received a message from a piercee who was concerned about her nipple piercing, which appeared to be migrating:
I had both nipples done back in August. The one had to be removed about 3 months later because of rejection and now I think the other is doing the same.
I have been under a lot of stress but I'm just not sure. It's not in the same place anymore.
Yes, sorry-that does appear to be migration.
Did you use the same jewelry the first time?
I noticed your jewelry appears to have a matte finish and that can cause problems, especially in a new/healing piercing. Initial jewelry should have a super-smooth, high polish mirror finish for safety. It is unclear whether the ring would have been wide enough for optimal safety when the piercing was new. The part of a ring that passes through the tissue should be relatively straight.
You should probably go ahead and remove that ring now to avoid further tissue damage.