Any time the skin is torn, there is the potential for scarring and other damage. A nose piercing is a significant "tear," going fully through a thick piece of skin, whether it's a nostril piercing or one through the septum. While keloids are most common around ear piercings, they can also form around a nose ring.
An article by Julius Metts in the "Western Journal of Medicine" describes a keloid as a tumor that forms when the skin's fibrous tissue grows at an abnormal rate in response to an injury. Body piercings can cause keloids, as can surgery, cuts, vaccinations and acne. They are more likely to form after injuries of the ear, back and upper chest.
Some people have skin that is naturally predisposed to getting keloids. Those with darker skin, especially of African descent, are particularly vulnerable to their development. If you've gotten keloids before, whether from piercings or other injuries, you should avoid new piercings. Another keloid is likely to form.
Keloids will manifest as large discolored bumps next to the piercing hole in the nose. They might itch or even hurt, and the latter is more common if the nostril or septum swells, making the nose ring put more pressure on it. Since there isn't much blood flow to a keloid, their presence can make new piercings take longer to heal, according to the Body Jewellery Shop.
Metts says that one treatment for keloids is freezing the skin, then injecting triamcinolone, a steroid, directly into the bump. The dermatologist might have to follow up with monthly shots of corticosteroids to completely flatten the keloid. If the cryotherapy and steroids don't work, surgery may be necessary. A shot of triamcinolone would then be injected into the site to keep the keloid from reforming.
The Body Jewellery Shop offers more natural treatments. It says that soaking the site of the piercing in hot salt water and using compresses can treat keloids. It also reports that many people find that some natural oils, such as tea tree, germseed and even extra virgin olive, will repair scars from nose piercings.
Scarring is more likely to occur the more trauma the skin undergoes. Have your nose pierced by a professional in a sanitary setting, and follow his instructions for care. This will also help prevent infection, which is more common in nose piercings because of the constant presence of mucus in the area.
Even after it is completely healed -- which can take six to 12 weeks, according to Dr. Susan Taylor's website -- keep it protected from being pulled or snagged, for example on clothing. More scar tissue forms with each tear, even if it's a tiny one that you don't notice.
- Dr. Susan Taylor's Brownskin.net: Body Piercing
- "Western Journal of Medicine;" Common Complications of Body Piercing; Julius Metts; March 2002
- Body Jewellery Shop: Common Body Piercing Problems
- Drugs.com: Triamcinolone
- "American Family Physician;" Complications of Body Piercing; Donna I. Meltzer, M.D.; Nov. 15, 2005