Quick Reference

All of the advice listed on this page is non-medical. If you are worried about your stretched piercing you should always seek medical advice.

General Problems

Trouble Stretching | Discharge | Lip Blowing | Allergic Reactions | Problem Jewellery | Stuck Jewellery

Trouble going up to a new size. The most common cause of this problem is a build up of scar tissue in the piercing.

      • Be patient. You may need up to 6 months to loosen enough for some sizes.
      • Interact with the piercing. Take the jewellery in and out, play with it (using clean hands).
      • Try tape rather than tapers.Taping up your jewellery is a much more gradual way of stretching. Read more about this technique.
      • Downsize. Go back down a size or two. Relaxing the tissue helps stretch.
      • Massage. Daily circular massage is an important technique for stretching. More information can be found here.

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Discharge. It is natural to see certain discharge with stretched piercings. It is most often light yellow or white in colour and may feel a little waxy or smell a little cheesy. It is not a sign of infection.

      • Regular salt water soaks or thorough cleanings in the shower are essential.
      • Try PTFE jewellery as it is harder for discharge to stick on it and build up.
      • Use a mixture of bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice to clean your jewellery regularly.
      • Use tea tree, bergamot and sandalwood essential oils on the piercing (ideally diluted 10 drops for every 30ml of vegetable / body oil or moisturiser)

Lip Blowing. Sometimes a lip that has a stretched lip piercing will ‘peek’ or ‘blow’ over the top of the jewellery.

      • Unfortunately there is little that can be done for this problem
      • Regular massages may help to reduce the effect but downsizing to a size where the lip didn’t blow is the only way to remove it.
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Allergic Reactions. Cheap materials like acrylic, silicone, Fimo and surgical steel can cause allergic reactions.

      • Symptoms include: Redness, Swelling, Itching, A rash, Constant soreness, Blisters or Peeling skin.
      •  First Salt water soak the piercing.
      • Then Change the jewellery for something more suitable.
      • If the piercing is very irritated using a hot chamomile tea bag should help.

Problem Jewellery. Certain cheap types of jewellery can cause problems. To sort these problems salt water soak the jewellery before removing it and replacing it with something suitable.

      • Silicone. Causes micro-tears and scar tissue to form. Can even kill off tissue.
      • Acrylic, PMMA (‘dental’ acrylic) and Fimo plastics can be easily scratched and cause irritation swelling, discomfort infection or tearing.  
      • Horn, Bone and Wooden jewellery allows body fluids to stick causing damage or irritation unless used in healed stretches and cleaned regularly.
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Stuck Jewellery. If you use double flared jewellery and do not remove it regularly the piercing is likely to tighten around the thinner, internal, tube and become stuck.

      • To remedy this try to loosen the fistula by playing with the jewellery and daily massaging.
      • Take a hot shower or salt water soak before trying to remove the jewellery.

Jewellery can also become stuck if dried body fluids have ‘stuck’ the jewellery to the hole.

      • In this case you should salt water soak the piercing thoroughly until the jewellery naturally loosens away, lubricate the piercing with soap and then remove it.

Serious Problems

Embedded Jewellery | Pain and Bleeding | Infection | Hole Thinning | Blow Outs | Torn Piercings

Many of these problems may need medical intervention to safely and properly treat them.

Jewellery embedding in ears. Larger sizes of jewellery (12mm or 1/2″ +) worn at night can cause accidental damage to the piercing. You should try to sleep without your jewellery in (if you are at sizes above 12mm or 1/2″).

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Pain and bleeding: Stretching a piercing should never hurt, particularly on the ear lobes. You can also use the solutions mentioned above to help.

You should also never see blood when you stretch as it is a sign that the piercing has been re-opened and is now similar to a fresh piercing in places.

      • You will need to stop stretching and return to the size you were at before.
      • Leave at least 12 weeks before stretching again.
      • Consider leaving the piercing at this size for 6 months for it to return to full strength.
      • Do daily saline soaks for the first two weeks.
      • You should start daily massages at around 6-8 weeks.
      • A larger size (14mm / 9/16″ +) should consider downsizing to (at least) a size below your current size.

Infection. Infection with stretched piercings is rare Usually if you are just seeing discharge it is either likely to be serous fluid or sebum and not pus.

      • Irritation to the piercing can cause similar symptoms so clean the piercing and change the jewellery or tape first to see if that helps.
      • After this if you have the signs of a piercing infection you should treat the piercing accordingly.
      • If you think you have an infection and have been wearing wooden, horn or bone plugs you should discard them.
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Hole Thinning. Thinning of a piercing hole is a very obvious loss of tissue at a certain point of the hole. It can lead to the piercing snapping.

      • The best way to treat this is to downsize, usually by 2 or 3 sizes.
      • During the downsize you should massage the piercing daily.
      • Some piercings may need to be downsized and re-stretched several times to adequately thicken a thin area.
      • In rare cases there are some piercings who simply reach their size limit and cannot get any thicker.

Blow Outs. A blow out is typically a very large lump of tissue that appears on one side of the piercing, often around the exit hole.

It is caused by accidentally forcing the fistula (or ‘inside’ of the piercing) outside the piercing and is often permanent.

      • A blow out can be treated by downsizing by at least 2 or 3 sizes.
      • Using daily massage will also encourage blood flow and healing
      • Putting your jewellery in ‘backwards’ can help.
      • If, after several months, this hasn’t helped it is likely to need surgery to be removed.
      • Some body modification experts will offer scapelling procedures.

Torn / Snapped Piercings. This usually happens when too much force is used to stretch a weakened or thinning piercing. It can also sometimes occur if a large stretch is caught or pulled. There is no way to fix a torn piercing other than plastic surgery or reconstruction through a body modification expert.

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Shrinking A Piercing

Generally speaking most people find that, if they have stretched correctly, 10mm is the largest they can go before they cannot shrink back.

  • To shrink your piercing you will need to remove the jewellery and keep it out for a long time.
  • Regularly massaging the piercing will help 
  • Otherwise you should leave the piercing alone as much as possible
  • The time that the shrinking takes can vary. It can take a year or more.
  • After stretching above 6mm, the piercing will probably never entirely close.
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Stretched Piercing Help

For further information, try reading our full guide to stretched piercing problems or our guide to piercing stretching. Alternatively you may find our bump guide on blow outs informative.

If you feel you have further questions about a stretched piercing please feel free to contact our clinic team who are experienced body piercers and can offer basic advice. Be aware that none of our team are trained medical professionals so if you are worried you should always seek advice from a nurse or doctor and not rely on us as any form of substitute.

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