Nipple Piercing Rejection: Signs, Causes, Treatments

You’ve made the decision to showcase your style with a nipple piercing, but now something seems to be wrong. Your piercing doesn’t look quite the same as before, and you’re starting to wonder if your body is rejecting it.

Learning about nipple piercing rejections can help you take steps toward preventing this problem or halting its progression.

What Is Nipple Piercing Rejection?

A piercing rejection occurs when the body pushes a piercing toward the surface of the skin and then out of the body. Rejection can happen with any piercing, not just nipples.

Piercing rejections are a process. First, the jewelry will start migrating closer to the surface level. When it finally reaches the top, the skin will open up and release the piercing.

Nipple Piercings Are More Prone to Rejection

In general, piercing rejection isn’t a terribly common problem. However, a nipple piercing is a type of surface piercing, so that can leave them a bit more prone to rejection.

Surface piercings run across a part of the body. For example, think of an eyebrow piercing; it goes into the skin at one point and comes out at another point. Compare that to an ear piercing, which goes all the way through the earlobe. Surface piercings are more likely to experience rejection than non-surface piercings.

Don’t let that idea discourage you, though. As far as surface piercings go, rejection among nipple piercings isn’t as common as it is with some other body parts. A nipple piercing sits under more tissue than, for example, a nape or navel piercing.

Signs of Nipple Piercing Rejection

What does nipple piercing rejection look like? You may notice that the piercing is moving closer to the surface of your skin, the piercing hole changes shape or becomes bigger, the skin becomes rough or scabby and you feel uncomfortable.

1. The Piercing Is Moving Closer to the Surface

When your piercing moves from its original position, it’s called migration. It can be a sign that your body is starting to reject your piercing. You may notice that the jewelry seems looser or sits differently than before. The piercing may be moving closer to the surface of your skin.

Eventually, there might be such a small amount of skin covering the piercing that you can see the jewelry underneath.

2. Piercing Holes Change Shape or Become Bigger

The piercing holes may seem to be moving closer together. The holes may also change shape or become bigger. You may notice a color change, such as redness, as well.

3. The Skin Becomes Rough or Scabby

Sometimes, the skin above the piercing becomes rough or scabby. This irregular skin may flake off and then redevelop in a repeating cycle.

4. You Feel Uncomfortable, Sore, or Itchy

Finally, a piercing rejection may feel uncomfortable. Your nipple might be sore or itchy.

Pros and Cons of Nipple Piercings

Source: Surfs Chicks.

How Soon Will a Nipple Piercing Show Signs of Rejection?

In most cases, nipple piercing rejections happen fairly quickly. The signs may start within a few weeks or months of getting your nipple pierced.

You won’t be entirely in the clear after that. Rejections can happen, often entirely out of the blue, at any point in time.

Why Does Your Nipple Piercing Get Rejected?

Piercing rejections are an immune system reaction. Your immune system senses that the jewelry is a foreign object. It tries to protect you from the invader, so it pushes the piercing out of the body.

In addition, rejections may happen because of:

  • The piercing is too close to the edge of the nipple. This can cause the piercing to migrate out of the nipple and eventually be rejected.
  • Wrong jewelry size: Our body tends to reject smaller foreign objects than bigger ones. The standard gauge size for nipple piercings is 14 gauge (1.6mm).
  • The weight of the jewelry pulling the piercing downward, especially with thin-gauge pieces
  • If the jewelry is not of good quality or is made of materials that your body doesn’t like (such as nickel), it can irritate the piercing and cause inflammation. One of the best materials to choose from is implant-grade titanium. It’s considered biocompatible, which means that your body is unlikely to recognize titanium jewelry as a foreign object.
  • Injuries that cause trauma to the area
  • Pressure due to a poorly performed piercing
  • Stretching caused by playing with or pulling on the jewelry

How to Stop Nipple Piercing Rejection?

If you think that your body may have begun a rejection process, consult a piercing professional.

  • Use a saline solution to gently clean the piercing twice a day. Keep alcohol and harsh cleansers away from your piercing, but do keep the area clean.
  • Try putting in a new piece of jewelry but be careful of risks. Putting in a new piece of jewelry may stop your piercing from migrating. Once you enter the full-on rejection stage, it may be too late to reverse course. The pro may tell you to remove the piercing or risk scarring. If you are advised to stop wearing any piercing jewelry for the time being, then just wait and let the piercing heal. You can re-pierce it when it is fully healed.
  • Try changing to a safer metal. The quality of your jewelry matters tremendously. Your body is more likely to reject plastic or cheap metal jewelry. One of the best materials to choose from is implant-grade titanium. It’s considered biocompatible, which means that your body is unlikely to recognize titanium jewelry as a foreign object.
  • Keep your hands off of your piercings as much as possible. Your hands may transfer germs to the site, and infections increase the likelihood of rejection. Plus, snags, tugs, and twists might also induce the rejection process.
  • Lastly, make sure that your piercing is done by a pro. Piercings that use the wrong jewelry gauge or sit too close to the tip of the nipple are more likely to be rejected.


Can You Re-pierce a Rejected Nipple Piercing?

You can typically re-pierce your nipple after a rejection. Scar tissue may help support the new piercing. However, you’ll need to consult with your piercing pro; not all piercers are willing to work with scar tissue. In any case, be sure to wait at least three months for the area to fully heal.

Can Nipple Piercing Rejection Happen After 6 Years?

Most piercing rejections happen within the first year. However, trauma to the area can cause rejection to happen later. For example, if your piercing gets seriously snagged on something, rejection may be the result, no matter how long your piercing has been in place. Also, some people experience nipple piercing rejection during pregnancy.

Can Your Body Reject a Nipple Piercing After 2 Years?

Unfortunately, you’re never fully out of the woods when it comes to piercing rejection. While early rejections are more common, some people do experience this problem after two years or more of having a nipple piercing.

Read More

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Pros and Cons of Nipple Piercings: Should You Get a Nipple Piercing?

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