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By Meghan O'Neal 03/20/2022

When  you first get pierced, you expect to have some piercing pain. You’ve just had a hole poked into your body; of course, there’s going to be some discomfort.

If you feel pain and discomfort a few weeks after your piercing or even after it’s healed, that’s when you might feel some concern.

While discomfort around your piercing can be disconcerting, it’s not uncommon. Piercing pain can be indicative of a number of things, and not all of them spell the end of your piercing.

Here are some common piercing pain sources and their potential causes.

Note: This article is meant to provide some possible piercing pain causes. If you are experiencing piercing pain, you should visit your piercer. Do not use this article, or any other online resource, as a diagnostic tool.

My daith piercing hurts when I smile

You might not realize it, but your ears actually move a lot during the day. Put your fingers in your ears, then talk and smile. You should feel your ears move up and down a little bit.

Because your ears move when you talk and smile, this may cause some discomfort in a healing daith piercing. The jewelry will move around in the piercing a bit, pressing against the sensitive healing skin. 

If your piercing is fairly new, simply do your best to keep the jewelry still, which means smiling and talking less. Moving the jewelry within the piercing too much is not only uncomfortable, but it can also cause issues like piercing bumps and jewelry rejection. 

If your piercing is older, and you still feel some pain, have a piercer take a look. Your piercing may not be healing properly, or it could be rejecting. (It’s not a bad idea to visit your piercer, regardless, just to ensure that your piercing is healing correctly.)

My piercing hurts after changing the jewelry

After your piercing has fully healed (and your piercer has confirmed that this is the case), you’ll be excited to try out all of the new body jewelry that you’ve been dreaming about.

This dream might become a bit sour if your piercing starts to hurt when you change the jewelry.

Woman Looking at Earrings in Mirror

If your piercing hurts after changing your jewelry, make sure your jewelry fits correctly.

This pain may occur for a number of reasons.

  • You might be allergic to the metal. (Instead, switch to something like titanium, 14k gold, or platinum.)
  • The new jewelry might be too small for your piercing. (Have a piercer check it out.)
  • You may have irritated the piercing site while changing your jewelry. (If you spend quite a bit of time trying to insert the new jewelry, this is a good possibility.)

If the pain doesn’t go away after a few hours, check in with your piercer and have them take a look. If you’re wearing the wrong jewelry, it may cause irritation that will result in the loss of your piercing if it’s not caught in time.

My healed piercing suddenly became swollen, itchy, and painful

If you haven’t changed your jewelry in a while, you know that your piercing hasn’t been snagged, and everything has been okay with your piercing up to this point, you’re certainly right to be concerned if your piercing suddenly starts seeing issues.

Believe it or not, it’s possible to gain an allergy to metal even if you’ve never had one before. (This author was able to wear whatever cheap jewelry she wanted until one day, she wasn’t.) If you start to feel itchiness and irritation around your piercing, and you wear low-quality jewelry, it’s highly likely that you’ve developed a metal allergy.

Try switching out your jewelry for a titanium or 14k gold piece of jewelry instead. If the irritation goes away, then it’s a good sign that you can no longer wear low-quality metals in your piercings.

My piercing hurts, and the skin surrounding it is red and flaky

If your piercing starts to hurt, and the piercing hole looks a bit strange, this is a sign that your piercing is being rejected.

Woman with Septum Piercing and Sweater

If the skin around your piercing becomes red and flaky, don’t just hide it. Have a piercer check it out.

Piercing rejection may occur as the result of recent trauma to the piercing site, but it also may occur on its own. If you start to see signs of piercing rejection, visit your piercer. They will be able to let you know whether your piercing can be saved or if you’ll need to take the piercing out and let it heal. 

Piercing pain in healed piercings is not uncommon, but it’s also not something that should be ignored. If your healed piercing starts to feel pain, visit your piercer. It could be the saving grace for your piercing.

Meghan O'Neal

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