Navel piercings are very popular, especially among young girls, teenagers, and young adults. They are generally pretty easy to heal, but that doesn’t mean that they will always heal without complications.
Some people experience infections, and others may experience migration (when the piercing slowly moves from its first location) or even rejection (when the body forces the jewelry out). Although navel piercings typically heal quickly, it is common for them to migrate or reject. Infection, metal allergies, scarring, tearing, and stretching are also common. Some people’s bodies simply cannot heal successfully, no matter what. You just don’t know how your body will react until you give it a try.
The important thing is to make sure that you keep up with proper aftercare and wear proper jewelry, as this will help improve the odds of avoiding complications.
Each of these issues is described fully below.
When a piercing migrates, it doesn’t fully reject out of the body, but it changes from its original position. It may move just a little, or it may move completely away from the navel.
Common causes of migration include:
There’s nothing that you can really do to stop migration, but you can impede it by avoiding the potential causes listed above. If you see signs of migration, you’ll want to remove the jewelry, let it heal, and then try to get re-pierced.
Heavy, thin-gauge jewelry made of the wrong material can cause rejection or migration.
If it continues to migrate, it may actually be rejecting, which is when your body pushes the jewelry out in an attempt to heal itself. Just like the body would force out a splinter, it will force out jewelry, which is a foreign material, and the body doesn’t like foreign objects to be inserted into it.
Some people just can’t heal navel piercings. Some repeatedly try, but each time, it rejects or starts to migrate.Click thumbnail to view full-size
When rejection occurs, you may notice the following signs:
Unfortunately, there’s nothing that can be done to stop rejection. The best thing to do is to just remove the jewelry, let it heal, and try to have it re-pierced again. If you do not remove the jewelry, you will be left with a nice scar. In some cases, the body will completely reject the jewelry and force the barbell out completely.
The good thing is that rejection doesn’t hurt. And no, your piercing doesn’t have to be infected to be migrating or rejecting.
Bacterial infections most often occur soon after the piercing, but can happen any time. It could be the result of poor aftercare, unsanitary conditions, a reaction to the jewelry, or an untended rip or tear.
A thorough cleaning regime and antibiotic treatment will be necessary. If it’s exacerbated by a reaction to the jewelry, you may need to change it out to something made of titanium or implant-grade surgical steel, but it’s best to not remove the jewelry (or to touch or fiddle with the piercing with your fingers, which may be dirty).
Some scarring is unavoidable, since the skin around any piercing rarely heals to look exactly as it did before. The piercing itself is a scar, after all. But sometimes—depending on the location, the person, and other factors—scarring is more dramatic than others.
Hypertrophic scarring is a common risk, and keloid scars can happen to anyone, but those with darker skin pigmentation are more susceptible. Keloid scars look like overgrown red-and-purple mounds of fibrous scar tissue that feel hard and smooth to the touch and can appear at either end of the fistula. They are often itchy and can sometimes be tender and slow to heal.
Many people experience sensitivities or allergies to various metals. Of course, there is some cool, cheap, good-looking jewelry out there, but it’s not worth the risk. A reaction to jewelry can be the thing that triggers an infection which, in turn, triggers rejection or migration and eventually losing the piercing. If you’re just a little allergic, you might experience some itching, redness, and irritation, but a major sensitivity will lead to a painfully itchy, bright red, swollen, throbbing, pus-filled mess. Your skin may pull back from the irritation, causing the piercing hole to gape.
If you think you might be sensitive to the jewelry, immediately take it out and replace it with something more biocompatible.
Wearing a curved barbell (instead of a ring) until you’ve completely healed might reduce the risks.
There are many methods that you may hear about, and methods that work for you may not for someone else. Below is the most common method of aftercare:
You want to do this about twice a day for the first several weeks. After that, once a day until the piercing is healed. You want to avoid using strong products such as rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. Also, try to avoid using any creams or ointments.