Keloids are overgrowths of scar tissue that form at the site of a skin injury, such as a piercing. They are a common side effect of piercings and can be bothersome and occasionally painful. While keloids are more common with ear piercings, they can also occur with other piercings, including belly button piercings.
Keloids and Belly Button Piercings
A keloid from a belly button piercing appears as a raised scar that feels hard and rubbery. It usually appears at the site of the piercing and can extend beyond it. The keloid is shiny, smooth, and round in appearance, and its colors can range from pink to purple to brownish. Keloids occur when the skin grows excess fibrous tissue, often involving an overproduction of collagen.
Identifying a Keloid from Your Belly Button Piercing
It is important to be able to differentiate between a normal piercing healing process and the formation of a keloid. A keloid can take 3 to 12 months to first appear after the initial piercing, and it can take even longer in some cases. Unlike regular scars that are restricted to the original injury site, keloids can spread beyond the initial damaged skin, which makes them distinctly different from other types of scars.
Signs and Symptoms of a Keloid from Belly Button Piercing
Keloid scars often present themselves in a variety of colors, typically appearing red, pink, or purple initially. Over time, these keloid scars tend to darken, a characteristic feature of this skin condition. The texture of these keloids can vary, with some being quite hard and rubbery, akin to an abundance of fibrous tissue beneath the layers of skin. However, not all keloids share this consistency. Some keloids are softer and have a doughy texture, demonstrating the different kinds of keloids that can form.
Causes of Keloids from Belly Button Piercings
There are several factors that contribute to the formation of keloids from belly button piercings.
Individuals with darker skin tones, especially those aged between 10 and 30 years, are more likely to develop keloids. This is also true for those who have a family history of keloid formation, such as a first-degree relative who develops keloids. It may be caused by genetic skin disorders that make certain skin types, particularly dark skin, more prone to the formation of keloids.
Improper Aftercare and Hygiene
Infections in new piercings, including belly button piercings, are quite common and can be a significant factor in keloid formation. These infections can occur if the needle used in the piercing is not sterile, leading to an abundance of bacteria in the wound. This can trigger an overgrowth of scar tissue, resulting in the formation of keloids.
A person’s inability to keep the piercing completely clean can also contribute to the likelihood of keloids. The healing process post-piercing requires diligent aftercare, including the use of gentle solutions like saline or tea tree oil, to prevent bacterial growth and subsequent infections.
Allergic Reactions to Jewelry
Nickel, a common component in many types of jewelry, is often the culprit behind most jewelry allergies. This metal is frequently found in less expensive jewelry, making it a common risk factor for those who go for budget-friendly piercing jewelry.
However, it’s important to note that even gold or silver jewelry, which are generally considered safer options, may contain trace amounts of nickel. This is due to the fact that nickel is often mixed with these precious metals to enhance their strength and durability.
Even these higher-end pieces can potentially trigger an allergic reaction, leading to complications such as keloid formation.
Treating Keloids from Belly Button Piercings
Treatment for keloids includes both non-invasive and invasive methods.
Seeking Professional Help from a Dermatologist or Piercer
The first step in treating a keloid is to seek professional help. A dermatologist or piercer can provide guidance and recommend the most suitable treatment.
Non-Invasive Treatments Like Silicone Sheets or Gels
Non-invasive treatments, such as silicone dressings or self-drying silicone gel, can significantly aid in the management of keloids, particularly those resulting from belly button piercings. These treatments work by applying gentle pressure to the keloid, helping to reduce its size and alter its appearance.
Invasive Treatments Such as Corticosteroid Injections or Surgical Removal
Invasive treatments such as corticosteroid injections or keloid removal surgery can be effective in treating keloids. Corticosteroids can help shrink the keloid, with most people requiring about four injections on average, having one every 3–4 weeks. About 50–80% of keloids shrink after corticosteroid injection.
Preventing Keloids in the Future
There are several steps you can take to prevent the formation of keloids in the future.
Choose a Professional and Experienced Piercer
Choosing a professional and experienced piercer can help prevent complications and reduce the risk of keloid formation.
Follow Proper Aftercare Instructions
Adhering to proper aftercare instructions is a crucial step in preventing infections and reducing the risk of keloid formation, particularly in the case of belly button piercing keloids. These instructions often include cleaning the piercing site with gentle solutions, avoiding creams with lanolin or hydrogen peroxide, which can irritate the skin, and using hypoallergenic jewelry, such as surgical steel, to prevent allergic reactions.
Avoid Excessive Movement or Trauma to the Piercing
Avoiding excessive movement or trauma to the piercing is a crucial step in preventing the formation of keloids, a type of scar tissue that can result from body piercing injuries. This is particularly important in the case of belly button piercing keloids, also known as umbilical keloids, which can form on the abdominal skin following a belly piercing.
Use Hypoallergenic Jewelry
Using hypoallergenic jewelry not only prevents allergic reactions but also plays a crucial role in reducing the risk of keloid formation, ensuring optimal skin health and comfort.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
While keloids from belly button piercings can be a distressing issue, remember that they are manageable and preventable. It’s important to seek professional help if you suspect a keloid is forming. Take proactive steps in your piercing aftercare to prevent their occurrence.
Remember that everyone’s body responds differently to piercings, so what works for one person may not work for another. If you’re in the Miami area and need expert advice or treatment for keloids, consider reaching out to Dr. Gabriel Salloum at the Miami Center for Plastic Surgery by contacting us or calling 305-405-6910. His expertise in keloid management can provide you with the guidance and care you need.