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Hypertrophic Scars and Other Cartilage Piercing Bumps

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Healing a piercing for the first time can be scary. Healing piercings always form various bumps and it can be hard to tell which is which. Is your cartilage piercing bump a hypertrophic scar, keloid, or healing bump? More often than not, cartilage bumps are simply healing bumps (irritation bumps). But it can be hard to keep yourself from worrying if maybe your bump will turn out to be more permanent. Here’s what you need to know about the most common type of permanent scar: hypertrophic scars.

What Are Hypertrophic Scars on Cartilage Piercings?

Hypertrophic scars are typically raised red patches of the skin. They appear nearly identical to healing bumps. A hypertrophic scar however, will not be painful the way a healing bump is and it will be much harder. Hypertrophic scars don’t disappear when the piercing heals and irritation stops. Most importantly, hypertrophic scars will not hurt or itch and are merely a cosmetic issue.

What Causes Hypertrophic Scarring on Piercings?

Generally hypertrophic scarring is genetic. Some people are simply more likely to scar than others. However, unlike keloids, you can still develop a hypertrophic scar if you aren’t genetically predisposed. Other causes of hypertrophic scarring includes trauma and chemical irritation. Trauma can occur for any reason that would cause a healing bump: twisting the piercing, changing the jewelry before it’s fully healed, bumping the piercing, and sleeping on it. Chemical irritation can occur if you put anything besides saline solution and water near your piercing, including but not limited to: wet wipes, makeup, and essential oils such as tea tree oil.

How to Flatten Hypertrophic Scars on Piercings

When it comes to scarring, the most important thing to remember is that time is your friend. The color of your scar will naturally fade and the scar itself may actually shrink over time. After your piercing is fully healed, you can seek other solutions for flattening your scar, such as moisturizers. Both your piercer and your doctor may be able to offer a few solutions you can try.

Hypertrophic Scar vs Keloid

It’s very common for people to confuse hypertrophic scarring with keloids. They are both scars that are raised up red areas of the skin. However there are several key differences. Keloids can grow to be extremely large and raised, while hypertrophic scars will not raise over 4mm. Unlike hypertrophic scars, keloids only occur with people who are genetically able to develop them. The trait that allows someone to develop a keloid is extremely uncommon and if you do happen to be someone who can develop keloids, you likely already know. With people who have the ability to develop keloids, they tend to do it with all types of injuries – not just piercings.


Unfortunately hypertrophic scars can be a side effect from piercings. However, by practicing the LITHA method you can mostly avoid their threat. Hypertrophic scars will fade as time goes on and they will never raise more than 4mm from the skin. Keloids, which are the hypertrophic scars’ larger cousin, will only develop on people who are genetically predisposed to grow them. Keep in mind that by simply leaving your piercing alone, you can avoid most bumps and scars.