A bruise, also known as a contusion, is a common skin injury that results from the rupture of blood vessels beneath the skin's surface. When a person experiences physical trauma to the body, such as a bump, or injury (or a body piercing), it can cause tiny superficial blood vessels, like capillaries and small veins, to break and leak blood into the surrounding tissues. It sounds unsettling, but we’re being factual here and it’s really all ok- so don’t worry!
The blood that accumulates beneath the skin cannot flow freely, so it becomes trapped, giving the bruised area its characteristic appearance. Initially, bruises often appear as red or purplish marks due to the presence of oxygen-rich hemoglobin in the blood. Over time, the body gradually reabsorbs the blood, and the bruise changes color, typically transitioning through shades of blue, green, yellow, and eventually fading away as the blood is metabolized and the damaged tissues heal. It's important to note that the severity and size of a bruise can vary depending on the force of the injury and the individual's skin type and blood vessel structure. Bruises are a natural part of the body's response to minor injuries and usually heal on their own over time.
Body piercing is an invasive procedure, and bruising is a very common side effect. Some people don’t experience any bruising, and some people experience more severe bruising. Rest assured that if you do experience bruising, this is normal and will subside over time.
An inflammatory response is very, very common after being pierced, and tends to come and go for the first few weeks (sometimes the first 1-2 months) after having your piercing done. This is when the body's natural healing response comes into play. Frequency and level of inflammation is different for everyone. After an invasive procedure where physical trauma is experienced in the body (a body piercing for example) inflammation (swelling) occurs, which includes the release of various chemicals and immune cells to help repair the damaged tissue and remove any foreign substances. This process is what causes the area to become swollen, red, and painful.
Inflammation is a protective mechanism by the body's immune system to defend against potential threats, such as bacteria or foreign objects (in this case, body jewelry). This involves an increased flow of blood, white blood cells, and fluids to the affected area, causing swelling. The body sends more blood to the injured or pierced area to deliver essential nutrients, oxygen, and immune cells needed for healing. As part of the inflammatory response, the body may also allow fluids to accumulate in the injured or pierced region. This accumulation helps to isolate and protect the area from potential infection. Swelling can also be a result of the lymphatic system's response to the injury or piercing. The lymphatic system helps drain excess fluids and waste products from tissues- you may hear some Piercer’s refer to these as “crusties”. This is often a clear to light yellow colored discharge that may build up around the area/jewelry. Be sure to
*gently* clean this away, as it can harbor bacteria that can cause issues during healing, and potentially infection.
It's important to remember that some degree of swelling is a normal part of the healing process. However, excessive or prolonged swelling, accompanied by other symptoms like excessive redness, dark or green colored pus, or extreme pain, should be promptly addressed, as it may indicate an issue such as an infection.
Proper aftercare and keeping the pierced area clean and free from irritants can help minimize swelling and support the body's natural healing process. If you have concerns about a specific piercing, it's always best to consult with a professional piercer or a healthcare provider. To help alleviate swelling throughout the duration of the healing process, you can take an anti-inflammatory when needed (if possible). You may also try to ensure the pierced area is elevated consistently, above heart level. We do not advise applying ice directly to the area as this is not sterile/sanitary, considering a piercing is an open wound.