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Piercing Migration

Sometimes a piercing moves from its original placement. This is called piercing migration. Learn how to spot it and what to do.
The process of piercing migration occurs when a body piercing moves from its original placement. There are many types of piercing migration as it can occur with any piercing:
  • Nipple Piercing Migration
  • Navel Piercing Migration / Belly Button Piercing Migration
  • Daith Piercing Migration
  • Tragus Piercing Migration
What causes a piercing to migrate?

Migration is caused when the body rejects the foreign object and tries to push it out. It is more likely that piercing migration will occur with surface piercings such as those in the navel, eyebrow, and nape.  Deeper piercings such as those in the ear, nose, and tongue are less likely to be rejected by the body.  With surface piercings, there is a lot less tissue keeping the body jewellery in a place which is why it can cause migration as it is easier for the body to push out the foreign object. 

Migration of surface piercings can actually push the jewellery out of the skin entirely. This is called piercing rejection - you can read more about it, here. When this happens, the likelihood of scarring in the area is very high. Everyone is different and some people's bodies are much more prone to rejecting body jewellery than others, although piercing migration can happen to anyone. If you have experienced migration of one piercing it does not necessarily follow that all your piercings will migrate and vice versa.

Can lobe piercings migrate?

Piercing migration can have more than one cause. For instance, an earlobe piercing can migrate if the jewellery is too heavy or tongue jewellery can migrate when it is constantly played with. If a healed piercing is damaged, the process might cause some piercing migration. In addition, the body may reject the material that the jewellery is made of and try to push it out of the body. 

How do you know if your piercing is migrating?

It may be difficult to determine if a piercing migration is occurring because it is a gradual process. If the piercing is constantly sore and it looks different than it used to, there is a chance it is migrating. The piercing jewellery may appear closer to the surface of the skin or the piercing hole may get bigger. New piercings are more likely to migrate but, in some people, established piercings start to be rejected after already healing.

What to do if your piercing is migrating?

If your piercing is migrating towards the surface of your skin it is important to take action to prevent scarring. Once the migration period has started, the only options are to leave it alone or remove the body jewellery. If the jewellery is removed, piercing migration is stopped and the hole is allowed to close up completely so there may be less scarring. If you are not sure about what to do if your piercing is migrating then talk to your piercer for advice.

How do you stop piercings from migrating?

Some people wish to have another procedure after piercing migrating has been stopped and the area has healed.  If this is the case, it is wise to try body jewellery made out of a different material or one that is smaller so that it is lighter.  Alternatively, the reason may have been that the body rejected the material the jewellery was made of or it could not cope with the size; smaller gauges are more likely to migrate than larger gauge jewellery. Body jewellery should be made of surgical-grade materials to prevent piercing migration from occurring. Make sure to strictly follow aftercare regimes to help stop and reduce the likelihood of piercing migration or rejection.

How long does it take for a piercing to migrate?

Migration can happen very slowly, taking weeks or months. It can be difficult to notice the small changes to your piercing but if you think your piercing is migrating it is important to consult your piercer before the piercing completely rejects as this may lead to scarring. Some piercings will start migrating soon after being pierced whereas some may unexpectedly begin migrating after years of being healed.

Can you fix piercing migration?

Unfortunately, you cannot fix piercing migration once it has begun. You can take preventative measures such as following a strict aftercare regime and not putting pressure on your piercing by avoiding sleeping on it. You cannot stop it from migrating once it has started so it is best to remove the piercing jewellery (visit your piercer to do this), allow the piercing to heal, and get re-pierced if you want to try again. Try different piercing jewellery or choose a different location for your piercing to try a prevent migration from re-occurring.

If you think your piercing is migrating then it is best to talk to one of our piercers who can advise you on the best course of action to reduce scarring. They are likely to recommend taking the piercing out but once it has healed you may be able to get re-pierced. See our article on re-piercing for further information. 

Please Note: Blue Banana piercing information is based on knowledge from our experiences as one of the UK's top piercing studios. All details provided should be read alongside professional advice. Please see our full Piercing Articles Disclaimer, here.