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Thread: At my wits end - conch piercing woes

  1. #1
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    Default At my wits end - conch piercing woes

    Hello, goodnight to all. Sharing my story in the hopes of getting some last resort kinda help. Please read through.

    I got my conch pierced late last August [2011] when I was on vacation in Madrid, Spain. I got it done at a piercing parlor, clean and very professional,
    by a very funny Spanish guy who definitely knew his way around a set of needles. It was pierced with a cannula [plastic-tubed] needle, and then the 14ga jewelry was threaded through. It was healing fine for a good while, but I've been struggling with it for nearly a year now.

    I definitely slowed down the healing time by having to change jewelry, balls, etc. several times between last Christmas and the present, and I was swimming a LOT [but only about a month after I pierced it; I train competitively], so I doubt that helped it either.

    But I've been in this constant horrid cycle of "heal", pus, blood, repeat for so long that I'm about to give up completely. Imagine that the piercing is healing normally, like a good little conch. Then a bump begins to swell - tender, a bit sore, begins to cause irritation when jewelry is being cleaned. Then pus [I know this bit is gross, haha] - a pale yellowish-greenish when moist, yellow crust when dry, every morning and evening. Then, after another bit, more swelling, more tenderness to touch and blood [like a "blood boil/blister", for lack of any other words]. This always appears around the piercing site [as in, the jewelry comes from the middle of the boil/the boil is a part of the piercing], mostly at the back of the piercing, from time to time at the front. Then everything clears up, everything is fine, and then the cycle begins again.

    After consulting a local piercer [not very many of those at ALL in the Caribbean, unfortunately], I've tried almost everything in the book - changing the jewelry, anti-bacterial soap, sea salt soaks, normal salt soaks, ice-water soaks, chamomile [once], cold compresses, hot compresses. I usually clean with a q-tip, or lacking those, a cotton ball or a small folded piece of kitchen towel [by this I mean, Bounty or the like]. And it only hurts when the skin very close to the boil or the boil itself is touched, when the piercing is hit [obvi.] or if there's resistance when I'm cleaning the piercing site.

    A few more physical details: I'm black [I've been told repeatedly that this can be a factor in piercing success], an active athlete, and I have fairly good skin [meaning that I don't scar very badly at all].

    So, I'm about to try antibiotics, and if those don't work, I'm thinking of taking it out by the end of 2012. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, y'all. [Pictures available if requested- I'm kind of neurotic about photojournalism].

    - Rosalie

  2. #2
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    Just realised I posted this in the wrong forum. Reposted appropriately under Aftercare, Healing and Safety. Please reply there.

  3. #3
    Senior Member tacosareyummeh's Avatar
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    To be honest, I wouldn't be freaking out just yet. Cartilage piercings can be very difficult to heal and have a healing time of anywhere from 4 months-1 year and a half, a limit you haven't reached quite yet!
    You've said you've tried changing the jewelry, doing soaks, and everything else, but have you tried leaving it alone altogether? It's possible that all the different treatments and trying to find suitable jewelry has caused even more irritation, especially if the jewelry changing was done before it was ready.
    If I were you, I would make sure the jewelry in is the right material and length then completely leave it alone for at least a week. If that doesn't help, do sea salt soaks no more than once or twice a day. If none of that works, try dabbing tea tree oil on the bump, although I warn you that it's fairly harsh and can cause skin reactions.
    Personally, removing the piercing is always a last resort and if I wait it out long enough, my piercings tend to sort themselves out.
    Hope this was helpful!
    Current
    Ears: Left forward and standard helix, left tragus, left daith. Right rook, right double inner conch. 1g and 14g lobes.
    Face: Right nostril, septum, vertical labret.
    Other: Tongue, standard and inverse navel, left and right nipple.


  4. #4
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    I definitely agree that all the fussing has done it more harm than good. I do try to leave it alone, but I end up worrying and cleaning it after a couple of days. I'm fairly confident that the length is fine, and I don't think the material is a problem anymore. I'll definitely give it a valiant go, and see if it seems to be getting better on its lonesome. Yeah, taking out the jewelry wasn't something I was too eager to do, either; it's given me trouble, but I love it to bits. Thanks so much for your quick reply.

  5. #5
    Senior Member kitebunny's Avatar
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    What material do you have in it, and how much slack/wiggle room is there?
    Do you sleep on it?
    Do you rinse it off with clean water after swimming?
    Is there a pattern to the bump/pus/nasty cycle? (ie is it regular?)

    Bumps come from irritation - you need to find and eliminate the source.
    what's a few seconds of pain for a lifetime of shiny?

    Both lobes 1/2", 5mm, 1.6mm
    Left rook & 5mm helix punch
    Right helix x2 & forward helix
    VCH, 5mm tongue

  6. #6
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    I have steel in it, surgical, if I remember correctly. It's pretty wiggly. Not so slack that's it's weighted down, but tight enough to fit fairly snugly.
    I try my best not to sleep on it; if I wake up on that side I turn right over again.
    I do rinse it after swimming, yes.
    And yes, there is a pattern - it's happened enough times for me to notice the order at least.

    Thanks for the reply! I'll try and see if anything in particular seems to be setting it off.

  7. #7
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    The surgical steel may well be the problem, I would change it to a titanium bar.
    Current piercings:
    Left ear: 7 x lobes, right ear: 2 x lobes, auricle, inner conch. Central labret, left nostril, right nostril x 2

    Past piercings:
    Navel, right tragus, 2 x right helix

    Future piercings:
    Right ear: Tragus, triple forward helix

    Considering:
    VCH, tongue frenulum

  8. #8
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    Thanks, Stella. I'll see if I can source one on the island, but if not, I'll have to order it in.

  9. #9

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    Definitely try changing your jewelry to titanium.

    My conch piercing is only a couple months old and I haven't experienced any of the problems you've described. I have titanium in it which may well be the reason. The only time I've had any significant amount of lymph or blood, or a bump was after the ball fell out (I have a CBR in it) and there was a lot of pulling, twisting and bumping to get it back in. The bump also went away very quickly (within a week or so)...

  10. #10
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    Wow, alright. I hope your experience is better than mine, haha, but I'm sure it'll be worth whatever you've been through/go through [or not!] personally.

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