Here's Why Your New Piercing Is Bleeding

And how to speed up the healing process.

by Lindsey Rose Black and Carolyn Steber
Originally Published: 
We may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

When you get a new piercing — whether it’s in your lobes, cartilage, nose, or bellybutton — you’ll want to enjoy it, take pics, and show all of your friends. But that thrill can come to a screeching halt if your piercing won’t stop bleeding. Whether you see a drop of blood, a light trickle, or a crusty scab, it will definitely take away from the experience.

That said, some blood isn’t a big deal. In fact, according to Dr. Azadeh Shirazi, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of AziMD, it’s normal for a new piercing to bleed for the first few days. During this time, you’re supposed to follow your piercer's cleaning instructions, so that the area can fully heal.

If you do everything right, the bleeding should stop by the one week mark, but there are a few red flags to watch out for in the meantime. If your piercing bleeds for more than a week and/or you notice puss, heat, redness, or inflammation, that’s typically a sign of infection, says Barry Gresky, the vice president of operations administration and piercing services at Piercing Pagoda.

While you can trust your piercer’s guidance up to a certain point, Gresky says you should contact a physician if any of these issues get worse. You might have to take some meds to clear up the infection, but in more extreme cases, you could need to take your new jewelry out so the area can heal.

Did you just get a piercing? If so, keep reading below for expert-approved ways to stop the bleeding, as well as a few tips for speeding up the healing process.

Why Your New Piercing Is Bleeding

While slight bleeding and scabbing is normal after you get a new piercing, there are a few reasons why your brand new body art might bleed longer than expected.

1. You Got A Nose Ring

Some piercing spots, like your septum, are more likely to bleed because there are a lot of blood vessels located in that part of your body, says Dr. Harshal Ranglani, MD, a practicing clinical and aesthetic dermatologist. If you just got your nostril, septum, or ears done, then you can expect more blood.

2. You Have Contact Dermatitis

A bloody piercing could also be a sign of contact dermatitis, which is caused by extra friction on the skin, says Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. It could also be an allergy to your new jewelry. Symptoms to look out for include inflammation and redness.
You could also be experiencing allergic contact dermatitis, she says, which can cause red, weepy, or scaly skin that just keeps bleeding, no matter what you do. If your new piercing looks bad for days, she recommends seeing a doctor.

3. You Picked At It

However tempting it may be to twist or twirl your new earring, resist the urge and leave it alone. And the same is true when it comes to picking at your skin — even if you get a particularly crusty scab.
Here’s why: As a piercing is healing, it can develop what’s known as excessive granulation tissue, says Garshick. This is made up of blood vessels that are extra susceptible to bleeding, particularly if there’s additional trauma to the area, she says. In other words, keep your fingers far, far away.

4. You Bumped It

It’s so easy to forget that you have a new piercing, and even easier to bump it as you go about your day. You might snag a new helix ring as you brush or shampoo your hair, or scrape a septum ring as you scratch your nose or pull on a sweatshirt.
According to Gresky, even the tiniest bump can make a piercing bleed, thanks to the way it moves within the skin. Nobody’s perfect, but try to keep the area as safe as you can while your piercing heals.

5. You Slept On Your Stomach

The way you sleep can also be an issue, if you aren’t careful. According to Shirazi, stomach and side sleepers tend to have a hard time during the healing process, so keep that in mind if you’ve been wondering why your piercing won’t stop bleeding.
If you tend to sleep on your side, a new ear piercing might press into your pillow and open back up again. And if you sleep on your stomach, it’s possible to accidentally catch an eyebrow or nose piercing on your pillow. You’ll know that the area rubbed if it’s bleeding or crusty when you wake up.

6. You’re On Certain Meds

What you consume also plays a role in the healing process. “Taking medications like blood thinners or aspirin may make you more susceptible to bleeding,” Garshick says, so let your piercer know beforehand if you take these types of medications. That way, they can share a few extra tips to keep things as blood-free as possible.

7. You Forgot To Take Your Vitamins

According to Shirazi, you might notice more redness or bleeding if you’re tired or run down, which is why she says to get plenty of rest, lots of water, and all the right vitamins, especially as your piercings heal. “I recommend multi-vitamins containing zinc and vitamin C to boost your body’s healing abilities.”

8. You Had A Late Night

If you go out for a round of margaritas, don’t be surprised if your piercing is a little more red the following day. According to Garshick, alcohol thins your blood, and that in turn makes it less likely to clot and scab. (Hint: This is also why you should avoid going out for drinks before you get a piercing.)

9. You Forgot To Clean It

Unfortunately, the hard part isn’t over once you leave the piercing studio. While the process of getting a new septum ring might be tough — FYI, Florence Pugh almost fainted while getting hers done — taking care of it afterward is what matters most, especially if you want to prevent bleeding.

If Your Ear Piercing Is Bleeding...

If you just got a new stud in your cartilage, it’s likely that you’ll see a spot of dried blood near the piercing hole as the area heals — and this is particularly true if you accidentally bump it while you sleep, exercise, or change clothes.

Your ears have a lot of veins and a lot of blood blow, but they’re also a common site for certain skin conditions. Along with contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis is another issue that can affect the ear, says Garshick. You’ve likely got a case if your piercing feels itchy or uncomfortable — or if it suddenly starts to bleed.

If you see droplets forming around the new hole, Ranglani suggests grabbing sterile cotton gauze and applying pressure. “You can also pinch the earlobe so you are able to exert pressure from both sides,” she says. “This should slow down the bleeding.”

If Your Bellybutton Piercing Is Bleeding...

While a bellybutton piercing might seem safe and protected under your sweatshirt, it’s actually surprisingly easy to knock into it throughout the day. “If it gets caught on your shirt or rubs up against your pants or pants button, it can lead to irritation, inflammation — and possible bleeding,” says Garshick.


To spare yourself the drama, go ahead and take extra measures to cover up. “It may help to apply a barrier ointment such as Vaseline, Aquaphor, or CeraVe to the skin around the piercing to minimize the chance of irritation and sensitivity,” she tells Bustle. The extra slip can truly work wonders.

It also will help to place a protective bandage over the ring, especially if you’ll be doing something that causes friction, like running, walking, or pedaling furiously in spin class.

If Your Nose Piercing Is Bleeding...

Just like all the various piercing locations on your ears, nose piercings are also prone to bleeding. “The nose consists of many blood vessels, so even a small amount of injury to the skin, or rubbing the area, can potentially lead to bleeding,” Garshick says.

To keep your risk to a minimum, avoid picking or scratching the skin on and in your nose, and don’t absentmindedly twirl your stud or play with your ring, either.

Also, be careful when washing your face, getting dressed, or blowing your nose. You don’t want to re-traumatize your piercing by rubbing too hard.

How To Make Piercings Heal Faster

There are quite a few things you can do to prevent bleeding, while also speeding up the healing process.

1. Leave It Alone

According to Anastasiia Gatsko, a piercer and owner of G Tattoo & Piercing, one of the best things you can do is avoid fiddling with your jewelry, especially for the first two to three weeks. Not touching it will also keep germs away, prevent infection, and help you avoid extra bleeding.

2. Keep It Clean

According to Shirazi, you should clean your piercing with antibacterial soap. Aim for twice a day, every day, for two to three weeks. This will wash away blood and debris and reduce the chance of infection. Your piercer might also have a salt or saline solution that you can buy in the studio.
For another option, a product that contains hypochlorous acid, like SkinSmart Antimicrobial Piercing and Tattoo Aftercare spray, is also a good bet, she adds. “This acid is naturally found in our own bodies, and it’s gentle yet effective at reducing inflammation and preventing infection for new piercings.”

3. Apply A Cold Compress

According to Gatsko, a cooling compress is another go-to way to slow down bleeding, reduce inflammation, and soothe pain. To make one at home, she recommends taking a cotton round and dipping it into a cold sea salt solution. Some piercers recommend a cold gel pack, too. Apply it for up to 15 minutes at a time, but make sure to put some clean gauze between the pack and your piercing.

4. Protect It During The Day

Be careful as you go about your day to ensure you don’t cause any unnecessary traction or pulling. If you’re worried that it will snag, ask your piercer what your particular piercing might need in order to stay safe. Ask about bandages, ointments, and any other supplies you should keep on hand.
Gasko also recommends carrying a mini first aid kit with you that has alcohol wipes and cotton swabs. That way it’ll be easy to gently remove any dried blood.

5. Protect It At Night

If you don’t like the idea of sleeping on your back, treat yourself to an ear piercing pillow with a hole in it, or sleep on your travel neck pillow. With your ear suspended in the middle, it’ll ensure your new earrings won’t rub on your sheets throughout the night.

6. Amp Up Your Self-Care

While it may not seem like a big deal, a new piercing is technically an open wound, and that’s why Shirazi recommends an extra dose of self-care. Think rest, fluids, and good food and vitamins, especially ones that contain zinc and vitamin C to boost your immune system.

7. Wait It Out

In general, piercings can take up to 12 weeks to fully heal, and sometimes even longer depending on the area. The good news, though, is that all the effort will be well worth the wait.

Studies referenced:

Andersen, B. (2018). Prevention of Postoperative Wound Infections. Nature Public Health Emergency Collection.

Field, F.K. (1994). Overview of wound healing in a moist environment. Am J Surg.


Dr. Azadeh Shirazi, board-certified dermatologist, founder of AziMD

Anastasiia Gatsko, tattoo artist, owner of G Tattoo & Piercing

Barry Gresky, VP of operations administration and piercing services at Piercing Pagoda

Dr. Marisa Garshick, board-certified dermatologist

Harshal Ranglani, MD, practicing clinical and aesthetic dermatologist

This article was originally published on