What to Do if the Skin Around Your Piercing Turns Gray
Gray Skin Around Your Piercing
Is there a weird gray skin around your piercing? Here's what this means and what you can do:
- Low-quality jewelry. The cause of the grey skin is most likely low-quality jewelry that you are wearing, which is common. Most affordable body jewelry that you find online or at places like Claire's are made of sterling silver, which is actually only .925% silver. It mostly contains other metals that can irritate the skin. These metals can also cause the area around the piercing to oxidize when the jewelry comes into contact with body fluids (sweat, natural oils on your face, etc.) This oxidization is what causes the gray stain.
- Argyria. Argyria is the proper term for this occurrence. It is a condition caused by improper exposure to silver or silver compounds. It causes the skin to become a gray, bluish-gray, orgrayish-black color.
- Do NOT take out the piercing and let the hole close up. About a year after the site of my cartilage piercing turned gray, I hastily took it out from fear. Then I asked my piercer if there was anything that could be done about the discoloration it left behind. He replied, "Not now there isn't." If I had left it in, on the other hand, steps could have been taken to correct the problem.
What to Do
1. Replace Your Jewelry
Take out the jewelry that is creating the problem and replace it with a ring made of surgical stainless steel.
- 316L or 316LVM are the only acceptable grades (this is the type of jewelry piercers use when you first get a body piercing). 316VLM has a slight advantage due to its practically flawless finish, which decreases the chance of minor alloy inclusions that cause irritation.
- You can order surgical stainless steel jewelry online, or you can go to a nearby tattoo parlor/body piercer and buy it directly from them.
2. Clean Thoroughly
After taking out the bad jewelry, but before putting in the new jewelry, clean the area very thoroughly.
- I like to use basic saline solution, the kind you can get for $4-$5 at any pharmacy.
- If it's a nostril piercing, be sure to saturate a Q-tip with the saline solution and clean the site of the piercing on the inside of your nose as well.
- Once or twice a week, remove the jewelry and clean the site with saline solution again for reinserting the jewelry.
I've been following this regime for about a month and the gray area has shrunk dramatically and nearly disappeared. Hopefully it continues on this track, disappears for good and never comes back!
I was a teenager when I got my cartilage pierced, and I was horrified when the skin around it started turning a grayish color. I thought it was an infection, but cleaning it with hydrogen peroxide or saline solution did absolutely nothing. Although I wasn't crazy about my skin turning weird colors, I had long hair that could easily hide it so I wasn't too worried. Out of sight, out of mind. Then, a few years later, the same thing started happening to my nostril piercing, and that was very definitely not okay. Your face is the first thing you present to the world, and you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I couldn't be walking around with a gray blob on my nose that just seemed to be getting worse and worse.
I did some research and was told that the discoloration of the skin is irreversible without intervention by a dermatologist and the use of some lasers — neither of which I could afford. I refused to accept this fate, so I did some more research. Through a combination of knowledge and improvisation, I was able to get rid of the gray nearly 90% of the way (so far). I hope this article has helped you!