Why Does My Piercing Keep Migrating?

Although piercings are a cool way of expressing your personality and adding to your collection is the best feeling in the world, piercings have a few drawbacks, especially when they keep migrating.

Your piercing keeps migrating because your body’s immune system is starting to reject it. While service-level piercings are more prone to migrating, other potential reasons include your jewelry’s shape, size, material, skin, genetics, weight gain, and increased stress.

While a migrating piercing is never a great sign and something you can’t afford to ignore, if you want to know how to best take care of it, read on!

What Does It Mean If My Piercing Is Migrating?

The main reason for the migrating piercing is because your body sees it as a threat or a foreign object that needs to be expelled.

So, while you might love your piercing, your body is revolting against it and in the process of rejecting it.

A migrating piercing is one of the early stages of rejection when your body starts pushing it out towards the surface, following which your skin opens to expel the piercing.

However, it’s important to point out that migrating piercings is not common, especially compared to other piercing issues like dermatitis, keloids, and infections.

Furthermore, migrating or rejected piercings are far more likely with flat surface piercings in your belly button, eyebrow, hip, and nape areas. Other deeper piercings in your tongue, nose, or ears are far less prone to migrating or rejection.

Other Piercing Migrating And Rejection Symptoms

Your body is always in self-defense mode, looking for enemies to ward off, like dangerous skin bacteria, airborne diseases, and harmful fungi.

So, when your body finds an “enemy” or a foreign object like jewelry, your immune system kicks into overdrive to speed up your healing process.

However, it’s important to point out that piercings can be rejected or start migrating at any stage ranging from weeks and months to decades.

Furthermore, should you have an infection or bump your old piercing, your immune system can start rejecting it, and it will start to migrate.

Apart from a migrating piercing, other tell-tale signs that your body has rejected the piercing include:

  • A thinning amount of skin tissue in the middle of the entrance and the exit holes (the ideal amount is a quarter of an inch of skin).
  • Alternatively, the entrance and exit piercing holes have started increasing in size.
  • Your piercing jewelry has started to either droop or hang differently
  • Other symptoms include piercing holes that are inflamed, flaky, peeling, or transparent

What Causes A Body To Reject A Piercing?

The answer to that question is rather complicated; however, your skin protects your entire body against harmful microbes. However, when injured, it starts with a complex healing process that starts with inflammation and culminates with scar tissue.

Thus, with surface-level piercings, it is far easier for your body to push out the jewelry than create scar tissue as it would with deeper piercings.

Furthermore, a core aspect of a wound’s healing process is to start contracting and closing the skin up to ward off infection, especially when jewelry has been removed.

While there are no conclusive reasons why piercings are rejected, here are some potential causes:

  • Skin tightness: piercings in taught skin areas like your chest or belly button make it more difficult for your skin to form scar tissue and to heal properly
  • Your genetics: certain people take longer to heal than others
  • Ill-fitting jewelry: that is either the wrong shape or size can start migrating
  • Jewelry material: you might have an allergy to certain materials, thus, switching to titanium might help.
  • Increased weight: obesity or pregnancy may place additional pressure on your skin and piercing.
  • Increased stress: your immune system might kick in during heightened emotional or physical stress.

How To Stop A Piercing From Migrating

While having a migrating piercing is highly annoying, it must be dealt with before it becomes either severely infected or cracks open your skin and create additional scar tissue.

Moreover, if the rejection process is advanced and your body creates excessive scar tissue, it will be even more difficult to get a replacement piercing in that area once it has healed.

So, you need to act; even if your chances of saving your migrating piercing are not great, so here are a few tips and tricks that might turn things around:

  • Remove your jewelry, and replace it with a different sized and shaped piece of jewelry that is made from a material like titanium, a larger plastic bag, or a ring
  • Consult with an experienced piercer who can give you some good advice.
  • Alternatively, remove the piercing, apply a scar tissue prevention oil, and wait for at least a year before you get a replacement piercing.

How To Prevent Future Piercings From Migrating

Before you get your replacement piercing, start researching the most skilled piercers in your area. Check out their online reviews to find the best one, especially if you want another service level piercing prone to migrating.

Most importantly, inform your piercer that you have a history of migrating piercings and ask them about their average piercing rejection rates to gauge whether they are experts in that field.

Here are some helpful pieces of advice and tricks to avoid future piercing migrations:

  • Choose a larger width or gauge compared to your former piercing.
  • Chat with your piercer about the best depth of your piercing, including the size of your jewelry, to speed up your healing process.
  • Clean your piercing thoroughly with mild saline solutions that won’t irritate your skin.
  • Boost your health by sleeping and eating well, and try to avoid stressful situations.


Undoubtedly, having a piercing that keeps on migrating is super frustrating! Regrettably, it’s a sign that your body is busy rejecting the piercing as a foreign object that needs to be expelled.

While you will need to either remove your piercing jewelry and let it heal or replace it, it must be dealt with, especially if you want to add to your stunning collection later.

Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Design and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):


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