Should I Pop A Cartilage Piercing Bump?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on December 21, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

During the healing process after a cartilage piercing, you may encounter some complications, If you find yourself with a bump on a piercing through your cartilage, this is a common enough occurrence, so there’s no need to worry. However, you do need to do more investigation.

You shouldn’t pop the bump on your cartilage piercing because:

  • Cartilage is more likely to develop a complication from piercings
  • This tissue is also more difficult to heal
  • Popping a bump increases the chances of infection

Popping a Bump Leads to Increased Complication

The short answer to whether you should pop the bump near your cartilage piercing or not is, “no.” You shouldn’t be popping anything, especially something close to a new piercing, regardless of why it developed. 

Popping a sore creates an open wound right next to your piercing, which, technically, is also an open wound. It isn’t a good idea because bacteria may more easily pass between the two. This raises the likelihood of infection. A problem with one sore will likely become a problem with the other. 

It’s best to monitor the bump to make sure it doesn’t increase or worsen and to continue with proper piercing aftercare. 

What Is the Bump on My Cartilage?

Your cartilage is more likely to develop a complication with healing than elsewhere on your ear. That’s because your cartilage is avascular, meaning that there are no blood vessels in the tissue. This lack of blood vessels slows the healing process since it’s your blood that produces the immune cells in response to trauma. The immune response knits the skin back together and heals the wound.

This lack of blood leading to cartilage also means that an infection in the cartilage is more severe than elsewhere on your ear. A serious infection is treated with oral or intravenous antibiotics that are delivered throughout your body via the blood. Because of the lack of vessels in your cartilage, you require more time and higher doses of antibiotics to heal this area. 

This is dangerous because an infection left untreated can spread. If the infection spreads throughout the cartilage, there could be serious repercussions. Deformity to the ear may result, which will likely affect hearing and how you look. 

Make sure you thoroughly wash your hands before you touch your piercing or the area around it. Once you have, does touching the bump feel painful or not? Is it hot to the touch? A bump accompanied by symptoms like pain, tenderness, fever, or nausea is likely infected and requires medical attention. 

Tragus Piercing Bump

Is the Bump Normal or a Problem?

Using these context clues will help you gauge whether this bump is a sign of:

  • Seroma
  • Pustule
  • Pyogenic granuloma 
  • Scarring


As your ear heals, it may leak plasma, blood and other fluids as part of the immune response. These fluids can gather in a bump called a seroma. A seroma is benign and can resolve itself. 

However, a seroma may turn into an abscess, which is essentially what happens if it becomes infected. An abscess is a dangerous complication and needs immediate medical attention. If this happens, you should also experience tenderness, pain, and possibly a fever. 

Both a seroma and an abscess should feel smooth to the touch but not hard. 


The bump on your ear piercing may closely resemble a pimple. This type of bump is called a pustule and is filled with pus. An appearance of this growth is only a cause for alarm if you’re also experiencing other symptoms like swelling, tenderness, and heat. 

Continue to clean your ear piercing well, and don’t try to pop this like you might’ve popped a pimple or two. If it pops on its own, make sure to clean it thoroughly to avoid bacterial spread and apply antibiotic ointment to hasten its healing. 

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.​

Pyogenic Granuloma 

The bump on your cartilage piercing may very well be the result of how you were pierced. In many shopping malls, some stalls use plastic guns for piercing. Piercing guns aren’t recommended for any piercing because it’s impossible to sterilize them completely. 

These piercing guns use a spring to force a sharp earring through your lobe. The pressure is standardized, meaning there’s no means for adjustment to put more or less force behind the piercing. If you received your cartilage piercing with a piercing gun and have a bump, the gun itself may be the source of the deformation. 

Your ear is made of flexible connective tissue, but in comparison to your lobe, the cartilage of your upper ear has more structure to it. Under pressure, that structure can break and shatter. Splintered cartilage as a result of piercing with a gun can result in a bump at the piercing site. 

This type of bump, a typical result of an injury, is benign and called a pyogenic granuloma. Pyogenic granulomas are usually red and have a tendency to bleed easily. 


If your cartilage piercing is healing while it develops a bump, you may have a predisposition to excessive scarring. Both hypertrophic scarring and keloid formation are abnormal growths of fibrous connective tissue as a result of trauma to the body. 

What happens is the fibrous tissue that grows to cover the wound continues to multiply, even after the wound has closed. This results in raised scars of abnormal shapes that are generally flesh-colored and feel quite fleshy as well. 

Hypertrophic scars may fade over time, while keloids require surgical removal. 

Best to Leave the Bump Alone

As you got a piercing to achieve a particular look, it can be disappointing when that aesthetic is ruined by a bump. On top of that, you may feel concerned that this bump is the sign of something more significant to worry about. 

The bump may be a regular part of the healing process, a result of trauma, or excessive scarring. As long as you keep an eye out for signs of infection, try not to overly worry about this growth.

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