9 Horrifying Stories Of Piercings Gone Wrong

Piercings are nothing new — earrings and nose piercings have reportedly been found from around 5,000 years ago, and it’s believed they were used in ancient African and early European societies. Suffice it to say, there is little doubt that for as long as there have been piercings, there have been mistakes: infected piercing sites or studs and hoops pulled, torn out, or just too big.

Nowadays, navel, septum, and constellation piercings are on top of the trend charts, but with all new piercings, things don’t always go to plan. Ahead, we’ve compiled the most horrifying tales of rings and hoops gone wrong, with the hopes we can all learn something before that next piercing.

Interviews have been edited for clarity and some names have been changed for privacy.

“About a week after getting the second hole in my lobes pierced, I woke up one morning to a terrible earache. While feeling around my ear, I noticed the front of one my new studs was missing and went to pull off the closure on the back. Huge mistake. Huge. I almost passed out in pain and my ear began to bleed like the dickens. My earlobe had swallowed the earring.

“It was definitely one of the most painful experiences of my life (and it should be noted that I’ve been bitten in the face by a dog, undergone quite a few surgeries, and broken a couple of bones in my time). Luckily, my boss had a great dermatologist on speed dial who was ready to see me immediately.

“Turns out, the piercing got infected quite quickly, and the skin started to swell around it until the stud had become embedded in my ear. She had to inject my lobe with lidocaine and cut out the stud. Not fun. But the worst part is that I will never be able to wear my late grandmother’s gold sword earring, which is designed to go in the second hole and out the first.” —Holly, New York, NY

Illustrated by Vero Romero.

“When I was getting my ears pierced for the first time, the gun jammed while the stud was just halfway through my ear lobe. The piercer, let’s call her Suzie Satan, thought she could use tweezers to pull the stud the rest of the way through. There was a whole lot of pinching, tears, and blood until Suzie Satan said ‘Oh, maybe I should just start over.’ Poor 12-year-old me. She just wanted to be cool and stop wearing her mom’s clip-on earrings.” —Jessica, Atlanta, GA

[Edit Note: Many piercers in 2017 do not recommend using a piercing gun for a variety reasons — including malfunctioning machines — so steer clear!]

Illustrated by Vero Romero.

“The worst thing ever happened after I got pierced. My best friend had been drinking, said my belly button piercing looked crooked, and then half ripped it out while trying to straighten it — all before I could stop her. I had to take it out, let it heal, and get it re-pierced several months later.” — Courtney, Tampa, FL

Illustrated by Vero Romero.

“I was getting my tragus pierced for the first time and I was really nervous to begin with. I felt the piercing pinch and then nothing. My body relaxed, thinking it was over. Then, my piercer said ‘Sorry, my hand slipped, I have to do the second half.’ I literally screamed out. My friend, who had been holding my hand, told me she was happy she already had hers — she would never get one after watching what I went through.” —H, California, USA

Illustrated by Vero Romero.

“I was around 8 or 9-years-old, and it was my first time getting my ears pierced. I was terrified. The piercer had everything prepped and ready to go, and she got the first ear done. Then, on the second ear, the piercing gun got stuck and the earring was about halfway through my ear. The piercer freaked out, so 8-year-old me also freaked out.

“She decided to call her manager, who was at a different location of the piercing station in the mall. Before she walked away to call though, she hands 8-year-old me the piercing gun and asks me to ‘hold on to it for just a sec’ while she calls the manager.

“About five minutes later, she comes back and says that the manager asked her and me to come down to the station she was at. So there we were, a piercer and an 8-year-old holding a piercing gun to her ear, parading around the mall! When we got down to the other station, another employee was thankfully able to fix things up.” — Ashley, Florida, USA

Illustrated by Vero Romero.

“I got my cartilage pierced when I was in middle school at this clothing store on a beach boardwalk. I was told to clean it for three days with ocean water. It got super infected. I still have bumps of scar tissue on my ear, 15 years later.” —Vanessa, New York, NY

Illustrated by Vero Romero.

“The nose ring they pierced me with was too large and had to be replaced with a different one. It hurt like hell. On top of that, the piercing developed a keloid. Needless to say, I no longer have a pierced nose.” —Megan, New Jersey

Illustrated by Vero Romero.

“On the advice of a friend, I decided to get a conch piercing as my first cartilage piercing. The piercer was super skilled and well-recommended, and he used a dermal punch to do the deed. It was bloody, but the initial piercing went fine — the healing process did not.

“After assuming my ear was infected, I ended up having to go to a different piercer in my hometown (who was also has a very good reputation) to get the jewelry switched out. Unfortunately, not only did it not help — I ended up getting this weird growth on the back of my ear.

“I had to ditch the piercing altogether, but the keloid stuck around and actually got even bigger. I ended up having minor plastic surgery to get it removed!” —Rey, New York, NY

Illustrated by Vero Romero.

“[My piercer] pierced my left ear crooked, so now I have to put my earring at an angle. Also, they aren’t even.” — Stacey, New York, NY

Illustrated by Vero Romero.

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