CAUTION: Some of the pictures in the following pages (Problem Piercings) are not pretty/may disturb. They are for educational purposes, as an example ONLY.
Please seek a piercers advice before diagnosing yourself.
Sadly, not all piercings heal smoothly. It's more common than you think and there is a mixture of reasons why this can happen.
First things first:
LEAVE THE JEWELRY IN!
We need to figure out why and what is going wrong before removing the jewelry. There is a high chance it can be cleared up without retiring the piercing. In some cases, removing the jewelry doesn't solve the problem. In fact, if you believe you have an infection, removing the jewelry can make the issue worse.
Even if it is not an infection, removing the jewelry and trying again at another time may not be the best option*. Scar tissue, delayed healing and other issues can happen when re-piercing.
*Please see your piercer first before removing any jewelry. The only reason to abandon a piercing is if it was performed incorrectly. A piercer is best to make this decision.
When seeking advice from a doctor/medical professional, many say to remove the piercing immediately. If you are suspected or diagnosed with an infection, do not remove the jewelry. Some doctors are unfamiliar with piercings, you may need to explain to them that the jewelry or an appropriate substitute must remain in the infected piercing. This is to keep the channel open and enable the wound to drain. Once this is explained to the medical professional, they usually understand.