We received the following anonymous question on Tumblr about a cartilage piercing and the use of tea tree oil:
I have a bump from my cartilage piercing, most likely caused by the fitting of the piercing or the weight of it. I used tea tree oil to treat it but now the skin around my first lobe piercing is peeling off. I know the tea tree oil was to harsh for my skin, but should I just wait it out and see if the skin around my lobe piercing heals or would aquaphor or hydrogen peroxide help?
The best thing to do is leave things alone for a while. Once the skin has become irritated from the tea tree oil, it needs time to calm down. Putting more stuff on your skin/the bump will increases the chances of your skin staying irritated or getting even more irritated. When the skin stays irritated longer, there is also a greater chance the bump will get worse.
If the bump formed because the jewelry wasn’t fitting correctly, then it should start to go away pretty quickly once the jewlery issue is resolved. If the bump doesn’t start to get smaller soon, then it’s likely the bump wasn’t caused by the jewelry.
This is also a good reminder to others that tea tree oil, while commonly touted as a good fix for piercing bumps, is very often too harsh for skin and can create more problems than it solves. We rarely suggest the use of tea tree oil for fixing piercing bumps. In many case, the tea tree oil only treats the symptom and not the problem itself. It’s common that when the tea tree oil is topped, the bump comes back because the actual problem hasn’t been taken care of.