Cardi's latest body drama, captured on video, happens more often than you'd think.

By Claire Gillespie
July 21, 2020
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Carli B is pretty much an open book on social media, sharing everything from her plastic surgery to her experience with vagina bleaching. Last week, the rapper revealed a new type of body drama: one of her chest piercings was being rejected by her body.

In the graphic video posted on her Instagram stories, 27-year-old Cardi touched the piercing and showed how it was pushing out of her body. This piece of chest jewelry looked like it was hanging off her skin, with just part of it still attached to her chest. “This is how my piercing has been for the past four days, ugh, ow,” she said in the video.

In another video, posted to her Instagram stories later the same day and shared on Twitter, the affected piercing is hidden by a chunky necklace. 

What is piercing rejection, exactly?

What happened to Cardi B's chest piercing is medically known as 'piercing rejection,' and it's more common than you probably think.

“Any time a foreign body, such as a piercing, is introduced into the skin, there will be inflammation,” dermatologist Angelo Landriscina, MD, tells Health. “In the case of piercing rejection, that inflammation actually starts to move the piercing toward the skin surface and can even cause it to perforate out of the skin.” In general, this happens if the body sees the piercing as a foreign object and therefore must "reject" it.

Dr. Landriscina says piercing rejection isn’t well studied, but certain types of piercings seem to be rejected more, such as surface piercings. This type of piercing will have a separate entry and exit point in the surface layer (epidermis) of the skin, like an eyebrow piercing. It may also have a base or “anchor” that sits below the skin surface.

Cardi’s three chest piercings appear to be surface anchors, also known as dermal piercings. The top piercing looks like the head of a screw, while the middle piercing is a dollar sign and the bottom piercing is a sun. The screw is the one that’s being rejected—and it’s also her oldest piercing. The other two were only added last month, and true to form, Cardi shared the experience on Instagram

Piercing rejection symptoms

Dr. Landriscina’s advice for anybody experiencing a piercing rejection is to check with your doctor to confirm that this is actually what’s happening. You may also start to see the piercing migrate toward or above the skin surface, as Cardi noted. If an infection has occurred, you'll have symptoms such as "local swelling, redness, warmth, and excessive discharge," he says. 

Piercing rejection: how to treat

“If one of my patients was having a piercing rejected, I’d tell them to remove the piercing as soon as possible rather than letting it fall out on its own,” he says. “Allowing the inflammation around the piercing to carry on can result in unsightly scarring. 

Once a rejected piercing is completely out of the skin, Dr. Landriscina advises keeping the area clean by washing it with regular soap and water once per day. “Moisture is very important for helping the skin heal efficiently, so applying a thick ointment like petroleum jelly will be helpful,” he adds. “And covering the area with a plain bandage until the holes close is a good idea.” 

Because there doesn’t seem to be any evidence showing that piercing rejection recurs in people who have had it once before, "they can try again after the first piercing heals,” adds Dr. Landriscina.

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