How to Treat Infected Piercings
If one of your piercings looks red or swollen, it may be infected. This wikiHow will give you tips on how to treat infected piercings and how to prevent them from occurring.
Short Video: How to Treat Infected Piercings
To treat an infected piercing, create a saline solution by mixing ⅛ tablespoon (1.77 g) of sea salt with a cup of water, and stirring until it dissolves. Use a clean cotton swab to dab the solution onto your piercing for 20 minutes twice a day until the infection has healed. You can also apply a cold pack to the area to reduce swelling and fight off infection. However, if the infection persists for more than 48 hours, or if you develop a fever, you should see a doctor.For help preventing an infection, keep reading!
Preventing Infected Piercings
Clean the piercing frequently.Using warm water and soap, apply a washcloth to gently wash out your new piercing. Keeping dirt, grime, and bacteria away from the wound should be enough to prevent infection.
- Be sure to clean the piercing after exercise, going outside, cooking, or cleaning.
- Rubbing alcohol, though it kills bacteria, will dry out your skin and potentially cause an infection.
Rinse your piercing with saline solution twice a day.While you could buy saline at the piercing parlor, you can also make it at home with only 2 ingredients. Mix 1/8 tablespoon of non-iodized sea salt into a cup of distilled water and stir until it dissolves. Submerge your piercing in the saltwater, or soak a clean cotton swab in the water and apply it to the piercing for 20 minutes twice a day.
Keep your hands clean.Dirty hands are the number one cause of infection, so always wash your hands before touching or treating your piercing.
Avoid tight clothing around the piercing.If you have a piercing that is constantly rubbing on your clothes, wear looser clothing. This is especially true for navel, genital, nipple, or other body piercings.
Refrain from pools, hot tubs, or the gym for 2-3 days after the piercing.These places are hot-spots of moisture and bacteria that commonly lead to infections. Your piercing is an open wound and it will absorb bacteria much more readily then unbroken skin.
Know that all new piercings become inflamed for several days.Don’t freak out if you see redness or soreness in the first few days after a piercing. This is your body’s normal response to a puncture. Inflammation is common and can be easily treated with an ice-pack and ibuprofen. If the inflammation lasts for more than 3-5 days, however, you may be developing an infection.
Do not remove the jewelry if you are worried about an infection.While it may seem counterintuitive, you should avoid removing the jewelry if you notice signs of active infection, such as pus, since removing the jewelry can cause the piercing to close up and trap the infection inside your body. It's important that the piercing remain open so that it can drain; otherwise, you may develop an abscess or worsen the existing infection.
Treating Infected Piercings
Know the symptoms of an infected piercing.Infections occur most frequently after home piercings or mistakes made during the piercing. If you feel any of the following symptoms, you might have an infected piercing:
- Pain or soreness
- Excessive redness
- Puss, blood, or fluid discharge
Don’t wait to start treatment.Infections can progress rapidly if not cared for, and most infections can be wiped out quickly if they are properly cleaned early and often. Call your piercing parlor with any questions. When in doubt, always clean your piercing with warm water and soap.
Rinse your ear with saline solution.You can buy this simple antiseptic at most piercing parlors, but it is easy to make at home as well. Mix 1/8 tablespoon of non-iodized sea salt into a cup of water and stir until dissolved. Submerge your piercing in the water, or use a clean cotton swab to press it against your ear for 20 minutes twice a day.
Apply an antibiotic to the pierced area.Use over-the-counter creams like polymyxin B sulfate (Polysporin) or bacitracin to fight off bacteria in your infection. Apply the ointment lightly to the wound with a Q-tip or cotton swab twice a day.
- If a skin rash or itching develops, stop using the ointment. The rash may be caused by an allergic reaction.
Apply a cold pack to help reduce swelling or bruising.An ice pack will lower swelling around your piercing, which can help fight off infection. Never apply ice directly to the skin, as this can cause tissue damage. Put a layer of fabric or a cloth towel between the cold pack and the skin.
Visit or call your piercer.They will have advice for you based on the piercing and symptoms. Oftentimes they will repeat the post-piercing cleaning process, which can help quickly eliminate an infection.
- For simple infections, the piercer will likely give you treatment suggestions.
- For serious infections, the piercer should send you to a doctor with detailed instructions about the wound, piercing, and potential solutions.
Go to the doctor for infections lasting more than 48 hours or fever.Your doctor will most likely prescribe something to treat the infection, usually an oral antibiotic. If you see no improvement or your symptoms worsen after treating the infection at home, you should immediately see a doctor. Symptoms to watch out for include:
- Muscle or joint pain
- Nausea or vomiting
QuestionWhat would happen if I use peroxide?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDon't use peroxide. You're trying to heal the piercing. When you use peroxide, you're breaking down the flesh and skin that is trying to grow back and heal after the trauma (piercing).Thanks!
QuestionIf I've had a nipple piercing for over a year that is now red and very painful, what else can I do if I've already been cleaning it with disinfectant and saltwater?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSee your piercer, because they can assist you better than Internet. You should also visit a doctor if you think it might be the beginning of an infection.Thanks!
QuestionMy ear formed some type of extra skin-looking bubble around the pierced area. What is it, and what can I do to treat it?Tah YDCommunity AnswerIt probably is a hypertrophic scarring. It's common in piercings. You may stick to saline soaks twice a day. If your piercing is healed, dilute a small drop of tea tree oil in the soak. If your piercing is fresh, avoid that, since this product is rather harsh.Thanks!
QuestionThis is day 3 of having my nipple pierced, and while I was cleaning one side, it started to bring out pus and blood. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you just got it pierced, blood and a yellow crust/puss is completely normal just for the first two weeks. Wash with warm sea salt water 3 times a day, and wash two times a day for the next couple weeks.Thanks!
QuestionI have a daith ear piercing that is red, swollen, and painful. I got it 5 weeks ago, and it's not healing. What should I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThat likely means your body is rejecting the piercing. It can cause lots of scar tissue and I suggest taking it out right away. At the very least, consult your piercer and/or doctor for their recommendation.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I clean an infected nipple piercing?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerApply warm/hot water mixed with a teaspoon of uniodized salt (kosher salt, sea salt, etc.). You can also use antibacterial soap and a little antibacterial cream to help kill the infection.Thanks!
QuestionCan I take antibiotics to help with my infected nipple piercings?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have an infection.Thanks!
QuestionMy belly piercing is starting to turn red. I got it around a week ago and I've been using hot salt water to clean it What can I do?Tah YDCommunity AnswerAdd 1/8 - 1/4 tsp of non-iodized salt (try sea salt) to 8 oz. of warm water. Clean twice a day at the most as over-cleaning it may irritate your piercing. If it does not show improvement after a day or two, contact your piercer or doctor for advice.Thanks!
QuestionCan I use antibiotic cream on a navel piercing?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf it is infected, yes. Avoid using antibiotic creams if your piercing is not infected. Your body can "get used" to it and in case of a real infection, the cream would end up being ineffective.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I treat my bellybutton piercing with saltwater?Tah YDCommunity AnswerYou can put the water inside a small bottle or shot gloss and press it against your belly.Thanks!
My recently pierced earlobe has a lump inside it and feels tender. Could this be an infection?
My lobe piercing has a crust that hurts my ear and won't come off. My ear is also very warm and painful. What should I do?
How can I tell if my three day old belly button piercing is infected?
If I got a cheek piercing and it is sore, red and crusty and has clear liquid coming out, is it infected or rejecting the piercing?
I had my cheeks pierced, had to take one out, and it closed, so I had to have it redone. It's been 3-4 weeks since it was redone, and it seems fine and then all of a sudden seems to be infected. What should I do to treat this on again off again infected cheek piercing?
- Don't remove jewelry from infected piercings. If you do it then it would heal with the infection still trapped under the skin, making it much harder to treat.
- Do sea salt soaks at least once a day. Any more than twice will dry out your piercing.
- For surface piercings such as a nipple piercing, mix sea salt and hot water in a hot glass and put it on the piercing allowing it to soak in the salt water for 5-10 minutes.
- Always wash your hands before touching the piercing.
- Apply a hot compress for twenty minute intervals to help alleviate swelling and allow the infection to drain.
- Act fast with any infection, as they can spread quickly.
- Even if you are not worried about an infection, cleaning your new piercing often will help the site heal properly.
- You may want to consider only wearing real gold and silver earrings. Any other kinds (surgical steel, etc.) may be the cause of the problem.
- If you have long hair and your ear piercing is infected, try to keep your hair away from the piercing. Your hair can gather bacteria that may cause your infection to get worse, so try to tie your hair back in a way that prevents it from touching the infected piercing.
- Don't take out the piercing.
- See a doctor if you feel extreme pain or a fever, as you will likely need medication to fight off the infection.
- Go to the doctors right away.
Things You'll Need
1 cup of water,
Spray or cleaner your piercer gave to you. Be sure not to over use it.
Sources and Citations
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