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How to Treat an Infected Piercing: A Guide by Experts!

How to Treat an Infected Piercing: A Guide by Experts! main image How to Treat an Infected Piercing: A Guide by Experts! image

Many of us will know the excitement of having a new body piercing, and the worry when it starts to show signs of infection!

Around 10-30% of piercings in Australia have been reported to result in irritation and infections, so don’t feel bad if you’ve developed one. Knowing what it is and how to cure it can save you a huge amount of stress.

If you’re concerned that your piercing might be infected, don’t panic! As Australia’s largest supplier of body piercing jewellery, we know the best way to care for your piercing. Here’s a handy guide curated by our experts on how to identify, treat, and prevent an infected piercing.

How to tell if your piercing is infected

Is your piercing infected? Don’t wait to get it treated! Your piercing might be infected if you notice any thick discharge or excessive swelling and bleeding. Home remedies like saline solutions and warm compressors may help with minor infections, but major infections require the help of your GP and antibiotics.

What is normal after a piercing?

Before we get into the telltale signs of an infection, let’s take a look at what’s normal in the affected area after your body piercing. Here are the common symptoms you may feel after your piercing:

  • Minor inflammation and tenderness
  • Itchiness
  • Minor redness and bruising
  • Slight blood
  • Pain or soreness
  • Yellow discharge that becomes dry and crusty
  • Peeling or flaky skin

These signs are perfectly normal and should go away after a few days. Healing times vary between individuals and body piercing types, as a belly button piercing can take longer to heal than an ear piercing. So it’s important to stay informed on the estimated healing times for your piercing.  

How to know if your piercing is infected 

Unfortunately, body piercings may get infected because of allergies, poor piercing practices, or insufficient care. So, how do you know if your piercing is infected? Look out for the following signs:

  • The piercing area produces a thick green or creamy discharge
  • Area becomes red
  • Excessive bleeding
  • The piercing area is warm to the touch
  • There’s prolonged swelling, pain, and redness around the area
  • You notice an abscess around the area
  • You feel feverish and unwell

If you notice any of these symptoms, your piercing may be infected, and you should not let it go untreated. Infected piercings can get serious if not treated quickly, so follow these recommendations.

What to do for an infected piercing

Depending on the level of infection, home remedies or antibiotics can be used to treat an infected piercing. 

Saline wash

A saline wash or sea salt soak is a great remedy that can be done at home to clean up a minor infection. To do this:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water
  • Mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt to one cup of warm water in a bowl.
  • Take a cotton ball and soak it in the saltwater solution
  • Dab the cotton ball to the affected area gently
  • Repeat twice a day

It’s recommended that you leave the piercings in during cleaning unless it’s causing an allergic reaction.

Warm compress

If you notice your piercing starting to swell or a bump forming, putting a warm compress over it may help. While the bump itself is only scar tissue and not an infection, a compress helps soothe your skin and minimise discomfort.

Hot compresses open up your blood vessels and improve blood circulation in the affected area. So consider using a cotton pad or gauze soaked in warm water and apply it to the area for a few minutes. For other parts of the body, you can use a hot water bottle (make sure it’s properly cleaned!)

Protect the area

If you’ve pierced less common body parts, it’s important to protect them by minimising activities that put high pressure on the area. This helps the site of the piercing recover quicker and could help reduce the redness or infection. 

Oral piercing

Brush your mouth at least twice a day and stop smoking until the piercing is fully healed. You should also refrain from spicy food, hot drinks, and oral sex to prevent any contamination in the affected area.

Navel piercing

Clean the area twice a day and ensure it’s completely dry. Wet areas can attract bacteria and cause infection. You should also wear loose-fitted clothes to protect against rubbing or pressure.

Nipple piercing

Because nipples naturally protrude from the body, try to wear loose-fitting shirts and be careful wearing bras which can cause pressure to be placed on the piercing. 

Genital piercing

As with navel piercing, keep the area as clean and dry as possible. Refrain from any sexual intercourse during this time to reduce any pressure.

See your GP

If the infection seems persistent or more serious than normal, you shouldn’t hesitate to speak to your local GP. Sometimes, antibiotics or an anti-inflammatory medication might be needed to treat the infection. Your healthcare provider will be the best person to advise on what to do moving forward.

How to prevent piercing infections 

The right piercing care techniques can significantly reduce your risk of infection. Here are some general steps:

  • Do not go swimming 24 hours after your piercing
  • Do not attempt to pierce your body yourself
  • Do not remove the piercing before it fully heals
  • Refrain from touching your piercing, and only do it with clean hands if necessary
  • Keep all piercings as dry as possible
  • Do not pick at any piercing scabs
  • Do not engage in sexual activity that involves an area you have recently had pierced
  • Always look for a reputable piercer that operates in a clean practice. Your piercer should use a new needle for every new piercing and work with clean hands
  • Ensure that your piercing jewellery comes from a reputable source with a wide selection like PierceOff This allows you to get peace of mind knowing that you have selected the right piercing for your body

For more tips on how to care for your piercing, visit PierceOff’s piercing care and information page.

Once your piercing is healthy, consider some incredible jewellery to show it off!

Getting a new piercing can be a very exciting time once you know how to treat and prevent infections. PierceOff is Australia’s largest online piercing store that can offers the best selection of body and facial piercing jewellery

Check out our store and find your new piece of piercing jewellery today!