How to Care for an Infected Piercing – Infection Information

How to Care for an Infected Piercing

Some of the most common questions I get asked about piercings are:

“Is my piercing infected?” and “What should I use to treat my infected piercing?”

Well, seeing as so many people experience the problem of an infected piercing, I figured I should write a post for you guys on how to care for an infected piercing.

Anyone who has piercings could benefit from knowing about infection.

That way, if you do ever happen to get an infection on any of your piercings (hopefully you won’t though), at least you will know what to do!

So, why do piercings get infected?

There are a few ways I could answer this question as there is more than one possible cause for an infected piercing.

Let’s go over some of the main ones.

The main causes for an infected piercing are:

  • Ear piercing gun
    Piercing guns can cause infection

    Lack of aftercare in a new piercing. Not cleaning often enough or thoroughly enough

  • Sensitive skin reacting to the jewelry you are wearing. For instance, many people are sensitive to jewelry which contains nickel. Nickel is often found in lower quality jewelry and also in steel.
  • A bit of dirt may have got stuck in between the jewelry and the skin. For oral piercings this could be a bit of food.
  • Getting pierced with a piercing gun.
  • Over-cleaning of a piercing.
  • Infection is more likely if you done the piercing yourself.

As you can see, most of these causes are due to not taking proper care of the piercing or wearing the wrong jewelry. Therefore, infection is easier to prevent than it is to cure.

Prevent piercing infection

Curved Barbell
Wear sterilized titanium jewelry

It is always good practice to take the necessary steps in order to prevent piercing infection.

If your piercing was recently done you should be sure to cleanse it thoroughly twice a day. You could clean your piercing using saline solution (warm salty water) or you could purchase a professional cleansing solution here.

If your piercing is already healed up you should still be cleansing it fairly frequently, say once a week or more if you feel it needs it.

You should also be cleaning your body jewelry whenever you change it. This includes cleaning new jewelry before wearing it.

Another suggestion I would like to make is that you refrain from wearing cheap jewelry. If you have sensitive skin you may even want to avoid wearing stainless steel, as I said it has been known to contain traces of nickel which can cause irritation.

Get yourself some titanium, BioPlast, gold or silver jewelry. You can find a large variety in the jewelry pages on this site.

>> Best Selection of Quality Body Jewelry <<

What are the symptoms of an infected piercing?

When a piercing is healing it is common to experience some soreness, redness and swelling.

If these symptoms do not get any better or worsen this may be a sign that your piercing is getting infected.

Symptoms may vary slightly between different piercings. Each person may also experience the symptoms differently.

Some of the symptoms you should look out for are:

  • Severe swelling with soreness and redness
  • Discharge with a foul smell and/or unusual colour such as grey, yellow, green or brown
  • Fever like symptoms. Nausea and vomiting, chills, headache, dizziness.
  • Piercing radiates heat.
  • Sharp pains whilst touching the area.
  • Excessive non-stop bleeding

If you notice one or more of these symptoms you probably have an infection and should take action immediately.

What to do if your piercing is infected

If you suspect that your piercing has gotten infected, you should not ignore it and expect it to go away. Infections can spread, make you very sick and do long-term damage to your health. They can even be fatal!

I must warn you that you must not remove the jewelry from the infected piercing. This would allow the piercing to close up and cause the skin to heal over the infection – so the infection would be growing under your skin, on the inside of your body. This could turn in to an abscess.

Cleanse your piercing

H2Ocean Aftercare SprayYou should continue cleansing your piercing as you usually would.

Continue dong what you’re doing, just take extra care doing it!

I would recommend you cleanse with saline solution or a professional piercing aftercare solution or spray.

Aftercare procedures vary slightly for different piercings, particularly whilst infected so you may want to look up the specific instructions for the piercing you’ve got. Just remember that what you read online is not medical advice.

Use a warm compress

A cotton pad soaked in warm salty water is your best bet.

Just hold it on the affected area with moderate pressure. This will encourage blood-flow and help fluids drain from the area.

See your piercer

Infection should be taken seriously so you should see your piercer as soon as possible.

If this is not possible or if you pierced yourself, book an appointment with your doctor.

For severe a infection you may be prescribed anti-biotics. For a mild infection you will be given specific instructions on what you should do in order to clear the infection.

You must not put this off – the longer you leave it the worse it could get. You could end up with a nasty scar and a myriad of other nasty side-effects.


If you have the slightest suspicion that your piercing is getting infected, you should be sure to take action straight away.

Assess your symptoms, keep it clean and most importantly go and see your piercer or doctor.

Better still, keep your piercing clean and wear quality jewelry and you may not have to go through any of this.

I hope you have learnt something from reading this article. Let me know your thoughts on this matter by leaving a comment.

Also, help spread the word and make your pierced friends aware of infection in piercings by sharing this post (the share buttons are at the top of the post).

18 Comments on How to Care for an Infected Piercing – Infection Information

  1. A friend of mine recently just let a bunch of his piercings close up for the reason of dealing with minor infections and it just generally annoying him. Perhaps I shall direct him to your site as it looks like some good advice here with ideas for a work around rather than just not having piercings anymore.

    • Hi Chris.

      It’s a shame about your friend’s piercings closing up, he may still be able to save them though! I would be so grateful if you recommend him to my site.

      Thanks a million.

  2. Hi Hannah,

    Great article with very valuable information! It has been a while since I have had any piercings. Infection was always my main concern but I never knew that over cleaning could also cause an infection!

    I remember the piercer going over all the things that can go wrong with a piercing if not looked after and it was pretty scary! I agree do not mess with infection and go back to your piercer 🙂


    • Hey Nichole.

      Over cleaning is not a common cause of infection, but can happen. You would have to be cleaning your piercing an awful lot for the cleaning itself to start having adverse effects. I would recommend cleaning most piercings 2 or 3 times daily.

      Thanks for your input, it pleases me that you find this site useful.


  3. Wow I never knew that stainless steel contains traces of nickel, I’m super allergic to nickel and my nose piercing was getting infected like crazy all the time and it was stainless steel, I ended up taking it out, couldn’t bear the constant infection that was going on. I’m gonna stay way from that then, I had a BioPlast lip piercing and it never got infected, healed real quick and never had any problems with it, so I suppose that should be my material of choice 🙂 Very informative post, thank you Hannah!

    Take Care,

    • Hey Eva.

      There’s only trace amounts of nickel in steel but if you have an allergy it would be enough to trigger a reaction or infection. Stick with BioPlast or titanium from now on and you shouldn’t have any problems.

      Thanks a million for the comment, much appreciated. I’m really glad you found my post helpful.


  4. Another super helpful post! I have one question. I had the upper part of ear pierced about 16 years ago. I would love to wear an earring there but no matter what I put there it gets sore, red, and pains. I don’t think it is an infection because it always goes away after I have removed the earring. It’s almost like the earring is too thick for the hole. Do you know of a earring I could try?

    Thanks Hannah!

    • Hi Melody.

      The earring could be too thick for you, perhaps try a smaller gauge size. You may also want to try wearing a different material of jewelry. BioPlast/BioFlex has a low rate of infection so you may want to give that a try. You can find lots of nice BioPlast/BioFlex jewelry on Amazon or piercing studio. Titanium is also a very safe metal which could be worth trying.

      If you still experience problems after trying this, please let me know and I will try and help you figure out what to do.


  5. I remember when my navel piercing got infected. It was horrible! I think my first problem was that I got it pierced during a summer trip to Toronto with my friends. It was hot and we were walking around a lot. Lots of sweat! Luckily I was able to get it cleared up relatively quickly and it never got infected again. I used some of the methods of treatment you described here and together they worked!
    Very well written and important article. Thanks for writing it!

    • Hi Dara.

      Hot weather and sweat could definitely have caused your piercing to get infected. At least you managed to get it to heal up properly though. Just show how much a little care can go with piercings.

      Thanks for taking your time to read and comment my post.

  6. A great deal of informative material on your site. Thank You for the advice I think I may have suffered these symptoms you described at one point looks like I may be in the clear now. My daughter is thinking (well begging) to get a belly button piercing and I feel as though I can give her a boat load of information now. Thank You

    • No problem Mike.

      Infection is quite common, especially in new piercings. You’re lucky that yours cleared up so easily!

      Please do make sure your daughter visits my site. There is some information on belly button piercings here and here. She will need to read this before getting her piercing.

      Thanks for reading!


  7. Aw damn, a website like this would have been so useful for me back in the day! I used to have them all, eyebrow, tongue, labret, lip, all that. My eyebrow was forever getting infected, and even once got so infected it pushed out through the skin and left a gnarly scar I still wear today. It was so hard getting decent advice back then for this type of thing. Keep up the good work! Your site is great and is gonna save a lot of people a lot of pain and trouble!

    • Hi Matt.

      Sorry to hear about all the problems you had with your piercings. It leave a nasty scar when piercings reject – this is a common problem with eyebrow piercings.

      Thanks for reading.


  8. This is a great article. A couple years ago I really want to put me a piercing but maybe when we are teens we don’t think about the danger or infections. I’m happy that I never put it because I can see that could be very bad for the health. I would really to read something like that a couple years ago, but it’s a great decision if you make it all the cautions.

    • Piercings are awesome to have if they are looked after properly!

      Thanks for reading.


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