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Last Update on December 8th 2023 By TPS

Information & Guides

Navigating an Infected Body Piercing: What Beginners Need to Know

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As you embark on your journey into the world of body piercing, it's crucial to be well-informed about the potential challenges, including the possibility of infections. While infections are not common, it's important to know what to do if you suspect your client's piercing is infected. In this guide tailored for beginner body piercers, we'll walk you through the steps to take and the signs to watch for, ensuring that you're equipped to provide the best care and support for your clients.

Causes of Body Piercing Infections

Understanding the primary body piercing infection causes can significantly help in preventing infected piercings. There are various factors that can lead to a piercing infection. Here, we delve into these factors and explore the importance of proper hand hygiene and cross-contamination prevention in avoiding infections:

  1. Improper piercing technique - Ensure you learn and practice the correct techniques

  2. Unsanitary conditions - Ensure your workspace is clean and well-maintained

  3. Inadequate aftercare - Provide your clients with clear instructions for piercing aftercare

  4. Use of low-quality jewelry - Select hypoallergenic materials for the initial jewelry

Improper piercing technique is the most common cause of an infected body piercing. Providing services without knowing or practicing the correct techniques might result in a piercing being performed with incorrectly, which can cause excessive trauma to the pierced area and heighten the infection risk.

Unsanitary conditions can also contribute to an infected piercing. You should always work in a clean, disinfected space. Equipment must be properly sterilized and surfaces sanitized to minimize the risk of infection.

When it comes to inadequate aftercare, providing your customers with clear instructions for piercing aftercare plays a crucial role in the healing process. Inadequate care can lead to contamination and infection, so be sure to diligently follow guidelines and keep the pierced area clean.

The use of low-quality jewelry can increase the chances of infection, too. Jewelry made from materials like nickel, plated brass, or silver are more likely to cause an allergic reaction and hinder the healing process. When getting a new piercing, choose high-quality, hypoallergenic materials such as titanium, niobium, surgical steel, or 14k/18k gold to reduce the risk of an infection.

Lastly, proper hand hygiene is essential in preventing infections. Touching a fresh piercing with dirty hands can transfer bacteria onto the pierced area and cause an infection. Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching or cleaning your piercing.

Recognizing the Signs of Infection

As a beginner body piercer, being able to identify the signs of an infection early on is essential. Keep an eye out for the following indicators:

  1. Increased Pain: While some discomfort is normal during the healing process, persistent or intensifying pain could signal an infection.

  2. Redness and Swelling: Inflammation around the piercing site, along with redness and swelling, might indicate infection.

  3. Heat: If the area around the piercing feels warmer than usual, it could be a sign of your client's body fighting an infection.

  4. Pus or Discharge: The presence of yellow or greenish discharge around the piercing site is a possible indication of infection.

  5. Foul Odor: If your client notices an unpleasant smell coming from the piercing, it could be a sign of infection.

  6. Fever and Chills: Be alert for fever or chills accompanying other symptoms, as they might indicate a more serious infection.​​

Guidance for Addressing an Infection

Should you suspect that a client's piercing is infected, it's crucial to take appropriate steps to manage the situation and prevent complications:

  1. Advise Against Removal: Advise your client not to remove the jewelry. Removing it might trap the infection inside the wound. It's important to advise to seek medical advise if the infection is causing any pain  

  2. Gentle Saline Cleaning: Recommend your client clean the area gently with a saline solution as per your aftercare instructions. Discourage the use of harsh products like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.

  3. Consult a Professional: If the symptoms persist or worsen, encourage your client to consult a medical professional or reach out to you for guidance.

  4. Oral Antibiotics: In certain cases, oral antibiotics might be prescribed by a medical professional to address the infection.

There are times when your clients have taken all precautions but you still end up with an infection. Dealing with a piercing infection requires prompt and proper care to ensure a safe and speedy recovery. However, it's important to note that any suspected infection should be evaluated and treated by a medical professional. Below are suggested treatments for addressing infections in various types of body piercings:

Ear Piercing Infection

  • Saline Solution Soaks: Use a saline solution to gently clean the infected area multiple times a day.

  • Antibiotic Ointment: Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment after cleaning.

  • Hands Off: Avoid touching the earring to prevent further contamination.

  • Medical Attention: If the infection worsens or doesn't improve, seek medical assistance.

Navel or Belly Button Piercing Infection

  • Saline Soaks: Clean the infected area with a saline solution to promote healing.

  • Dry and Loose Clothing: Keep the area dry and wear loose clothing to prevent irritation.

  • Avoid Irritants: Refrain from using harsh cleansers on the piercing.

  • Doctor's Evaluation: If the infection persists, consult a healthcare provider for guidance.

Nose Piercing Infection

  • Saline Solution Rinses: Gently rinse the infected area with a saline solution.

  • Hands Off: Avoid touching the piercing site with dirty hands.

  • Nostril Piercing Care: For nostril piercings, consider using a saline nasal spray.

  • Medical Consultation: If redness, pain, or discharge persists, consult a medical professional.

Eyebrow Piercing Infection

  • Saline Soaks: Clean the infected eyebrow piercing with a saline solution.

  • Be Gentle: Avoid excessive movement or irritation of the piercing.

  • Comfortable Eyewear: Opt for eyewear that doesn't put pressure on the piercing.

  • Avoid Makeup: Refrain from applying makeup near the infected area.

  • Medical Consultation: If the infection persists, seek medical guidance.

Tongue Piercing Infection

  • Saline Solution Gargle: Gargle with a saline solution or alcohol-free mouthwash.

  • Oral Hygiene: Maintain oral hygiene by gently cleaning the piercing site and brushing your teeth.

  • Caution with Oral Activities: Minimize activities that could introduce bacteria to the piercing.

  • Medical Advice: If the infection worsens, seek medical attention for appropriate care.

Nipple Piercing Infection

  • Saline Soaks: Soak the infected nipple piercing in a saline solution to cleanse the area.

  • Keep Dry: Ensure the area remains dry to prevent excess moisture buildup.

  • Comfortable Clothing: Choose breathable fabrics to minimize friction against the piercing.

  • No Irritants: Avoid using harsh soaps or alcohol-based solutions on the piercing.

  • Medical Assessment: If the infection persists, consult a healthcare professional.


Genital Piercing Infection

  • Saline Soaks or Rinses: Gently cleanse the infected genital piercing with a saline solution.

  • Clean Hands: Always wash your hands before touching the piercing.

  • Minimize Sexual Activities: Avoid activities that could introduce bacteria to the piercing site.

  • Loose Clothing: Opt for loose-fitting clothing to prevent irritation.

  • Professional Advice: If redness, swelling, pain, or discharge continues, consult a healthcare provider.


Topical Antibiotics

The first line of defense against an infected piercing is typically the use of over-the-counter topical antibiotics. These ointments help kill the bacteria causing the infection and accelerate the healing process. Some common topical antibiotics include Neosporin, Bacitracin, and Polysporin. It's essential to follow the application instructions on the medication's package and not to cover the area with a bandage, as it needs to breathe for proper healing.


Oral Medications

For more severe infections, a healthcare professional might recommend oral antibiotics. These medications are taken systemically to help fight the infection from the inside out. Depending on the type and severity of the infection, oral antibiotics can be prescribed for anywhere between 7-14 days. It is crucial to complete the entire course of treatment to ensure the infection is successfully treated and doesn't reoccur.

Healing Times for Common Piercing infections

  1. Earlobe Piercing

    • Typical Healing Time: 6 to 8 weeks

    • Piercing infection ear healing time: With proper care, an infection might start improving within a few days to a week. Full resolution may take a couple of weeks.

  2. Cartilage Piercing

    • Typical Healing Time: 3 months to a year

    • Piercing infection cartilage healing time: Improvement can be seen within a week with appropriate care. It might take several weeks for the infection to fully clear.

  3. Navel Belly Button Piercing

    • Typical Healing Time: 6 months to 1 year

    • Piercing infection belly button healing time: A well-managed infection can show improvement within a week or two, but complete healing might take a few weeks.

  4. Nostril Piercing

    • Typical Healing Time: 2 to 4 months

    • Piercing infection nostril healing time: With proper care, an infection might start getting better within a week. It could take a couple of weeks for full recovery.

  5. Lip (Labret) Piercing

    • Typical Healing Time: 2 to 3 months

    • Piercing infection lip healing time: Timely care can lead to improvement within a week. Complete healing after an infection might take up to a few weeks.

  6. Tongue Piercing

    • Typical Healing Time: 4 to 6 weeks for initial healing, up to 6 months for complete healing

    • Piercing infection tongue healing time: With swift and proper care, improvement might be noticeable within a few days. Complete recovery from an infection can take several weeks.

  7. Nipple Piercing

    • Typical Healing Time: 3 to 9 months, sometimes longer

    • Piercing infection nipple healing time: Careful management can lead to noticeable improvement within a week or two. Full healing after an infection might take a few weeks.

  8. Eyebrow Piercing

    • Typical Healing Time: 6 to 8 weeks

    • Piercing infection eyebrow healing time: With appropriate care, improvement might be visible within a week or so. Complete resolution after an infection can take a couple of weeks.

Again, it can't be stressed enough that in all cases, prioritize medical advice and proper aftercare. If you suspect an infection, it's crucial to consult a healthcare professional to ensure appropriate treatment and prevent complications. Regular hygiene, avoiding irritants, and adhering to the aftercare instructions from your piercer can help minimize the risk of infections.

Prioritizing Infection Prevention

Infections often arise due to inadequate aftercare and preventing infections is a top priority for beginner body piercers. Implement these steps to minimize the risk:

  1. Be that 'Reputable Piercer': If you're beginning your piercing career, ensure you're trained and work in a clean, professional environment.

  2. Educate Clients: Provide clear aftercare instructions to your clients and stress the importance of following them diligently.

  3. Caution Against Overcleaning: While proper cleaning is crucial, educate your clients about the potential pitfalls of overcleaning, which can disrupt the healing process.

  4. Jewelry Quality: Recommend high-quality jewelry materials to your clients, minimizing the risk of allergic reactions.


Remember, as a beginner body piercer, you play a pivotal role in ensuring your clients' safety and well-being. By understanding the signs of infection, providing clear aftercare instructions, and being prepared to guide your clients through potential challenges, you're setting a solid foundation for your career in body piercing. Always prioritize open communication, professional guidance, and client care to ensure a positive and safe experience for all.

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