Infection is one of the most common problems with all body piercings. In fact, it’s more than a problem: it can be very dangerous. Most infections occur with new piercings, during the initial piercing time, but they can happen any time. It’s important to remember that even old, well-established piercings can get infected.
Since infections are so dangerous an can not only ruin your piercing but also seriously endanger your health in the matter of days (or even hours), it’s vital to know how to recognize an infection when it happens. The good news is that most infections can be stopped if caught at the early stages.
The first thing you need to know is that some sensitivity, swelling or even painshould be expected during the initial healing period. Even the best-performed procedure will leave your body sensitive. Some people have a fear of piercing pain during procedure, but the truth is that most of the pain occurs after the procedure and during the initial healing time.
During the initial healing time, you can expect your new piercing to be highly sensitive and swollen. There are many normal things you will experience in the first hours and even days after getting the piercing done, such as redness, swelling or pain. Your piercing will be hot to touch (not that you should touch it much!) and the area will probably feel “funny” – chances are that you won’t be able to use this body part fully (for example, your speech will be affected after getting a tongue piercing done).
All of these problems are normal and should be expected during the initial stages of healing. Your piercer should instruct you about all of the things you should expect during this period. Also, you need to know that this is a critical stage for your piercing when infection is the most likely to occur. Therefore, you need to be able to tell a difference between normal sensitivity and infection.
Early Signs of Infection
Early signs of infection often resemble normal sensitivity, but last longer and are more pronounced. Also, they should never occur with older piercings (outside of the initial healing period) so if you ever experience them with your older piercings, you can bet they are a sign of a problem.
Common early signs of infection include:
- Redness. While it’s normal for a new piercing to be reddened a bit right after the procedure, it should pass very quickly. If redness stays or if expands to the surrounding area, it’s a sign of a trouble.
- Swelling. Swelling is a normal reaction you might expect from a new piercings, especially from certain types of piercings (such as tongue piercings). However, swelling should never increase and it should go away in a given time. Always ask your piercer how long should the swelling last to know if you’re in trouble.
- Pain. A new piercing will be somewhat painful, but the pain should never increase or worsen with time. If your new piercing is more and more painful it’s a sign of a problem.
- Piercing is hot to touch. A new piercing will be warm to touch, but it should never be hot. Also, the hotness should never increase over time. If you notice this problem, it is a sign of an infection or another issue.
Other Signs of Infection
If you don’t react to the first signs, the infection will spread. The pain, redness, swelling and other problems will increase, and you will also notice some other symptoms:
- Pus and other discharge. A heavily infected piercing will typically have a discharge, usually pus. Pus may be white, yellow or even green, and it’s a definitive sign of infection. It’s also important to know that foul-smelling pus is a sign of a more serious infection and you should seek medical help immediately.
- Numbness of the surrounding tissue. While the piercing itself will be red and painful you may experience numbness or other problems with the surrounding tissue around the affected body part.
- Fever and chills. An infection that is underway will give you chills and fever. This is a very serious condition and you should seek medical help immediately.
- Nausea. Another worrying sign of an infection that is underway is nausea. It may be a sign of an infection spreading. This is a very alarming sign and you should seek medical help immediately.