How to Recognize Piercing Infection

Piercing InfectionInfection 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.

Initial Healing

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.

How to Tell if Your Piercing is Infected

Infected PiercingMany people know that they should monitor their piercings closely for any signs of infection, inflammation and other problems. However, not everybody knows what exactly they should be looking for.

While pain and tenderness are usually the first signs you’ll notice, these are not the only ways to tell that there’s something bad going on with your piercing. Keep in mind that infection or inflammation may start even before you can feel pain. This is why it’s so important to observe your piercing regularly to notice any potential early changes. It is particularly important for new piercings during the healing time, but even old, healed piercings can be affected.

Warning Signs

There are several important warning signs you should not ignore. If you notice any of these, it’s a sign that something is going on. It may not be dangerous or too serious, but it’s important to keep an eye on your piercing and to do some measures to remedy the problem. In case the problem persists, you need to consult your doctor.

Here are the usual warning signs that will show that your piercing is infected:

  • Swelling. Swelling is a typical sign of infection. While some swelling is normal on new piercings, it should go away quickly. If the swelling persists, or if your older piercing gets swollen, it’s a sign that something is going on.
  • Redness. Redness of the skin is another sign that infection might be underway. Redness is also a common sign of other common problems, such as allergies. It is important to check your piercing regularly to notice any color changes of the skin around piercing.
  • Itchiness. Itchiness is another common sign of infections and allergic reactions. If it persists, it’s important to address the problem and see what’s going on. In some cases, changing jewelry might help. It’s important to choose body jewelry made of medical-grade, body-safe materials. Avoid jewelry with harmful alloys, such as nickel. For example, if you wish to use gold jewelry, make sure that the gold used is nickel-free.
  • Yellowish fluid. If you notice a bad-smelling fluid coming from the hole, it’s a clear sign of infection. Such infection is well underway so you should seek medical help immediately. You need to treat the infection as soon as possible or it will cause even more harm and endanger your health.
  • Discomfort. General discomfort on the pierced area is usually the first sign that something is going on. You should never ignore it. Check out your piercing if it suddenly feels uncomfortable or if your new piercing fails to ever become comfortable. While it might not happen due to infection, you need to know what is going on.
  • Pain. Pain is another common symptom, and usually the reason why people pay attention to their piercing. Pain is a clear sign that something is not right, so you should consult your doctor immediately. In case of a new piercing, don’t wait too long before you consult your doctor. While a new piercing can be expected to hurt in hours after procedure, the pain should go away quickly (usually within a day). In case the pain persists, consult your doctor. In the case of old, healed piercings, pain is a sign that there is a problem underway. However, you should do your best to catch any sign of infection even before it causes pain. This is the best way to treat the problem as soon as it arises.

Additional Problems

Keep in mind that there may be other problems associated with your piercing. Improper procedures done in unsanitary spaces are more likely to end in infections and they also put you at risk of contracting a disease. This is why it’s important to choose a safe, reliable piercing studio.

Another problem you may encounter are mechanical damages made by jewelry. Jewelry can push against the skin. Oral piercings, such as tongue piercings, may lead to a chipped tooth or gum damage. It is therefore important to make sure that your jewelry is positioned properly.

It is also important to use only high-quality jewelry made of body-friendly materials. Pay attention to jewelry design: is it suitable for your type of piercing? If jewelry is too thin, it can cut through the skin. If it’s too short, it will press your skin and scar tissue may even form on top of it. Also, cheap jewelry can break easily, which is particularly dangerous for nose and oral piercings because jewelry pieces can be inhaled or swallowed on accident.

Piercing and Tattoo Aftercare – Advice You Shouldn’t Ignore

The healing process is the most important process in a body modification. The healing time defines how the end product is going to be accepted into the body, look and feel.  When leaving the shop after getting a tattoo or a body piercing jewelry, instructions are handed out for aftercare. Majority of the clients that receive this aftercare instruction sheet will either not follow it or lose it. Those who do follow and don’t lose the instructions on the aftercare for their new modification have a much greater chance that their new addition to their body will heal correctly without problems.


Prevent Infection & Prolong Lifespan of a Body Modification with proper aftercare


Whether it is a new piercing, a tattoo, or implants keeping the area clean is the most important thing in preventing infection. Most infections are caused by touching the area with dirty unwashed hands. Using antibacterial or antimicrobial liquid soap to wash your hands is best before touching and/or cleaning the area. This type of soap can also be used to clean the modification itself.


Sea Salt is great for healing and cleaning piercings. The reason why it works so well to help clean, reduce redness, swelling, and pain is because it contains many minerals that help activate the body’s natural way of fighting infections and healing wounds. After getting a tattoo or a body jewelry item, it is not recommended to go swimming in any kind of dirty or unclean water source such as a lake, pond, ocean, or chlorinated water until the area is healed.


Heal time for each individual piercing and tattoo is different for each individual person because everyone’s body and immune system is different. When piercings are healing it is normal for there to be a slight discharge. If this discharge dries, it will look like “crusties” around the piercing; to take care of this simply clean the area with Sea Salt and warm water.


However, if this discharge starts looking like pus, which is thick and usually yellow or greenish, it means infection. Most infections can be healed with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor. There is a product out there, also available with us, called H2Ocean that contains Sea Salt and natural antibiotics in a spray form, this makes it easier to clean the piercing and helps it to heal.


You can read more about H2Ocean aftercare products at:


Rotating the body jewelry while cleaning will help the healing process as well. Tattoos heal by scabbing over and peeling. The area where the tattoo is done needs to be kept moist and not allowed to dry out. Letting the tattoo dry out can cause the tattoo to over scab and loose pigment color. Tattoo Goo and Vitamin A&D Ointments are great products to help prevent the tattoo from becoming too dry and over scabbing. Often during the healing process the tattoo can become irritated, red, and/or swollen. Putting warm water compresses over that tattoo with a clean washcloth can help these symptoms.


Both tattoos and body piercings need to be maintained and cleaned very well at least twice a day after the initial shop visit for about two weeks. Listening to the advice of the licensed professional and following the instructions handed out at the shop on the aftercare instruction sheet about your modification will greatly increase your chances that the piercing or tattoo will heal fine and look great.