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What does an infected lip piercing look like?

    Do you have a lip piercing and think that it might be infected? Well, you should know that infections are prevalent in piercings. For lip piercing, an infection can occur when your piercer does not sterilize the piercing tools before use. You can also have an infection if you keep fiddling with the piercing. So, it is vital to get your piercing from a professional who observes hygiene. Again, you should avoid touching your piercing at all costs to prevent the risk of infection.

    You might have a hard time knowing when your piercing is infected after getting it. Your lip piercing can have a clear fluid discharge, slight bleeding, and soreness(some signs of an infected lip piercing). Anna Balabanova Shannahan, Assistant Professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, highlights how an infected lip looks. According to her, pus, swelling, and increased redness are an issue of concern. They might be a sign that your lip piercing is infected.

    Depending on the severity of the infection, you can choose your treatment method. You can treat minor symptoms by using over-the-counter drugs, for instance, antibiotic creams. The most common antibiotic creams applied on infected piercing are Bacitracin and Neosporin.

    Yet, pharmaceutical drugs are not recommendable. Visit a doctor as soon as you see signs of an infection so you can get a diagnosis first and then get treatment. Seeking medical attention will also save you from other complications with lip infection.

    Here is how you detect an infected piercing, how you can treat and when to seek medical attention

    Causes of an infected lip piercing

    Is my piercing infected? The causes of lip piercing infection vary. For one, the mouth is always moist due to the availability of saliva. Number two, it is surrounded by many opportunistic micro-organisms. Together with poor oral hygiene, the above factors make up the causes of lip infection. There are other causes which include:

    • Use of unsterilized equipment to pierce.
    • Poor handling of studs and rings in the piercing.
    • Not following instructions on how to care for the piercing.
    • Contact between the pierced part and dirty hands
    • Consuming drinks with yeast before the infection heals.

     How do I know if my piercing is infected?

    Over time, lip infection is a common issue in today’s society. Below are the signs of an infected lip:

    • Severe throbbing pain persisting for more than two days.
    • Redness and swelling on the piercing.
    • Difficulties in eating and chewing food.
    • Itching, burning, and irritation around the piercing.
    • Discharge and foul smell around the piercing area.
    • Swells on the neck lymph nodes.
    • Yellow or green-colored discharge from the piercing.
    • Unusual hotness around the piercing or rather the piercing area gives out unusual heat.
    • Unusual nausea and chills reactions after piercing.
    • Fever after the first two days of piercing.

    How do I treat an infected lip piercing?

    After identifying that you might be having the above symptoms, you should immediately start treatment. For instance, you can do the following:

    • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water before attending to the infected piercing?
    • Dissolve ½ teaspoonful of salt in a cup of water to prepare a saline solution.
    • Gently turn the ring to keep it from embedding on your skin.
    • In the saline solution, soak a cotton wool pad and place it on the piercing.
    • After, pat the infected area with a paper towel to dry it.
    • Lastly, apply some antibiotic cream like Neosporin.

    You can stick to these guidelines for about two to three days to try and reduce minor symptoms. However, it is advisable to see a doctor whenever you suspect that your piercing is infected.

    Over the counter medication

    Medications such as pain relievers can help you reduce the severity of the infection. For instance, you can use painkillers like ibuprofen to cut the throbbing pain.

    In situations the infection is severe, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics.

    When your lip piercing gets infected, it is advisable not to remove the lip stud because the hole might end up closing up and trap pus and bacteria inside. Do not try and squeeze the pus out, as you might end up introducing more bacteria.

    How to clean an infected lip piercing

    Previously, we discussed how to heal an infected lip piercing. So, we are going to elaborate on how to clean a piercing to avoid further complications. You can follow these steps:

    Thoroughly wash your hands before attending to the infected piercing to avoid chances of further infection.

    Use an alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash twice a day to clean the area around the infection.

    You can use antibacterial soap and warm water to clean up the piercing from the outer side of the mouth.

    Finally, always make sure your lip stud is always clean to enhance the healing speed of the infection.


    There are several precautions that you can put in place when treating an infected lip piercing. These include:

    • Avoid scratching, removing scabs, and spinning your stud.
    • DO NOT consume spicy food. They cause irritation which might make you pick on the piercing.
    • DO NOT remove your piercing as it helps drain out fluids, thus fastening the healing process.
    • Avoid cigarettes and alcohol as they slow the healing process.
    • DO NOT apply anything to the infected area unless instructed by qualified medical personnel.

    Note: At no time should you remove your jewelry after noticing an infection. Removing it makes the hole close up and trapping in bacteria or pus, which complicates the situation. Before taking such a step, consult a specialist.