How To Reduce Piercing Swelling

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 11, 2020
    Last Updated: December 28, 2020

It doesn’t matter whether you’re new to the world of body piercings or a seasoned veteran. When you perforate your body with holes and adorn those holes with jewelry, at some point, there will be swelling.

Of course, some swelling is expected. However, if left unchecked, that swelling can take a turn for the worse, which is why it’s non-negotiable to follow the aftercare instructions provided by your professional piercer. It’s also imperative that you know what to do in the event of excessive swelling and infection.

Minor to moderate piercing swelling can be reduced by taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, holding an ice pack against the area, or gently applying a sea salt solution to the wound a few times a week.

Why Is My Piercing Swelling Up?

There are several reasons why your piercing—brand new or old—is swelling up. The first step you need to take before you can reduce the swelling is to address the issue that caused the swelling in the first place.

Once you know why, you’ll have a better idea of which steps to take to remedy the issue. The following are the primary reasons for swollen piercings:

It’s a Fresh Piercing

It’s perfectly normal to experience some swelling and redness post-piercing. Remember, piercings are an open wound and the swelling is your body’s natural reaction to the damage. 

While the swelling from a fresh piercing usually goes away within a few days, it can last up to a week or more for some. 

It’s Irritated

Obviously, a freshly pierced ear or another body part will be irritated. However, as it’s healing or even if it’s an already healed piercing, it’s still vulnerable to dirt, residues and build-up from various products and the oils from your skin or hair. It is also vulnerable to getting caught in your hair, on your clothes or getting hit accidentally. 

If you notice that your piercing is a little swollen and sensitive to the touch, it could become irritated from collecting one or more of the irritants above.     

It’s Infected

If your piercing is infected, it’ll feel a bit more than irritated. Although, it’s important to note that irritation can be the first sign of an infection, therefore, you’ll want to monitor the piercing site closely if it seems irritated. 

The other symptoms of an infection include:

  • Redness and swelling
  • Mild to acute tenderness and pain
  • The piercing site feels warm or hot to the touch
  • Tears or lacerations
  • Fluid discharge and puss
  • Fever, chills, upset stomach (in extreme cases)

Of course, some of these symptoms, such as redness, swelling, tenderness and fluid discharge, overlap with what’s typical for a new piercing. Nevertheless, there are ways to discern between the two.

For example, if you’re experiencing redness, swelling, and tenderness after a week of having your new piercing, it’s an indication of an infection. Additionally, while it’s normal for new piercings to ooze colorless and odorless discharge, the infectious discharge will be yellow or greenish. It’ll also smell due to the bacteria that are causing the infection.

Infected Tragus Piercing

You Slept on It

Most people don’t realize this, but our heads are pretty heavy. That’s why you’re told to avoid sleeping on a fresh piercing. The weight of your head can cause the piercing to move, which will result in redness, swelling and most likely, a bump. 

It’s Migrating

Sometimes your body says no to piercings. When your body rejects a piercing, it’ll begin to push the piercing jewelry to the surface of your skin, which is also known as migrating. 

From there, your skin will crack open to let the foreign object out. Without a doubt, this causes swelling and irritation, which can lead to infection.

How to Reduce the Swelling

First and foremost, if you’re experiencing the more severe signs of an infection, you need to see a doctor right away. For your run of the mill swelling and irritation, here are a few options you might consider to achieve relief:

  1. Apply an ice pack to the swollen area just until you feel the pain subside
  2. Take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, such as aspirin
  3. Clean your piercing thoroughly with a mild, anti-bacterial and fragrance-free soap
  4. Create a sea salt soak by mixing warm water with sea salt, soaking a cotton ball in the solution and holding it onto your piercing. This will help to draw out any bacteria and flush the wound

Be sure to cleanse your piercing routinely and thoroughly to avoid bacterial infection. It’s also recommended to perform a sea salt soak a few times a week for an extra flush, especially if the piercing is fresh.

Final Thoughts 

Hopefully, the only swelling and discomfort you ever have to experience is the kind that comes with the fresh-piercing territory. Remember to always take proper care of your piercings, even after they’ve healed to avoid any issues with infection or scarring.

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