How To Treat An Infected Tongue Piercing

How To Treat A Tongue Piercing Infection

With any body piercing in a sensitive area, you want to avoid infection at all costs. An infected tongue piercing specifically requires prompt care and attention. Your tongue is highly vulnerable to infection and other complications compared to other body piercings.

Tongue infections can range in severity. Mild infections may be treated at home with a mouth rinse, some ice and maybe an antibiotic. Other times, it can be extreme and requires immediate medical attention. If your piercing is bleeding or is draining yellow pus, it’s best to give your doctor a visit.

Here’s how to treat an infected tongue piercing:

  • Salt-water rinse
  • Hot compress
  • Ice chips
  • Antibiotics
  • Removing piercing

Symptoms of an Infected Tongue Piercing

Bad Breath

One of the first things you might notice if your piercing becomes infected is an unpleasant taste in your mouth. This, paired with halitosis, can be an immediate alarm for some people. That persistent bad breath might only be a nuisance for you, but it could be an indicator of an infected tongue piercing.

Swelling and Redness

These two symptoms are paired together because they often happen simultaneously. If your piercing is infected — be it a tongue piercing or something else — you’ll have some inflammation and swelling. Take a look at the area surrounding your tongue piercing. Is it a darker color than the rest of your tongue? This dark red color could mean trouble.

When this redness is accompanied by excessive swelling, you shouldn’t leave it to heal on its own. Call your doctor and book an appointment as soon as possible. If you let the infection fester, you could end up with tissue destruction. This could end with surgery and, well, that’s the last thing you want.

What Should I Do With an Infected Tongue Piercing?

The steps you take really depend on how serious the infection has become. If you’ve let it fester for a while without treating it, don’t push your luck — go immediately to a doctor. If left untreated, you could end up with a swollen throat or even have trouble breathing.

Home Remedies for Mild Infections

Sea Salt Solution

If you notice early signs of infection, you should treat it with a homemade rinse:

  1. Grab some warm water — approximately 8 ounces
  2. Mix half a teaspoon of sea salt with the water
  3. Ensure the tongue is rinsed thoroughly in the solution, at least four times per
  4. Repeat until symptoms subside

Alternatively, use a store-bought solution.

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the H2Ocean Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is every single ingredient completely natural, but the spray works brilliantly on all skin types (including sensitive skin), and comes in a generously-sized can. When using it from the very start of the healing process, it appears to decrease healing times and helps to reduce any lingering pain/soreness.

Hydrogen Peroxide

You can also mix a couple of drops of hydrogen peroxide in water and use it as a rinse. This works well with mouthwash as well, just make sure that it’s alcohol-free.

Ice Chips

If you’re experiencing a lot of pain and swelling, either at the top or at the bottom of the piercing, chew on ice chips for some temporary relief. As long as there’s no blood and pus, it should be safe to solely use homemade remedies.

Salt-Water Compress

If you notice bleeding and pus drainage, hold a salt-water compress over your tongue until you see a doctor. 

Oral Antibiotics

If your symptoms don’t lessen in intensity over a day or two, it goes without saying to go to a doctor. An infected oral piercing can have serious complications. This is because your mouth is rich with bacteria. Germs can create small communities called biofilms on the surface of the piercing. These act as highly-resistant shields to mouthwash and antibiotics.

Your mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria, which is why it’s essential to take infections seriously. A visit to your doctor will probably end with an antibiotic prescription, which you’ll most likely have to take for one or two weeks. Follow the instructions for your medication, and be sure to keep the infected tongue free of bacteria.

Good Oral Hygiene is Key

Using a salt-water or hydrogen peroxide rinse along with antibiotics is definitely a good idea. They’ll help keep the bacteria on the surface of your tongue at bay. Good oral hygiene during the healing process can’t be overemphasized. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush. Brushing after eating ensures that any tiny food particles are removed — these can potentially exacerbate the infection.

To Remove or Not to Remove?

You’ve invested a good amount of time and effort into this piercing, and removing it is likely a last resort for you. Most physicians, however, recommend that all jewelry — whether it’s made of stainless steel or plastic — be removed.

You might hear some experienced body piercers disagree with this measure. The facts are, however, that an infected piercing needs to remain open for the bacteria and pus to be completely removed. If you leave the piercing in, the infection can become trapped inside a pierced tongue that heals over. This can cause severe damage to the oral tissues.

If the infection keeps getting worse, have the piercing removed. It’s not worth the risk at all.

Be Mindful of Your Eating Habits

Watching what you eat and drink is just as important as maintaining good oral hygiene. As your piercing recovers from the infection, it’s crucial that you eat soft food that won’t get stuck in your jewelry. Try these for size:

  • Pudding
  • Ice cream
  • Soup
  • Bananas
  • Mashed potatoes

The point here is to keep chewing at a minimum. If you do eat something chewy or crunchy, be sure to rinse with your salt-water solution directly after eating. Eating crunchy foods can be extremely painful and further inflame the affected area. Foods you should avoid, include:

  • Cereal
  • Chips
  • Spicy food
  • Cookies
  • Grains and seeds

These foods can lodge in the wounded area and disrupt the healing process. You should also avoid drinking coffee or alcohol. This is because of their blood-thinning effects. Try to cut back on these drinks until the infection clears.

Be Sensible!

Tongue piercings can become easily infected because your mouth is essentially a breeding ground for bacteria. Maybe you forget to brush your teeth one night, or you haven’t been gargling with salt-water. This all contributes to the build-up of bacteria in your mouth and on the surface of your tongue. Those bacteria can easily enter the open wound of your tongue piercing and cause some severe damage.

If you find that your breath smells unusually bad and there’s uncomfortable swelling and redness, you may have an infection on your hand. It’s essential to treat this by maintaining good oral hygiene for the next few days.

If the symptoms don’t improve within two or three days, head over to your doctor and ask for antibiotics. If the infection keeps getting worse, you should consider removing the piercing altogether. It’s better to be on the safe side. You can always get it re-pierced. 

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