The Piercer's Corner - My piercing is infected!...or is it?

My piercing is infected!…or is it?

So many times we have people call the shop freaking out that their “piercing is infected”.  Well, not to be a jerk but, is it really infected? Or is it just irritated?

Let me start off by saying that I spend a decent amount of time with each of my clients to go over piercing aftercare. I go over in detail how to take care of the fresh piercing, the jewelry type, what to expect, what to avoid, etc.  It never fails, one of them will call me and claim “infection” and after a few questions it comes to light that their BFF told them to use Contact solution in lieu of the proper piercing aftercare product or recommended protocol. Did I ever mention using Contact solution as a “go to” product? Hellz no, so don’t use it.  Bottom line: your BFF is not a professional and even though they may look like a walking pin cushion, each person and their experience differs from the next.

So, before you make a bunch of rash decisions on how you are going to “fix” your “infected” piercing lets evaluate the symptoms of infection:

Check for redness. Most of the time a fresh piercing will be a little pink. If the redness does not go away or it becomes darker, there could be a possibility that it’s infected.

Look for swelling. If the area around the piercing is unusually swelled for an extended period of time (more than a few days), there is a good chance it is infected.

Look for any discharge or pus. Pus is the most obvious sign of an infected piercing. White pus tends to indicate a very minor infection, in which case you should simply continue with the normal cleansing process and look for signs of healing. In the case of a more serious infection, pus will either be yellow or green.

  • Your piercing may secrete a clear liquid, which indicates a healing piercing. The clear secretion occurs when the blood goes into the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) and some leaks out into the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system divides the lymph into good and bad (the bad lymph goes into your lymph nodes, and you can feel them when you’re sick).
  • You will recognize this because of its whitish-yellow color and the crust it forms at the openings of the jewelry. Commonly referred to as “crusties”.
  • In this case you should simply continue with your normal cleansing routine, to allow your piercing to keep healing properly.
  • In most cases, liquid secreted from a piercing that is clear is normal, although a thicker, odorous or darker liquid might be cause for concern.

 

Pay attention to the degree of pain. Stinging, aching, or burning a few days after your piercing is normal. After all, you’ve just received a puncture wound. However, if you feel any sharp pains while touching the area, it might be infected. But quit touching it so much! Touching your piercing, especially if you haven’t washed your hands is a no-no and can possibly create infection.

See if the piercing is giving off heat. If the piercing is unusually hot to the touch or gives off heat, it could be infected.

Notice if you have sustained Loss of function. Areas of the body such as the tongue can be slowed down by a piercing and getting an infection in that area would only make it worse. If the part is too painful to move, you possibly could have an infection.

Watch out for Fever/chills/nausea. Fever, sometimes followed up cold chills and nausea, is a definite sign of trouble. You either have a localized infection at the piercing site or a more serious (potentially fatal) systemic infection. Consult a doctor if you have a high and/or persistent fever, chills, or nausea. These are not normal reactions to piercing.

So it turns out you have an infection after all. What do you do now? Call or come by the shop and have me look at it.  Do not take the jewelry out, don’t swap out the jewelry with another that you dug out of your purse or found at the bottom of your jewelry box, don’t put on peroxide, bactine, alcohol, Neosporin or the  other countless over the counter ointments you feel will work. YOU have already done enough damage, let a professional guide you through your options to make it better.

On the other hand, we have clients that will fight to keep the piercing for whatever reason. Risking your health and/or causing permanent disfigurement for the sake of keeping a $40 piercing is ludacris.  If I recommend you take it out, let it go, you can always re-pierce it.

We go to great lengths to combat the start of infection by using high quality jewelry that has been autoclaved prior to use, sterilized tools, cold sterilized room surfaces, etc. We have generally found that its negligence on the clients part that has lead to the infection. Yes! I am pointing my finger at you. Remember: Only you can prevent infection. Heck, we even have our aftercare information on our website in case you lost your aftercare brochure…NO EXCUSES!

Use your head, be smart and don’t be afraid to reach out for legit advice. I am available via email and social media after hours and you can always call the shop and leave a message.  I will promptly return  your call and/or questions, so please, take care of yourselves, listen to the aftercare advice I share and be mature about it so you can have a long lasting, healthy piercing.