Without proper aftercare, infection can happen with any piercings. Usually a lip piercing infection is not really serious. However, it usually takes a long time to heal. It’s good to know the possible infection causes to avoid further complications. If the infected area is left untreated, the infection may spread to the other parts of your mouth. Mostly to your gums or teeth. In this post, we’ll discuss about the symptoms of an infected lip piercing and the best treatment options.
No matter how fashionable a lip piercing is, it comes with some pros and cons. Even if it’s done by a professional, there’s always the danger of an infection. However, if the infection happens, it can be treated with simple home remedies and the affected area will heal eventually. The healing time will depend on the area. It can take from six weeks to eight weeks to completely heal.
However, if your pain and discomfort is unbearable, it would be better to consult your professional piercer or talk to your doctor.
What is a Lip Piercing
Lip piercings are gaining popularity and they can be placed anywhere around the mouth. There are different positions for this type of piercings. Each position has particular names.
Monroe piercings are worn on the upper lip. Labret piercings can be pierced off center or in the center with a labret stud. Medusa piercings go trough the center of the upper lip. Usually, the surface of the lip is not typically pierced itself, except for horizontal lip piercings and canine bites. Horizontal lip piercings are not common. These incorporate a horizontal bar on the lower lip which goes through the lip surface.
Lip piercings jewelry is usually a captive bead ring and labret stud. It’s best to use implant-grade titanium, high-grade surgical stainless steel or something alike inert and lightweight metal. It doesn’t really matter what type of jewelry is used, the diameter and the length of the jewelry will be deliberately over sized to allow room for initial swelling. After the area has healed, the jewelry can be replaced with a better-fitting one.
What Causes Infection on the Piercing Area?
There are many possible causes for an infection.
- If you don’t follow the instructions on how to clean the area, it can lead to infection and complications.
- The infection won’t arise the moment you step out of the shop. But it may come up in a few days.
- Viruses, bacteria and other harmful organisms can cause lip piercing infection. The overgrowth of these organisms can lead to a disease, especially if you don’t maintain the area as clean as possible.
- Touching the pierced area using your dirty hands can also cause an infection.
- Drinking of beverages that contain yeast, when healing isn’t completed yet, may lead to an infected piercing.
- If you often pull the ring or studs, it could also lead to infection.
Symptoms of An Infected Lip Piercing
There are several signs and symptoms of a piercing infection that you should be aware of. One of the common symptoms is severe pain that’s persistent for days.
After your lip has been pierced, it’s normal to feel pain. However, if the pain is extreme, it may be a symptom of an infection.
When you experience excruciating pain, watch out for swelling and redness at the pierced site. If the pain is becoming unbearable to chew or eat food, then this could also be a symptom that the site is infected.
Other signs and symptoms will include the following:
- Itching around the area
- Yellow or green discharge
- Swelling of your lymph nodes in your neck
- Chills and nausea
You should never ignore these signs and symptoms. These will help you take the proper steps and ways to treat the infected site.
What to Do If Your Lip Piercing Is Infected?
The first thing that you must do if you noticed that your lip piercing is infected is not to cause further infection by touching it with your fingers or squeezing the discharge. The bacteria in your hands and fingers can worsen the infection and aggravate the situation.
Cleaning the area with warm water and antibacterial soap can improve your condition while it also speeds up the recovery.
Regularly soaking your pierced lip in salt water may also help. You can easily make a home-made saline solution from non-iodized sea salt and hot filtered or distilled water. Or you may use a ready-made saline solution provided by your piercer. It’s usually applied after every meal and before bedtime. If you soak the wound for three to five minutes with a saline solution, it softens any lymph and blood discharge attached to the jewelry. You should do this until the infection has been completely healed.
You can also find solutions containing peroxide from the drugstores. These solutions are also effective for fighting against bacteria that cause lip piercing infection. However, many experts advise against the alcohol, peroxide and tea tree oil since it may irritate the fresh piercing. The ornament should be periodically cleansed to prevent bacterial plaque accumulation. The healing time of the pierced site is approximately 1-3 months. After this time, some scar tissue may develop, but the piercing itself is normally fully emerged and mainly healed.
Easy way to reduce the inflammation and swelling, is to chew or suck on crushed ice. The pain may also subside through this method.
Generally, the infection has become severe if your lymph nodes are starting to swell. If this is the case, consult your doctor. An antibiotic medication will most likely be prescribed.
While waiting for your infected lip piercing to heal, you should make sure that you brush and floss your teeth regularly. Cleaning and rinsing your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash should be also practiced.
When you brush your teeth, make sure that you’re only using soft-bristled brush to avoid aggravating the infected area. Additionally, try eliminating all food particles that may have lodged inside the area. This is to prevent further infections.
Consumption of vitamins is highly recommended to speed up the healing process. Experts also advise to eat yogurt once a day as this food has good bacteria that may help heal the infected area.
You should never smoke and drink alcoholic beverages while waiting for the infection to heal. It’s also not advisable to eat spicy foods as they can cause irritation to the pierced area.
A topical antibiotic treatment isn’t advisable, it can only trap dirt. Healing time may be lengthened because of it. You must only apply it if advised by your physician or piercer.
Avoid manipulating the pierced area no matter how great the impulse is. Prevent yourself from spinning or rotating the ring or stud as it can only prolong the healing process. The reason for this is that spinning with your dirty hands can cause further infection. After playing sports, wash the piercing area.
Is It Okay to Remove the Jewelry?
Generally, it is not recommend to remove the jewelry from the pierced area. It can only lead to abscess and leaving a mark in the pierced area that will not go away. After healing is complete, other jewelry may be used.
However, if it is medically necessary, removal of the jewelry may be allowed. It’s best to talk to your piercer first before going to remove the jewelry.
It’s also necessary to remember to eat a balanced diet. This will enhance your immune function, thereby, easier for your body to fight the infection.
As mentioned earlier, you should never drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes while the area is healing.
Moreover, always use clean bedding, towels and other fabrics that may come in contact with your face. This will help prevent further infection.
What Mouthwash to Use?
Experts usually advise to use an antibacterial mouthwash that is alcohol-free. You can also rinse your mouth with saline solution. Some drugstores have sterile solutions that you can use to speed up the healing time.
If the pierced area continues to have greenish colored pus, then it means that the area is severely infected. This is especially true if it becomes intensely painful as well. If that happens, please see your doctor or piercer right away.
How About Compress?
Hot and cold compress may also reduce swelling. If you use compresses, make sure to use only clean towel to wrap in the ice cubes. Hot compress is more preferred to decrease swelling and avoid further accumulation of blood in the area.
You may also use witch hazel extracts mixed with salt. Apply it on the area and wash it off after 20 minutes.
The cooling properties of turmeric may also be useful in this condition. However, it doesn’t necessarily help reducing or healing the infection. Rather, it’s used to reduce swelling. It also prevents drying out of your lips as the result of ointments that you use to treat the infected area.
Another natural treatment that you can use is aloe vera and paired it with tea tree oil. Apply it on the area once or twice a day.
You can prevent infected lip piercing if you only follow the aftercare instructions of your piercer. However, if the infection arises, you should treat it immediately by following your piercer’s instructions on how to deal with the infection or consult your physician.
Do you have other piercings? Check out our article about infected septum piercing.