My Lip Piercing is Infected, What Do I Do?


Is my lip piercing infected? How do I tell or what signs should I look for? And in case I actually have an infection, how do I clean, heal, treat or get rid of it quickly?

Body piercings are becoming very popular nowadays. They are fashionable and trendy. However, many people end up with infections which if ignored, could have serious consequences that might include scarring, swellings, pain among others.

Due to its close proximity to your mouth, this type of a piercing is much more prone to infections especially for people who do not keep good oral hygiene.

Furthermore, if you ignore it, the infection can easily spread to other parts of the mouth including gums and teeth. This, therefore, calls for immediate treatment of any signs of infections, irrespective of how small it might appear to be.


The common causes are viruses, bacteria and other germ causing micro-organisms which are commonly found in your mouth if you do not keep proper oral hygiene. You could have an infection inside your mouth or from the outside part. Some of the common causes include the following:

  • Playing, touching or allowing other people touch the pierced site or jewelry with dirty hands
  • Using dirty face napkins
  • Taking foods loaded with yeast such as beer and wine while it has not completely healed
  • Jewelry such as the studs rings and studs being caught or pulled by anything, including food while you are eating
  • Poor hygiene from your piercer

Signs of infections

Among the common signs and symptoms to watch out for include the following:

  • Increase general aching pain that might last longer than two days
  • A swollen, red or pale area around the pierced site technically known as erythema
  • Severe inflammation or even eczema around the site
  • Irritation on the site that is often accompanied by itching and a burning sensation
  • Difficulties in chewing and eating
  • If the infection is serious, you might have discharges that can be foul smelling or have pus that could be yellow in color.
  • Your neck lymph nodes might be swollen.
  • Fever, chills, and soreness
  • The area around the piercing might be crusty

These are not the only signs to watch for. Any abnormality, pain or aching that lasts for over two days should not be ignored. You will notice them as you yawn, laugh or stretch your lips. It is advisable to visit your physician for inspection and diagnosis of the infection.

How to treat them 

Although treating an infected lip piercing is easy, it can take a long time to get healed completely. Being near your mouth, it is certain that this is one area you do not want to be infected since it might make eating cumbersome depending its location on your lip. So how do you treat it or what are some of the good treatment?

A. Use of medication

Once you notice your piercing has an infection, you might want to go for medications which will be mainly over the counter (OTC) antibiotics and pain relievers.

1. Pain relievers

To help reduce the symptoms such as aching and throbbing pain, it is advisable to go for over the counter painkillers such as ibuprofen.

2. Use of antibiotic

The decision to opt for antibiotics will be informed by the cause of the infection i.e. if the cause bacteria.  The actually antibiotic choice will depend on what works well for you since there are so many types of antibiotics to use. Get a prescription before you use any antibiotics. 

B. Home remedies for lip piercing infection

Besides using medication, you could opt for various home remedies to help heal your piercing quickly. There are many at home remedies and we are going to mention just a few common and effective ones which include:

1. Yogurt

Since it has the good bacteria that will “help balance the natural flora in your mouth [], it is advisable to take a cup of yogurt twice daily.

2. Sea Salt

Prepare a sea salt solution and gargle it in your mouth for about 4 times a day. You could also soak your lips the same sea salt solution. However, the solution should not be so strong because it can cause lip dryness (2-3 teaspoons of sea salt in about a half a cup of water should be fine). Alternative, buy a saline solution. 

3. Alcohol-free mouthwashes

If you do not want to prepare a sea salt solution, going for alcohol-free mouthwashes will serve the same purpose.

4. Warm compressions

Dab the area around your pierced site with a clean warm pierce of cloth. To do this, you need to dip the piece of cloth in hot water, get rid of excess water before dabbing the affected part for a few minutes, twice each day.

C. Precaution 

As soon as you notice you have an infection, there are things you are not supposed to do if you are to get healed fast.

  • Leave your piercing alone, do not squeeze it (squeeze pus from it) using your fingers as this will only make things worse.
  • Do not spin or take out an infected lip ring since you might develop abscess as the infection gets trapped in the pierced hole. Furthermore, your jewelry will be important in ensuring the infection drains.
  • Stop drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes to speed up the healing process.
  • Avoid any antibiotic ointments unless advised so by your physician since they often entrench dirt into the pierced site, slowing healing time.
  • Although they might not have a direct effect, spicy foods should be avoided since they can cause irritations.

Note: At times, removing the jewelry might be advised by a doctor depending on the nature and extent of your infection. Ensure you first see a specialist before you make such a decision.

How to clean it 

We have seen the various ways to heal the infection. It is worthwhile to mention something small on how to clean it so as to avoid further spread of the infection and make its healing much faster.  So how do you clean it?

  1. Wash your hands before you touch or begin cleaning your pierced area as this will reduce the chances of getting re-infected.
  2. Using an antibacterial mouthwash that is alcohol-free, clean the area around pierced spot twice a day. This will help it from inside your mouth.
  3. On the outside part of your mouth, you can use warm water and an anti-bacterial soap.
  4. Finally, keep your lip jewelry very clean all the times as this will enhance the healing speed after it has been infected.

More Tips on care

  • Sanitizing and keeping proper mouth hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth as well as rinsing off your mouth at least twice a day. Do not overdo it.
  • While cleaning your mouth, ensure you remove any food particles that might be in or near your pierced hole using a very soft brush to avoid hurting it as its still healing. Avoid perfumes and products that have alcohol.
  • For people whose occupation makes them sweat a lot such as sports, it is advisable to wash it 4-5 times a day.
  • Cleaning your face towel and bedding will help reduce re-infection as these fabrics will often come in contact with the site.

Note: Some of these ways of caring for an infected one can still be important for people caring for a fresh piercing.

When to see a doctor

If there is not improved after trying all we have discussed in this article, you need to see a doctor for further treatment. Do not ignore it.


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