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Infection From Body Piercings: Care Instructions


An infected piercing can be serious. The area around your piercing may be painful, swollen, red, and hot. You may see red streaks or pus at the piercing site. You may have a fever or swollen or tender lymph nodes.

It's important to take good care of your infection at home so it doesn't get worse.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Or if your doctor prescribed an antibiotic ointment, apply it as directed.
  • Leave the jewellery in place unless your doctor says to remove it. Soak the area in warm water for 20 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day. If it's too hard to soak the site (for example, if you had your belly button pierced), apply a warm, moist cloth instead.
  • If your doctor told you how to care for your infected piercing, follow your doctor's instructions. If you did not get instructions, follow this general advice:
    • Wash the area with a mild soap and water 2 times a day. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
    • You may cover the area with a thin layer of antibacterial ointment and a non-stick bandage.
    • Replace the bandage as needed.
  • If it isn't better in 5 to 7 days, check with your doctor. You may need antibiotics. Or you may need other medical care to prevent a serious infection.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce pain and swelling. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). Read and follow all instructions on the label.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You lose feeling in the area near the piercing, or it feels numb or tingly.
  • The skin near the piercing turns pale or cool.
  • The pierced area starts to bleed, and blood soaks through the bandage. Oozing small amounts of blood is normal.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your symptoms are getting worse.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.