Top of the pageCheck Your Symptoms
Body piercing is very popular. Many areas of the body are used for piercing.
The ears are the most common piercing site. Most of the time, an earlobe piercing heals without any problems. Piercing other areas of the ear usually involves piercing the cartilage that gives the ear shape. Piercing ear cartilage creates a wound that is harder to clean, takes longer to heal, and is more likely to become infected than earlobe piercing.
Other popular sites include the lips, tongue, nose, eyebrow, navel, nipples, and genital area. Each body piercing site has its own normal healing time and its own set of possible problems. Careful aftercare at home can help speed healing of the wound and prevent problems. At first, a body piercing site may be slightly swollen. A small amount of blood or fluid may drain from the site.
Common problems that develop from body piercing include:
If a sterile technique isn't used, there's a chance of spreading diseases, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or tetanus. Blood infections (sepsis) can occur if a sterile technique isn't used.
You can reverse a body piercing fairly easily by removing the jewellery. This allows the hole to close.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Usually found in dirt and soil, tetanus bacteria typically enter the body through a wound. Wounds may include a bite, a cut, a puncture, a burn, a scrape, insect bites, or any injury that may cause broken skin.
You may need a tetanus shot depending on how dirty the wound is and how long it has been since your last shot.
Symptoms of infection may include:
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in adults are:
Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) may include:
A severe reaction can be life-threatening. If you have had a bad allergic reaction to a substance before and are exposed to it again, treat any symptoms as an emergency. Even if the symptoms are mild at first, they may quickly become very severe.
If proper technique and clean instruments are not used, there is a chance of getting an infectious disease when you get a tattoo or body piercing.
Symptoms of an infectious illness may include:
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need emergency care.
Call 911 or other emergency services now.
Sometimes people don't want to call 911. They may think that their symptoms aren't serious or that they can just get someone else to drive them. Or they might be concerned about the cost. But based on your answers, the safest and quickest way for you to get the care you need is to call 911 for medical transport to the hospital.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Careful aftercare of your body piercing can help prevent problems and promote healing. If you received written instructions from the person who did the body piercing, follow those instructions carefully. If you didn't get instructions for care of the piercing site, try using these.
Do this by applying direct pressure to the piercing site.
This can help reduce swelling or bruising. Never apply ice directly to the skin. This can cause tissue damage. Put a layer of fabric or a cloth towel between the cold pack and the skin.
Clean the area 2 times a day with a mild soap and water, gently removing any buildup on the jewellery. Wipe away any moisture around the jewellery.
This will help reduce swelling.
Tight clothing may irritate the piercing site. If irritation develops, it is best to bandage the site. Piercing sites usually will heal well with or without a bandage.
A little bleeding, swelling, or redness is normal after a piercing. As it heals, if you notice new redness in the area, you can treat it with warm compresses and an antibacterial ointment. But if it isn't better in 5 to 7 days, it could be infected.
Symptoms of an infection may include fever and chills, increased pain, swelling, warmth or redness, or pus draining from the area. An infection can be serious.
How fast the wound heals depends on the piercing site. The wound may take 4 to 6 weeks or longer to heal. Some sites may take up to a year to heal fully.
Each body piercing site has its own normal healing time. Common sites usually heal within the time frames listed below. Healing depends on many things. It can depend on how big the piercing is and how thick the tissue is at the site. Your own ability to heal can also affect healing time.
Ear cartilage (curve of ear)
2 to 4 months
2 to 8 months
Face (includes the earlobes, eyebrows, and lips)
6 to 8 weeks
Inside of the mouth or tongue
3 to 6 weeks
6 to 12 months
Genitals (clitoral hood, labia, and penis)
Belly button (navel)
Up to 9 months
A piercing may not heal as fast if it gets infected or irritated or if scar tissue forms. You may need to see your doctor if your piercing does not seem to be healing.
Not all jewellery is appropriate for body piercing. Choose jewellery for body piercing sites that:
Call a doctor if any of the following occur during self-care at home:
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared for your appointment.
Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineH. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency MedicineMartin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2023 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.