Piercing your body is always going to involve an element of pain—you did, after all, just poke a hole through your body. It’s perfectly normal for your fresh piercing to be red and sore, but at what point should you be concerned that your body piercing has become infected?
Most piercings will heal up without incident, but if it has been a few days and your piercing has become increasingly red and swollen or has started to ooze green or yellow pus, you are probably dealing with an infection. An infected body piercing may also give off excessive heat, cause sharp pain when touched, or ooze a thick, dark or stinky fluid. If you develop fever, body aches, chills, dizziness or nausea, seek medical treatment immediately as these are symptoms of a much more serious systemic illness. If you suspect an infection, DO NOT remove the jewelry from the piercing. That may seem like the logical thing to do, but if you remove the jewelry, the healing process may create an abscess. Leaving the jewelry in the piercing will allow the fluid buildup to drain and heal properly.
Left untreated, an infected body piercing could lead scarring or to more serious systemic infections, which can be life threatening.
A mildly infected body piercing can easily be treated with an antibiotic cleansing routine. More serious infections may require a prescription for antibiotics. If you have reason to be concerned but you don’t think you need immediate medical attention from a doctor, contact your piercer. Most will be more than happy to take a look at your new piercing; they’ll be able to tell you whether or not what you are experiencing is normal and what you can do to care for yourself and stave off infection.