What to Do with An Infected Belly Button Piercing

Symptoms of an infected belly button piercing

When a piercing is new, it’s normal to see some swelling, redness, or discoloration around the site. You may also have some clear discharge that dries and forms a crystal-like crust around the piercing. These symptoms should get better over time.

Two of the most common complications are bacterial infections and allergic reactions.

Bacterial infections arise when bacteria from dirt or foreign objects get into the open piercing while it’s still healing. Remember, piercings are open wounds that need to be kept clean.

Signs of infection include:

  • severe swelling with pain and redness
  • yellow, green, gray, or brown discharge that has an odor
  • red lines that radiate from the piercing site
  • fever, chills, dizziness, upset stomach, or vomiting
  • The piercer is registered with the Association of Professional Piercers (APP).
  • The shop is clean.
  • The piercer uses sterile instruments.

How to tell if you’re allergic to the metal

Allergic reactions happen if you’re allergic to the type of metal being used. For example, piercing jewelry made of nickel is known to cause allergic reactions in susceptible people.

Metals that are safe for body piercings include:

  • surgical steel
  • solid 14-karat or 18-karat gold
  • niobium
  • titanium
  • platinum

Signs of an allergic reaction include:

  • development of an itchy, inflamed rash around the piercing that spreads to a larger area
  • a pierced hole that looks larger than before
  • tenderness that may come and go

1. Keep the piercing hole open

If you suspect an infection, don’t remove the jewelry on your own, unless your doctor tells you to do so. Most piercings don’t need to be removed to treat infections.

Keeping the piercing hole open allows pus to drain. Allowing the hole to close may trap the infection inside of your body, causing an abscess to form.

2. Clean the piercing

Cleaning your piercing is important, both to prevent and treat an infection. Experts recommend cleaning a piercing no more than twice each day.

Use a saltwater mixture (1/2 tsp sea salt per 1 cup of water) to help remove any dried healing secretions. Follow with a mild antibacterial soap and water cleansing. You could also use either one of these cleansing methods alone.

First, remember to wash your hands with antibacterial soap. Then use a cotton swab and your cleaning solution to gently wipe the area around your belly button and the ring. Pat the area dry with a clean towel.

Do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, as these can dry out your skin and irritate the area around the piercing.

3. Use a warm compress

Place a warm compress on the infected piercing. This can help the pus drain and cause the swelling to go down.

Using a wet compress, like a warm washcloth, with your cleaning solution. Place the compress on the piercing. Gently dry the area with a clean towel after using the wet cloth.

4. Apply an antibacterial cream

Consult a dermatologist before using an over-the-counter antibacterial cream, like Neosporin, as there’s a risk for allergic irritation of the skin and reduced airflow to the piercing site, which may increase risk for infection.

When to see your doctor for an infected belly button piercing

Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any significant signs of infection, especially a fever or nausea. Even minor infections can get worse without treatment.

Your doctor may need to prescribe an antibiotic cream like mupirocin (Bactroban). They may also prescribe an oral antibiotic.

Read this next

Your bellybutton may bleed because of infection or other conditions. Learn more about the symptoms, treatment, and outlook.

When you get a new piercing, you’re welcoming a foreign object into your body. Here’s what to do if your body rejects the piercing.

Discover possible causes of belly button discharge, such as infection or surgery. Also learn when you should seek treatment, prevention tips, and more.

Discover possible causes of belly button odor, such as infection. Also learn how to keep it clean, how to treat the odor, and more.

Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiseptic properties. Here are the piercings it’s safe for, how to use it, side effects to…

Thinking about getting a tongue tattoo? Here’s what to know about safety, healing time, and how long they last.

Get the details on stick poke tattoos, including why you may want to skip the DIY versions.

Whether you’re wondering if an eyebrow piercing will remain visible for years or you’re looking for scar prevention tips, we can help.

This guide includes helpful information about Medicare Advantage plans in Oregon such as eligibility rules, enrollment resources, helpful tips, and…

Use this guide to understand Medicare Advantage plans in Oklahoma, eligibility for these plans, enrollment resources, and helpful tips for enrollment.

Read more on: beauty, skin, skin care