What To Do If Your Piercing Gets Infected

Here's how you can still save your piercing even after infection.
PHOTO: istockphoto

In my 23 years of existence, I've never been that scared of needles. Intricate tattoo designs definitely fascinated me, but despite all the amazing art I've seen, the commitment involved in getting a permanent design tattooed on my body was pretty overwhelming to me. My sense of style is also as fickle as the weather, so who's to say that a tattoo would be any different?  

These girls would heat up sewing needles themselves during recess or lunch and pierce each other's ears like it was no big deal. As far as our batch knew, they hurt like hell, but no one got an infection. 

Piercings were a different story, though. I've been interested in getting multiple piercings ever since I saw them on my classmates in high school. Even though they successfully hid these from our strict all-girls school teachers until graduation, news of how risky—and ridiculously badass—they were spread throughout our batch. These girls would heat up sewing needles themselves during recess or lunch and pierce each other's ears like it was no big deal. As far as our batch knew, they hurt like hell, but no one got an infection. Of course, I knew I had to be careful, and decided to be pierced by a professional in a tattoo parlor by the beach.

My piercing would accidentally get tugged around by accident, and I mistakenly thought that it was best not to move it or mind it. Days later, I noticed that a lot of dried blood surrounded my piercing and a tiny amount of pus was starting to emerge.

The needle was sanitized in front of me with alcohol, and my piercer made sure to wear gloves and a mask during the session. I decided to get an upper lobe piercing done, which was a kind of piercing that was definitely less risky than most. I was instructed to wash it regularly with soap, water, and rock salt solution to maintain it. 

To no one's surprise, your girl got a little lazy sometimes with cleaning. I took showers daily, but didn't always soap my ear every time I showered. My piercing would accidentally get tugged around by accident, and I mistakenly thought that it was best not to move it or mind it. Days later, I noticed that a lot of dried blood surrounded my piercing and a tiny amount of pus was starting to emerge. 

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If you find yourself in a similar situation, here is what you should do:

  1. Clean your hands with alcohol and clean your infected piercing with soap, water, and a clean piece of cotton.

    You shouldn't touch your piercing with unclean hands under any circumstances. It's more sensitive to bacteria especially when infected.
  2. Seek help from a licensed doctor or nurse immediately. 

    Luckily, I was able to have my ear checked by an in-house nurse who works in my office's clinic. She cleaned by piercing with Betadine (which contains Povidone-iodine) and gave me petroleum jelly to soothe the wound. My mistake was that I left my piercing alone, and didn't clean it instantly. The nurse told me that while the healing process is going on, piercings should also be moved around regularly by clean hands, so your body gets used to the piercing on your ear.
  3. Follow the cleaning instructions daily, as given by your doctor or nurse. Do not remove your piercing unless it's completely healed.

    Because your piercing is infected, removing your earring would leave it exposed to elements that could make the infection worse. Keeping it in is a way of protecting your wound from further contamination. 
  4. Check to see if your piercing is healed by moving it around with clean hands. If it no longer hurts, you can remove it and change your earring. 

    It wouldn't hurt to go for one last check-up with your doctor or nurse if you have doubts! It's much better to be safe than sorry, and letting your wound heal properly is also a great way to get yourself prepared for many more piercings, if you still want them. 

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