Infected Tongue Piercing: Causes, Signs, Bump, How to Treat, Healing

Is your tongue piercing infected? What are the causes and symptoms of an infected tongue piercing? This article explores more on what causes the infection, symptoms and how to get rid of it. You will also learn more on how to clean an infected tongue. There are also various pictures that are provided to help you understand how this condition looks like.

Infected Tongue Piercing Causes

Piercing your tongue causes an injury or a wound that can lead to infections especially under poor tongue piercing conditions and aftercare procedures. It is a tricky and risky procedure that requires a professional piercer to perform without introducing pathogenic microorganisms into your body.
Tongue piercing infections are usually caused by bacteria, fungi, yeast and other micro-organisms that are found in the mouth or that results from poor piercing and oral hygiene.  Piercing causes the microorganisms to enter into your blood stream through the wound and hence, resulting to the various symptoms.
The good news is that, despite your mouth having a large number of bacteria, the level of tongue piercing infections are low. This is according to [] that states that the oral piercing infection estimation rate is 20%.
Although the estimated infection rate is low but it does not guarantee that you will have a successful piercing. There are various risk factors that increases the chances of infection, they include the following:

  • Improper oral hygiene

Poor oral hygiene encourages buildup of bacteria and other micro-organisms that may enter your bloodstream through the piercing. You are supposed to clean your tongue and areas around the pierced site gently using a soft brush or scraper and also brush the teeth and floss regularly to keep the bacteria at bay.

  • Poor piercing condition

When intending to pierce your tongue, take your time to find a professional piercer who will perform a successful piercing. Unqualified piercers may perform the procedure under dirty conditions or using unsterilized equipment’s that can lead to an infected tongue piercing.

  • Poor aftercare procedures

Follow the aftercare instructions given by your professional piercer strictly to avoid infecting your piercing. Avoid unnecessary touching at the pierced site especially with dirty hands. Wash your hands using antibacterial soap with clean water before touching your piercing area during cleaning.

  • Trauma or injuries

Injuries or trauma to your piercing may cause bleeding that delays the healing process. Be gentle when cleaning your tongue and avoid changing the piercing ring before it has completely healed.

Symptoms or Signs of Infected Tongue Piercing

For the first few days after tongue piercing, it is normal to experience some pain and swelling on the site. It is therefore difficult to differentiate with symptoms and signs of an infection. However, pain and swelling is supposed to ease few days after the piercing.
Persistence in pain and swelling may be the first indication of an infection. Therefore, we conducted a thorough research and here are the various symptoms or signs that will help you to understand whether your tongue piercing is infected or not. They include:

  1. Swelling

As you read earlier above, it is normal to experience some swelling around the pierced site after few days from the procedure. However, when the swelling persist for a longer time, it may be an indication that your tongue piercing is infected. The swelling can also be accompanied with other symptoms that includes difficulties and chewing, swallowing or speaking.

  1. Bleeding

It is normal to experience some bleeding immediately and after few minutes after the piercing procedure. This normally happens because the piercing creates an open wound. However, it should worry you when bleeding stops and reoccurs some days later. It may also be accompanied with swelling and redness around the affected area.

  1. Redness

Like any other wound, it is normal to have slight redness occurring around the piercing for few days after the procedure. The redness is supposed to disappear when the healing process is initiated. Persisted redness accompanied with bleeding, red streak, swelling is enough evidence that shows your piercing is infected.

  1. Yellowish discharge

White discharge is a normal due to body reactions and it indicates that your piercing is healing. However, a yellowish discharge can seep from your piercing, it indicates that an infection is present or beginning to form. The yellow discharge may change to green after some times which is an indication of a serious infection that requires immediate medical care.

  1. Tenderness

Prolonged tenderness, pain, or inflammation are indications of infected tongue piercing and are not supposed to taken lightly. The areas surrounding the pierced site becomes sensitive to touch and you may feel a throbbing sensation in your whole tongue.

  1. Fever or chills

Fluctuation in body temperature from the normal to a higher or lower levels can happen few days after performing tongue piercing. This is a natural mechanism that is trying to tell you that there is something wrong with your piercing.  Body temperatures may elevate to cause fever or fall to cause chills.

  1. Swollen lymph nodes

Different lymph nodes located in various parts of your body normally swell when the nearing organ has an infection or an injury. The same will happen to the lymph nodes located around the neck when your tongue piercing becomes infected. Swollen lymph nodes may cause difficulties in swallowing food, speaking and when moving your neck

  1. Tongue discoloration

The tongue may change the color from normal to yellow, purple or green. This suggests that the infection is severe. Visit your doctor right away after experience tongue discolorations.

Infected Tongue Piercing What to Do

What can you do to prevent tongue piercing infections as well as treat them while at home when you notice the symptoms in advance. There are various simple tips and remedies that you can use to prevent and treat the infections. They include the following:

  • Get a professional piercer

When intending to pierce your tongue, it is important to find a professional piercer who has experience and skill to perform the procedure. This will not only help to avoid any infection but will also help you to find the relevant information about the procedure and what to expect after piercing.
A professional piercer should have a license from the relevant authorities, enough training, skills and experience. He or she should exercise the required sanitary precautions including using sterilize equipment’s.

  • Choosing the correct piercing jewelry

Choosing the correct tongue piercing jewelry helps to prevent infections. Your body may reject some metals which may result to delayed healing process and hence risking an infection. Go for plastics like polytetrafluorethylene or polypropylene that causes less or no allergic reaction.
Plastics also gathers less bacteria as compared to titanium or stainless steel suds. You should also avoid changing the jewelry before the healing process is complete.

  • Follow the aftercare instructions given strictly

After piercing procedure, you will be given an aftercare instructions that contain information on how to clean and products to use. In order to avoid infections, you have to follows the instructions as directed. Avoid touching the pierced site with dirty hands as they may contain germs.

  • Practice good oral hygiene

Proper oral hygiene can help to treat early symptoms of an infected tongue piercing. Use salt water solution to rinse your mouth after every meal. It helps to clean your mouth as well as killing some microorganisms that causes infections

  • Avoid alcohol, smoking and spicy foods

During the healing process, you have to avoid alcohol, tobacco smoking and certain foods especially coffee and spicy foods. They may cause irritation to your tongue piercing that may lead to delayed healing and hence putting it as risk of infections.

  • Do not change the stud during healing process

Do not change the jewelry even after noticing some signs of an infection as it may worsen your condition. Visit your piercer to remove it professionally if you have to do so. Changing the jewelry before healing may also delay the healing process.

Infected Tongue Piercing After Years

Can your tongue piercing become infected after a year? The answer is simply yes. Some people are having a habit of pulling the jewelry. This can cause a slight injury at the bottom hole. Given that your mouth contain numerous bacteria and other pathogenic micro-organisms. They can get in the injured spot to cause an infection.
It is recommended that you change the barbell that you were pierced with after the healing process is through. A tongue piercing jewelry is quite longer and you can catch it easily. It is therefore good to get a normal sized one.
However, when you notice the first symptoms of an infection, it is recommended to keep the site clean by gargling saline solution into your mouth. You may also use some of home remedy treatment to control your condition.

Infected Tongue Piercing Underneath

Underneath your tongue piercing can also get infected. You may notice some of the symptoms we have discussed above including tenderness, pain, swelling, yellow or green discharge, inflammation or a bump.
Continue reading to find out some of the treatment you can use to get rid of an infection as described below. However, it is important to visit your doctor for diagnosis to determine the cause of your infection before using some of the treatments like antibiotics.

Tongue Piercing Infection Treatment

Tongue piercing that is performed correctly and taken well care of usually heals on its own within 1 to 2 month. However, some people may experience some infections that may delay the healing process.
Tongue piercing that develops an infection usually becomes painful, swollen and inflamed among other discomforts. When symptoms of an infection are identified early, there are various treatment that you can use to treat the infection to restore proper healing process. They include the following:

  1. Cleaning the infected area

It is important to clean your piercing once you notice the symptoms of an infection before performing any other type of treatment. It is recommended to use saline solution when cleansing an infected piercing. Saline solution contains anti-bacterial properties that helps to fight the bacteria.
Apart from saline solution there is also other anti-bacterial and non-alcoholic mouthwash you can use for cleansing the infected site. You simply gargle mouthwash containing betadine thoroughly into the mouth and spit it out. This remedy may be used twice a day.

  1. Apply a warm compress

Use warm saline solution to compress the infected area. This treatment helps to improve blood supply and circulation to the infected area. It also helps to kill bacteria, relieve pain and well as speeding the healing process.
To use this treatment, you simply soak a cotton ball into warm saline solution and apply it directly on the affected area. Be gently while compressing to avoid injury or trauma. Apply the warm compress twice a day until it improves.

  1. Apply a cold compress

Apply a cold compress helps to relieve pain, swelling and other discomforts. You simply suck on some ice chips. It helps to reduce blood flow by constricting the blood vessels around the site. Don’t allow the ice chips to overstay on your tongue as it may cause burning.

  1. Take oral antibiotics

Using oral antibiotics helps when the cause of your infection is bacterial. However, it is recommended to get diagnosed to determine the exact cause of your infection before being prescribed antibiotics. This treatment can be used together with some of the home remedy treatments to restore proper healing process of your piercing.

  1. Visit your doctor for treatment

There are various serious infections that should be examined by a doctor to avoid complications like hepatitis. You should visit your doctor right away when experiencing continuous bleeding or discharge, increases fever or pain and when having difficulties in chewing and swallowing food or when speaking.

How to Clean Infected Tongue Piercing

It is very important to keep our piercing clean as you continue with treatment. Cleaning helps to kill and prevent spread of bacteria as well as boosting the healing process. Saline solution is effective when it comes to cleaning an infected piercing.
Before cleaning or touching the piercing, wash your hands thoroughly using anti-bacterial soap and clean water. You are also supposed to avoid touching the piercing except when cleaning. After washing your hands, soak a cotton ball in the saline solution and dab it on the piercing to remove the dirty. Repeat the procedure 2-3 times daily.
After every meal and brushing your teeth, use the saline solution to gargle into the mouth to any food particle that is hidden and to kill some of the pathogenic microorganisms. It also helps to speed up the healing process.
After cleaning, dry the piercing properly using a paper towel and dispose it properly. Avoid using bath towel or a piece of cloth as it may contain bacteria or germs.
Avoid using mouthwash that contains harsh chemicals that may cause irritation. You should also avoid smoking tobacco, taking alcohol, spicy or too salty food as they may cause irritations that delays the healing process.

Dangers of Infected Tongue Piercing

Given that your mouth contains numerous bacteria and other pathogenic micro-organisms, creating a wound to your tongue through piercing may introduce the bacteria into your bloodstream to cause various dangers that includes the following:
Endocarditis. An infected piercing may allow the bacteria to enter into your bloodstream and lead to various complications including endocarditis. This is an inflammation of the heart or its valves. This condition may be fatal especially to those individuals with heart problems.
Transmission of diseases. Oral or tongue piercing increases the risk of transmitting various infections including herpes simplex virus and hepatitis among other conditions. You should therefore avoid oral sex or kissing after piercing procedure.
Nerve damage. A nerve damage may lead to excessive bleeding. This may be accompanied with other symptoms that includes numbness of the tongue, difficulties in tongue movement and swelling that can block the airway.
Difficulties in routine activities. It may be difficult to perform your daily routine activities such as chewing and swallowing food or speaking clearly when your tongue is pierced and infected. This is due to production of excessive saliva by the glands.
Gum diseases.  The jewelry especially long-stem tongue jewelry may come in contact with the gum leading to an injury. The injured part can also become infected leading to loss of teeth or tooth.
Other dangers includes: allergic reaction to metals, jewelry aspiration, and damage to tooth or swellings. You should therefore visit your physician for treatment in case of any infection after tongue piercing.

More sources:

  1. Body piercing – risks:
  2. The signs of an infected tongue piercing:
  3. Body piercing problems: