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How to Identify and Treat a Tongue Piercing Infection?

Getting a tongue piercing can be an exciting way to express your style. However, like all piercings, it carries some risks - including the possibility of developing an infection. Tongue-piercing infections should not be taken lightly, as they can be extremely painful and lead to serious complications if left untreated.

What Causes Tongue Piercing Infections?

Tongue piercings, especially those through the webbing underneath the tongue (tongue web piercings), are prone to infection because the mouth contains billions of bacteria. While piercers follow strict sterilization procedures, it’s impossible to eliminate risk. Oral bacteria can enter the piercing hole and cause an infection. Infection risk remains high during the long healing period of 4-6 weeks for a tongue piercing.

Some common causes of tongue-piercing infections include:

  • Poor oral hygiene - Not adequately brushing and flossing allows bacteria to proliferate.

  • Playing with the jewelry - This irritates the piercing channel and introduces bacteria.

  • Using low-quality jewelry - Inferior grade metals can react with fluids and harbor microbes.

  • Tobacco use or alcohol consumption - These irritate the fresh piercing.

  • A weak immune system - Health issues make you more prone to infection.

Signs of a Tongue Piercing Infection

The most common signs of an infected tongue piercing are:

  • Pain - Severe or worsening pain and soreness at the piercing site.

  • Redness - Red, swollen tissue surrounding the piercing hole.

  • Pus - Yellow or white thick discharge oozing from the puncture site.

  • Difficulty swallowing - Painful or uncomfortable swallowing.

  • Fever - An oral infection can sometimes trigger a fever.

More serious symptoms like rashes, high fever, blood in the saliva, or foul breath require urgent medical care. Left untreated, tongue-piercing infections can become life-threatening.

How to Get Rid of an Infected Tongue Piercing

If your tongue piercing is infected, these are some effective home remedies to try:

  • Sea Salt Soaks

Mix coarse sea salt with warm water. Swish this solution vigorously around your mouth 2-3 times a day. Salt has antimicrobial effects to combat infection.

  • Tea Tree Oil

Dilute a few drops of tea tree oil with water. Apply this over the piercing using a cotton swab 2-3 times daily. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic.

  • Chamomile Compress

Brew a strong chamomile tea. Soak a paper towel or cotton cloth in it. Apply a hot compress over the infected piercing for relief. Chamomile possesses anti-inflammatory properties.

Avoid using harsh antiseptics like hydrogen peroxide as these can be counterproductive. Never remove the jewelry from an infected piercing because this traps pus and bacteria inside, worsening the infection.

If there is no improvement in infection symptoms within 2-3 days of diligent at-home care, it’s vital to see your doctor or piercer promptly. You may require prescription oral antibiotics or an incision and drainage procedure. Leaving an infected tongue piercing untreated can have serious health consequences like brain abscesses or sepsis.

Preventing Tongue Piercing Infections

While tongue piercings look stylish, they need to be well cared for to avoid infections. Here are some useful tongue-piercing aftercare tips:

  • Maintain excellent oral hygiene with daily brushing, flossing, and antiseptic mouthwash use.

  • Avoid playing with the jewelry or moving it before the piercing has healed.

  • Choose jewelry made from implant-grade metals like titanium. Nickel has been linked with piercing irritation and infections.

  • Eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated to support healing.

  • Keep all instruments sterile that contact the piercing. Wash your hands before touching them.

Getting touch-up checkups done by your piercer periodically can also help identify problems early. Pay attention to any symptoms like persistent soreness or swelling which could indicate trouble. Leaving crusty discharge or dried blood around the piercing area can allow bacteria to gain a foothold.


Knowing how to spot and treat an infected tongue piercing right away is crucial. This helps resolve issues before they spiral out of control. Adopt smart aftercare and you’ll reduce risks allowing you to enjoy your new piercing safely for years to come!

If you have a tongue-piercing infection that won’t resolve with at-home care, don’t delay - contact our office right away to be seen. At Forest Height Family Dental, we have extensive experience treating all types of dental infections, including infected oral piercings. Don’t suffer needlessly - get that painful tongue-piercing infection evaluated right away. Call Forest Height Family Dental now to schedule an urgent infection examination and rapid treatment. We guarantee compassionate, non-judgmental care for our alternative, artistic, and self-expression patients.


  1. How do I know if my tongue piercing is infected? 

Signs of an infected tongue piercing include severe pain or tenderness, swelling, redness, pus draining from the piercing, difficulty swallowing, fever, and the appearance of a tongue piercing infection bump around the piercing hole.

  1. What causes tongue-piercing infections? 

Tongue-piercing infections are usually caused by bacteria entering the wound. Oral bacteria can enter due to poor hygiene, playing with jewelry, using low-quality metals, tobacco and alcohol use which irritate the area, or a weak immune system.

  1. Is pus normal with a tongue piercing while healing? 

A small amount of discharge is expected during the healing period. However, any thick, foul-smelling yellowish or green pus indicates infection and requires prompt treatment. While some tenderness or lymph node swelling is normal at first, worsening localized pain also signifies a developing infection.

  1. How can I prevent my tongue piercing from getting infected? 

Practice exceptional hygiene, avoid touching jewelry unnecessarily during healing, opt for high-quality metals like titanium, abstain from irritants like smoking or drinking alcohol, and take extra precautions if you have any underlying immune or health issues making infections more likely.

  1. When should you see a doctor about an infected tongue piercing?

You need to contact your doctor or piercer right away if at-home remedies don’t substantially improve infection symptoms within 2-3 days, or if any alarming systemic signs appear like dehydration, high fevers exceeding 101°F, spreading skin rash or foul, unbearable mouth odor along with difficulty swallowing saliva or fluids. Rampant oral infections can have dangerous complications so should never be ignored if severe or worsening.

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