Infected Nipple Piercing: Symptoms, Treatment, And Risks

Discover the dangers associated with getting this bold and edgy body piercing.

Written by , MA Sangita Goel MA linkedin_icon
Edited by , BA, MSc Eshna Das BA, MSc Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , MA (Comparative Literature) Vaishali Sinha MA (Comparative Literature) Experience: 5 years

Nipple piercings have always been considered a symbol of empowerment and individuality, making them perfect for those looking to express their unique style and personality with confidence. However, the journey may not always be smooth and might leave one with an infected nipple piercing.

Even though nipple piercings are a thrilling way to venture into the realm of body modification, they demand an experienced piercer and following aftercare instructions properly to prevent any health risks. But fret not. We are here to help you. Check out this article to learn about its symptoms, causes, how to diagnose it, treatment options, and more. Scroll down and discover how to navigate this issue like a pro!

Symptoms Of A Nipple Piercing Infection

It is normal to experience temporary redness and soreness after a nipple piercing. However, persistent irritation or pain accompanied by other symptoms may increase the risk of health complications. Therefore, learning to differentiate between routine healing and signs of an infected nipple piercing is crucial for prompt and effective intervention. Here are the symptoms of a nipple piercing infection to look out for:

  • Redness and swelling
  • Persistent pain or tenderness around the pierced area
  • The area may feel warm to the touch
  • Yellow or green pus
  • A foul smell
  • Rashes around the pierced area

Systemic symptoms such as fever, body aches, chills, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue should not be overlooked as they may indicate a more severe infection.

Roly, a YouTuber, spoke about his experience of getting a nipple piercing infection in his vlog. He says, “When I woke up in the morning, my nipple was really sore, and then in gym, it was painful so when I looked down it was bright red and a little bit of crusty (i)”

Experiencing these symptoms can be alarming and uncomfortable to say the least. However, understanding the root cause behind your nipple piercing infection can help you get the appropriate treatment on time. Check out the next section to know more.

What Causes A Nipple Piercing Infection?

An infected nipple piercing can cause physical and mental distress to the concerned individual. Here are some of the factors that may cause this issue:

  • Improper or infrequent cleaning of the piercing site.
  • Touching the piercing with unwashed hands.
  • Use of non-sterile or sub-quality piercing jewelry materials.
  • Tight clothing that may easily catch onto the piercing and irritate it further.
  • Getting pierced in an unclean setting with dirty needles.
  • Individuals with a weakened immune system may be at an increased risk of contracting infections during the recovery period.

A research paper discusses a case where a woman got a bacterial nipple piercing infection after swimming in a dirty pond. She developed a breast abscess accompanied by symptoms such as pain, body aches, and redness after a month (1).

While understanding the causes behind the infection is important, leaving it untreated for a long time may cause serious health complications. Find out more in the next section.

Risks Factors Associated With A Nipple Piercing Infection

The risk for infection does not end months after the piercing has healed. Improper hygiene practices may increase the risk of developing it quickly. If left untreated, it may lead to the following potential complications:

  • Nipple-piercing infections may lead to systemic issues such as sepsis or other blood-borne infections.
  • Untreated infections may progress to abscesses requiring surgical drainage and medical intervention.
  • Some individuals may also develop allergic reactions or allergic dermatitis to the piercing metals, increasing the risk of a soft-tissue infection.
  • Chronic infections can cause scar tissue, keloids, bleeding, and nerve and tissue damage.
  • Pierced nipples can interfere with breastfeeding and other medical procedures.
  • Untreated infections increase vulnerability to secondary infections, requiring more extensive medical interventions.

Learning to identify the signs of a nipple piercing infection and diagnosing it at an early stage is key to avoiding these risks in the first place. Scroll down below to know more.

Diagnosing An Infected Nipple Piercing

Diagnosis involves keeping a lookout for symptoms like persistent redness, swelling, and tenderness around the piercing site, accompanied by abnormal discharge and a foul odor.

If you are unsure about whether they are the symptoms of a normal post-piercing inflammation or signs of an infection, consult a healthcare professional immediately.

Diagnosing the infection early can help you avoid further complications. Check out the next section to learn how to manage an infected nipple piercing at home.

Home Treatments For An Infected Nipple Piercing

A warm compress for treating an infected nipple piercing
Image: Shutterstock

Addressing an infected piercing promptly is important for a speedy and successful recovery. Here are some simple and essential ways to treat the piercing:

  • Gently clean the infected area twice a day with a saline solution or mild, non-alcoholic antiseptic solution. Avoid harsh cleansers to prevent irritation.
  • Apply a warm compress or an ice pack to the infected nipple to promote blood circulation and reduce swelling and pain.
  • Wear loose clothing to avoid trapping sweat and bacteria.
  • You can opt for over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to manage the pain.
  • Minimize strenuous activities or excessive movement to avoid irritating the infected area.
  • Avoid poking, pinching, or cutting the area to drain the pus.
  • Drink plenty of water and follow a balanced diet to support the body’s natural healing processes and aid in faster recovery.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Avoid using alcohol-based cleansers or hydrogen peroxide to clean the affected area as they may irritate it further and slow down the healing process.

The first line of treatment for an infected nipple piercing is to clean it properly. Scroll down to learn how to do so properly.

How To Clean An Infected Nipple Piercing

Improper or incorrect cleaning practices may further aggravate the infected piercing. Given below is a simple guide on how to clean it like a pro:

  • Thoroughly wash your hands with mild soap and water to prevent introducing bacteria into the piercing.
  • Add a few drops of mild, non-alcoholic antiseptic solution like tea tree oil or a mild, fragrance-free liquid soap to warm water.
  • Dip a cotton ball or clean towel into the solution and gently squeeze out the excess liquid.
  • Use gentle, circular motions to carefully clean the area and remove any crust or discharge.
  • Pat the area dry with a clean paper towel or allow it to air-dry.
protip_icon Quick Tip
While cleaning, avoid applying excessive pressure or scrubbing the area as it can further aggravate the irritation.

If your home treatments do not help clear up the symptoms within a few days, it is time to seek medical advice. Check out the next section to know more.

When To Go To A Doctor

A woman consulting a doctor about her nipple piercing infection
Image: Shutterstock

You can check in with your piercer to see if the piercing is infected and requires medical attention or not. They may make recommendations about the type of body piercing jewelry that may be better suited for your skin sensitivity or localized reaction.
It is normal to experience redness and soreness after a piercing. However, you should consult a doctor if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Bloody stool
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Dark or red lines around the pierced area
  • Severe pain or tenderness around the affected area
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Body ache

Seeking prompt medical attention is key to keeping infectious complications under control. However, following some simple tips recommended by your piercer can help decrease the risk of contracting a nipple piercing information in the long run. Find out more in the next section.

How To Prevent A Nipple Piercing Infection

Prevention is indeed better than cure. Therefore, to keep your nipple piercing safe, here are some simple tips you can follow:

  • Follow strict hygiene rules like washing your hands with soap thoroughly before touching the piercing to prevent introducing bacteria.
  • Steer clear of fragranced soaps to avoid any further irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.
  • Keep the piercing covered as best as possible to avoid introducing bacteria.
  • Refrain from unnecessary touching, twisting, or rotating the jewelry during healing.
  • Avoid removing the jewelry until the piercing has completely healed.
  • Stay away from pools and hot tubs until the piercing is fully healed to prevent bacterial exposure.
  • Schedule and attend follow-up appointments with your piercer to see if your healing is on track.

Nipple piercings are an amazing way to express your individuality. However, not following your aftercare instructions properly or getting it done from an inexperienced piercer may cause a nipple piercing infection. Keeping a look out for symptoms such as persistent pain, foul odor, or yellow pus can help you diagnose the issue early and get the required medical help. Remember, every individual heals differently. Therefore, patience and following the recommended guidelines and hygiene practices given by your piercer and doctor can help minimize the risk of infections and speed up your recovery process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a nipple piercing get infected after years?

Yes, improper hygiene practices or trauma to the piercing site may increase the risk of developing an infection years after getting a nipple piercing. Therefore, consult your piercer for long-term hygiene practices to ensure your piercing stays safe.

Can nipple infection go away on its own?

Minor infections might go away with proper and prompt care. However, leaving untreated symptoms for too long may cause complications and require quick medical intervention.

Is it normal for nipple piercing to have pus?

A small amount of clear or white discharge is normal during the initial healing phase of a nipple piercing. However, yellow or green pus with a foul odor may indicate an infection and require medical attention.

Should I take out my piercing if there is pus?

If you suspect an infection, it’s advisable to leave the piercing in place. Removing the jewelry can seal the hole and trap the bacteria inside. This may increase the risk of developing an abscess. Consult your healthcare provider for proper guidance and treatment.

How long does it take for an infected nipple piercing to heal?

The healing time for an infected nipple piercing varies based on the severity of the infection and the individual’s immune system. With proper care and advice from your doctor, your infection may heal within 2 to 3 weeks. But if your infection lingers, then it may take longer to heal.

Key Takeaways

  • Improper hygiene practices or touching the pierced nipple with dirty hands may cause an infected nipple piercing.
  • Signs of infection include redness, fever, abnormal discharge, and severe pain around the infected area.
  • Cleaning the infected piercing twice a day with a mild antiseptic solution and using topical or oral antibiotics prescribed by your doctor to help manage the infection.
  • Avoid twisting the jewelry and stay away from pools or hot tubs till the piercing is completely healed to prevent the risk of infection.

Learning how to identify the signs of infection is key to prompt medical intervention. Check out this video to learn how to recognize symptoms and get expert aftercare tips to help navigate your healing journey.

Personal Experience: Source


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  1. Mycobacterium fortuitum breast abscess after nipple piercing
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Sangita Goel

Sangita GoelBeauty & Lifestyle Writer

Sangita is a content writer with a passion for exploring diverse genres. She has written 100+ blogs on an array of topics, including relationships, travel, beauty, and fashion. Armed with a master’s degree in history from Indira Gandhi National Open University, she has leveraged her curiosity to write captivating, engaging, and informative articles. In her free time, Sangita indulges full bio

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