Dealing With Piercing Infection

While dealing with the infection in my nose for at least six months I think I’ve learnt a bit about how to handle it. I am not a professional and these are not to be used in contradiction or instead of professional help. My biggest advice is to see a professional! Anyway, here are some tips and tricks for when that distressing little bump appears.

How to avoid infection?

  • Don’t change jewellery. This is only while your piercing is still healing and while it may look healed (they heal from the outside in) it’s safer to wait it out until you’re completely sure. Changing a healing piercing will aggravate the wound and possibly spread bacterial (this is why you shouldn’t spin s healing piercing. If you need to get the ‘crust’ out just soak it in some hot water (or a sea salt soak, later explained) and it will generally soften and fall out on it’s own.
  • Cleaning your piercing everyday is very important, it helps keep the bacterial away and lets the piercing heal. Not to mention keep crust away (generally).
  • Let your piercing breath. Yes, I’m on about crust again but for a piercing it’s important to have fresh air flowing. Build up of crust is great for bacterial to build as you clean the ‘dirt’ has no where to go and can result in infection or a bubble, or if you already have an infection for it to worsen.
  • Over cleaning your piercing can be just as bad as not cleaning it. While it helps to clean out the crust and to make sure it’s fresh and clean your body has it’s own means of ridding your body of toxins and healing itself and over cleaning may affect this.
  • Touching a healing piercing (or generally a healed piercing) may make it aggravated. It can spread bacterial. When touching your piercing wash your hands well.
  • Your piercing (especially if it’s a surface bar) WILL get caught on things. Try and be careful around towels, while kissing or generally anything that is made of material that can be easily caught on. Just getting it caught on something and not pulled out can aggravate it and if it does fall out it should be properly cleaned as well as possible.
  • Go to a piercer you can trust. I’ve been to all of the piercing places in my town and know the people that know what they’re talking about. I have my favourites and know they’re hours and I know the places that I would only recommend to someone studying bacteria. Looking at your options is great and try to make the appointment yourself and in person. This gives you the time to look around at how they work and how clean they are and take the time to ask them some questions. It’s not difficult to see who has experience and who was taught to pierce from the back of a pamphlet.

Firstly, what is an infection?

Infections are generally noticed as bumps beside or around the piercing. They tend to be attributed with green puss and sometimes bleeding (mostly when popped) and there would be a general redness to the skin around it. Infections aren’t always painful and can come in lots of different appearances – it can sometimes be difficult to tell them apart from hypertrophic scarring.

How did this infection appear?

Infection can be caused by a numerous amount of things and this list is way too short to talk about all of them in detail. Finding the cause is very important to healing the infection. For instance if you have the wrong type of metal, sea salt soaks wont do anything because the metal is still causing the irritation. Common causes are:

  • You have the wrong type of metal for a healing piercing.
  • You’ve knocked it or it’s been pulled out/changed and aggravated.
  • Something caused by your cleaning routine (or lack of).
  • You’ve gained or have an allergy from the metal.
  • It might not be an infection but a build up of tissue, also known as hypertrophic scarring.
  • It could be irritated by hairspray, foundation, etc.

What can I do?

  • Stay calm! Personally I’m horrible at staying calm and I can’t sit back and watch while nothing happens. I have to be doing something NOW to fix this problem. This is the worst thing you can do. You tend to make rash decisions and not think or read careful enough into what you’re actually doing.
  • Did you bump your piercing this morning and now it’s red and sore? Wash some warm water over it and try not to touch it. Look at what you’ve done recently. If you’ve changed your piercing it’s more than likely the metal?
  • Do not take it out! Taking out an infected piercing can cause long term problems. Some say it’ll trap the infection in your nose to cause harsh effects. When getting a piercing you have to understand that it’s a long term decision and you have to be able to care for it. At the first sign of a problem, ripping it out probably means that you didn’t think enough about actually wanting it.

Getting rid of infection:

  • Sea salt soaks involves boiling a cup full or water and add natural (not iodised) sea salt. I’ve read 1/2 a tea spoon, which sounds like way too much, and 1/8th which is what I prefer. Adding too much may cause irritation but generally the amount your body reacts to is different for everyone as everyone’s body’s are different.

    I’ve read that some use cotton balls to apply salt soak compresses to their piercing but cotton balls shed and can leave parts around your piercing. A common method is to use the cup filled with boiling water and salt, wait until it cools enough to touch. Find a video or something to watch for five or ten minutes and hold the cup against your piercing.

  • Saline solution is basically a premixed salt solution. basically the same method as above.
  • Tea tree oil/other oils can help to sooth and dry out an infected piercing.
  • The ‘aspirin’ option. The most recent piercer I’ve been to told me about this method. You take an aspirin tablet that is disprovable and wet it and rub it around the infected area. I looked it up online and wasn’t quite sure what to think. Some said that it can be harmful to you etc. I might try it if in great need but I would recommend you read carefully about it first.
  • When in doubt go to your piercer. Go to any piercer. If you’ve found that the piercer that you had the piercing done with is not helping or doesn’t know what they’re talking about go to another piercer. Infections are a serious matter and you’ll need someone who can actually help you fix the problem. You might miss something that a professional would probably see and don’t forget to ask them how they think you should clean it and anything you want to know in the slightest.
  • Don’t touch the infected piercing with unclean hands and generally try not to play with it. It spreads infection and may aggravate an already infected piercing.
  • If all else fails and your piercer isn’t sure what to do, it’s always best to go to your doctor. Antibiotics may be necessary or an allergy could be the cause. Anyway, doctors are professionally trained infections and such.

 Best wishes,
-Sary Walrus



  1. March 11, 2012 / 4:55 am

    I agree with all of what you have here except the Keloid.
    Keloids are continual growths, usually appearing in people with African or Hispanic descent.
    They must be removed surgically, if removed at all.
    Hypertrophic scarring is what is mostly common, this is completely treatable and is caused from trauma to the skin. Usually if you do some Chamomile soaks over time you'll be fine.
    Cartilage piercings are VERY susceptible to getting hypertrophic scarring due to the amount of tissue the needle is forcing itself through to make the hole.

  2. March 11, 2012 / 5:06 am

    Oooh, I like the information! Thanks!

    The next time I get my, well, anything pierced, I'll have to remind them that I'm allergic to nickel. I found that out the hard way o_o

  3. March 11, 2012 / 5:09 am

    Oh thanks! I should have put hypertrophic scarring.

  4. Jasmine Best
    March 11, 2012 / 3:45 pm

    This was very very very informative. I'm thinking about getting a nose piercing so the more I know about how to have and maintain a healthy piercing the better

  5. March 11, 2012 / 8:11 pm

    great infos and tips!

    and most important: everyone is different. after a few piercings/tattoos you should get to know your skin. in the beginning i treated my piercings like wounds at work (geriatric nurse…) and according to what my piercer said. but i found out that for me it works best to 2x a day use sterilium to clean my hands, then use octenisept without any cotton or anything else (just the liquid) and when its dry i use penaten baby cream (which can cause a lot of problems on other people's piercing and tattoo wounds or even change the colors but works perfect on me)

  6. carolinecarnivorous
    March 11, 2012 / 11:46 pm

    I don't know if I'm wrong about this, but I've read most places on the internet that the nostril piercing bump / zit is pretty normal and stuff like that. I got mine maybe a month after I got the piercing done, and it dissappeared a month after that, and it didn't even leave a trace. It bled when it was popped and stuff, but one day it was dried out, and I managed to scratch the whole thing off oO

  7. March 12, 2012 / 1:55 am

    I totally took my nose piercing out after 6 months – it kept getting infected, & I kept bumping into things which only made it worse.

    Wish I'd read this a few weeks ago- ha, I might've kept it! XD

  8. March 12, 2012 / 3:38 am

    I've read about that too and you're right. Piercing bumps and pimples sometimes just happen and disappear eventually. :3

  9. CatacombKitten
    March 12, 2012 / 12:37 pm

    A very useful post, thank you!
    I've got three piercings (nostril, helix and belly button) and each of them got infected. For the helix and nose piercing, it was very simply because I'm allergic to some kinds of metal (I'm still not sure which) and the jewellery they gave me simply wasn't right. I hadn't even considered that the first couple of months, so I'm glad I figured that out.

  10. Vulcan Butterfly
    March 21, 2012 / 4:56 pm

    A couple of other tips: DO NOT take out your infected piercing because the hole may close over and the infection cannot drain. You may need oral antibiotics if your infection gets bad enough. Be careful about the doctor you choose as some are not piercing-friendly. Your pharmacist can also advise you regarding options for cleaning your piercings. Hopefully this advice is helpful.

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