Even if properly cared for, nipple piercings can become infected, causing a red rash, pain, and swelling. Treating an infection can be annoying and scary, but it can be cured. It's a good idea to call your doctor if you have an infection, but you can also take home treatments to manage the symptoms. However, if the infection does not improve after a week or if it gets worse, you should see a doctor. In addition, take good care of your piercing to prevent infection from developing.
Method 1 of 3: Treating Infections at Home
Step 1. Wash your hands with soap and water before treating your piercing
Keeping your hands clean can prevent dirt and bacteria from sticking together when you accidentally touch the wound. Before touching the piercing area, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
When you're done, dry your hands with a clean towel or tissue paper
Step 2. Leave the piercing in place to let the pus out
When you remove the piercing, the skin will begin to close. This will trap fluid and pus under the skin, causing ulcers. This condition is much more difficult to treat and leads to more severe infections. Keep the piercing on the nipple until the infection clears or your doctor tells you to remove it.
If your body reacts badly to nipple jewelry, your doctor may recommend that you replace it. This way, the piercing will remain open and ooze fluid. If your doctor recommends this, contact your piercer for a replacement ring
If your doctor recommends removing or replacing your piercing, contact the piercer who installed it. Never try to take it off yourself.
Step 3. Clean your nipple piercing twice a day to heal the wound
Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Then, wet the nipple with warm water and clean the area with an unscented soap. Rinse off the soap with warm water, then moisten it with cleaning fluid. Finally, pat the area with a clean dry towel.
- You can buy cleaning fluid at the pharmacy, or make your own by mixing 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of salt in 1 cup (240 ml) of purified water.
- The best time to clean and treat your piercing is after a shower.
Step 4. Use a warm compress for 15-30 minutes to treat inflammation and fluid deficiency
Dip a clean cloth in a glass of warm water, then apply it to the nipple. Leave this compress for 15-30 minutes. Finally, pat the nipples dry.
- You can use a warm compress every 2-3 hours, as needed.
- Immediately wash the washcloth used to compress the wound. Use a clean cloth to compress the wound.
- Do not use cotton to clean and compress the nipple. Cotton fibers can stick to the wound and make the infection worse.
Step 5. Apply a cold compress for 15-30 minutes to reduce pain and swelling
Fill a plastic bag with ice and water. Cover the nipple with a towel to protect it from the cold. After that, position the bag of ice on the towel covering the nipple. Hold the ice pack for 15-30 minutes. Check your skin every few minutes to make sure it's not too cold.
- You can use a cold compress every 2-3 hours, as needed.
- If you feel uncomfortable, remove the cold compress and allow the skin temperature to return to normal.
- Place a towel or piece of cloth between the ice and your skin. Otherwise, you may accidentally injure the skin.
If you don't have an ice pack, you can use a clean washcloth. Wet a cloth with ice water. If you have time, place the cloth in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Then, place the cloth over the nipple. If it feels too cold, use a towel to protect your skin.
Step 6. Bathe the piercing with salt water for 5-15 minutes twice a day
Put the purified water into a small glass. After that, add a pinch of salt and stir until dissolved. Bend down to insert the nipple into the glass. Push your body so that the edges of the glass stick together and create a “seal”. Wait for 5-15 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
- Do this twice a day for three days. If your infection doesn't get better, see your doctor for other treatment options.
- Use sea salt. Never use table salt that contains iodine.
Step 7. Wear loose clothing while healing
Unfortunately, the friction of tight clothes can hinder the healing process. In addition, tight clothing can trap sweat and bacteria that can exacerbate the infection. To prevent this problem, wear loose-fitting clothing while healing.
If you usually wear a bra, switch to a camis because the bra can put pressure on the nipple piercing. If you insist on wearing a bra, wear something soft and hollow so it's not too tight
Step 8. Do not use over-the-counter antibiotic creams
Although antibiotic creams are effective in treating minor wounds, they are not suitable for treating severe infections. This cream can form a thin layer over the skin so that the wound is closed. This causes the wound to not be able to dry and the source of infection will be trapped in the wound.
Consult your doctor before applying any medication to your nipples, including over-the-counter medications
Step 9. Do not apply alcohol and hydrogen peroxide as they are too harsh
While you usually treat the wound with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, using the same method to treat a nipple infection can hinder the healing process. These products can irritate the skin so that the healing process is hampered and even causes new symptoms. Use sea salt to reduce irritation.
Method 2 of 3: Seeking Medical Help
Step 1. Call your doctor if the symptoms of the infection do not improve after one week of self-medication
It's best to contact your doctor as soon as you notice that any part of your body is infected. However, you should seek medical attention if the infection starts to get worse or gets worse. Otherwise, the wound will get worse. You will begin to experience the following symptoms:
- Swelling and red rash that gets worse around the piercing area.
- Increased rafting or skin sensitivity.
- A throbbing sensation or severe burning sensation of the skin.
- Warm skin around the piercing area.
- Foul smell from the pierced area.
- Rash around the piercing
- The appearance of yellow or green pus.
- Body feels sore
Step 2. See a doctor immediately if a blood cyst or abscess appears
Blood cysts appear when blood clots under the skin. Similar to this condition, an abscess forms when the pus in the nipple collects under the skin because it is not drained. Both cysts and abscesses can create boils on the skin. Your doctor will make sure you have a cyst or abscess, and then determine what type of treatment is most appropriate.
- Your doctor may recommend using a warm compress to soften a cyst or abscess that doesn't go away on its own. This usually occurs when the cysts and abscesses are small and newly formed.
- If the cyst or abscess is large or a bit firm, your doctor may drain it. This can cause some discomfort. After anesthetizing the injured area, the doctor will make a small incision in the lump to allow the fluid to drain out. After that, he will give antibiotics to help heal the wound.
Step 3. Ask your doctor if you need to take antibiotics
Doctors will usually recommend home treatment. However, if symptoms do not improve, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat them. Take antibiotics as directed and finish the prescription, even if you feel better.
- If you stop taking the drug too soon, the infection may reappear in a more severe condition.
- Your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic cream to treat minor infections. However, you will need oral antibiotics to treat a fairly severe infection.
Method 3 of 3: Preventing the Infection From Reappearing
Step 1. Don't touch your piercing
Touching the pierced area can channel dust, dirt, and infection-causing bacteria. It's best not to touch your piercing unless you're going to have it cleaned or treated. When you have to touch your piercing, wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds.
- Similarly, don't let other people touch your piercing.
- If you need to touch your piercing for cleaning or maintenance, wash your hands first.
Step 2. Clean your piercing twice a day and after exercising
After washing your hands, wet your nipples and use a gentle, unscented cleanser to clean them. Rinse the piercing with warm water, then sanitize it with cleaning fluid before drying it with a clean towel to dry.
Be sure to wash your piercing whenever you sweat. Bacteria and sweat can cause infection or make it worse
Step 3. Don't let your partner touch or lick the nipple while it's healing
Bacteria from your partner's saliva or hands can cause the infection or make it worse. It is very important not to touch the piercing at all until it is fully healed. During the healing period, you should avoid sexual contact first.
Say, “My piercing is still healing. Please don't touch it."
Step 4. Stay away from slides, swimming pools, hot tubs, and bathtubs until your piercing heals
The water in these locations usually contains bacteria and germs that cause infection. It's best to stay away from water until the injured area heals. During this time, take a quick shower to cleanse the body.
It's best to talk to your doctor about when you can swim again. Otherwise, you could get a more serious infection.
Step 5. Do not apply lotions, creams, or other products on the pierced area
Personal care products can be a breeding ground for infection-causing bacteria. Similarly, personal care products also contain fragrances that can irritate the piercing. Do not use the following products:
- Body moisturizer or cream
- body butter
- sunscreen cream
- Unscented soap or bath soap
- Tanning oil
- Wash your hands before touching the piercing to prevent bacteria from moving to the wound area.
- It's normal to have a slight red rash, itching, and pus a few days after getting pierced. This is part of the healing process.
- After treatment, the nipple piercing should heal within a few weeks.
- While you can treat infected nipple piercings at home, it's best to contact your doctor immediately if you think you have an infection. The infection may get worse and leave scars.
- Do not use perfume or fragrance products around the infected area. The product may cause irritation.
- Do not touch the skin around the piercing because your fingers can carry bacteria that cause infection.