How to Treat Infected Piercings

by braniac ; Updated September 28, 2017

An infected piercing can be painful and if it gets bad enough, or progresses fast enough, it can hinder your everyday life. Infected tongue rings can stop you from eating or speaking properly and the effects can be permanent if the infection isn't killed fast enough. Infected eyebrow piercings can cause the entire eye area to swell. And a navel body piercing can come right up out of the skin, leaving you with an ugly scar if the infection isn't treated fast enough.

Items you will need

  • white vinegar
  • q-tip
  • paper towel
  • antimicrobial soap
Step 1

Pinch on each side of the piercing so that your fingers are going the same direction as the bar.

Step 2

Squeeze. The infection inside the piercing should come out if you squeeze gently. Do not get rough. You don't need all of it out if it won't come, you just need to make room around the metal for things to drain out.

Step 3

Dip a Q-tip into dilluted white vinegar. The dillution should be about 1/6 vinegar with the rest as water.

Step 4

Swab around the openings of the infected piercing. This may sting some people, but shouldn't be too harsh.

Step 5

If that didn't sting too badly make a compress using vinegar. Pour the same dillution of vinegar over a paper towel.

Step 6

Fold the paper towel into a small square and place it over the piercing so that it covers the entrance and exit of the piercing.

Step 7

Leave it for five minutes. This will help draw out the infection and get the vinegar into the opening.

Step 8

Rinse the infected piercing in lukewarm water using an antimicrobial soap.

Step 9

Visit the piercing artist if the infection does not clear in a few days or if it worsens. Tell him what you have done to keep it clean, he may have further instructions for you, or he may suggest you visit a doctor to get antibiotics.


  • Using salt soaks for fresh piercings will help prevent infections to begin with. Use salt soaks in conjunction with this vinegar treatment for best results. This treatment is safe for oral piercings. Just dilute some vinegar and swish it around your mouth. It will taste terrible.


  • Do not touch or handle a piercing unless it is being cleaned, and then use only freshly cleaned hands. Never remove a piercing with an infection. If the holes close with the infection still in it, the infection will work its way deeper into the skin and could cause sepsis. Even if you want to be done with the piercing allow the infection to drain out before removing it. Never use Bactine, peroxide or alcohol on a piercing. These are too strong and will eat way new flesh, slowing down the healing process or reversing it. Never use Neosporin or another type of gel antibiotic. These clog the exits of the piercing and will encourage the infection to work into the skin rather than drain out. Do not use this extensively. It should only be used to heal an infection and should not be used on healthy pierced flesh. It will risk damaging tissue and prolonging healing.