- An infected belly button piercing causes swelling, pus, fever, chills, and even an upset stomach.
- If your belly button piercing is infected, do not remove it and wash it with antibacterial soap.
- To avoid infection of your piercing, clean it twice a day, avoid tight clothing, and soak the affected area daily.
- Visit the Insider Health Reference for more tips.
Belly button piercings are a popular way to change your body and show your personal style, but it comes with the risk of infection. An infected belly button piercing can be painful, unsightly, and dangerous if left untreated. This is why it is best to take care of your piercing to prevent infection in the first place.
Here’s how to tell if your belly button piercing is infected and how to treat it.
Symptoms of an infected navel piercing
If your belly button has just been pierced, it is normal for redness and swelling to appear around the piercing. Howard Sobel, M.D., a certified dermatologist at Sobel Skin and an attending dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital.
However, if the swelling becomes severe and is accompanied by pain that resembles soreness, it could be a sign of infection, Sobel says. Other symptoms that indicate that you may have an infection include:
- Smelly discharge / pus from piercing
- Stomach upset
How to treat an infected navel piercing
“To heal an infected navel piercing, it is important not to remove the piercing. You may be tempted to remove it, but if it does, you risk closing the wound and trapping the infection inside your body, ”says Sobel. Holding on to the piercing also allows pus to drain.
You should also make sure that the area stays clean. “Remember that piercings are open wounds, so it’s important to keep them clean while they heal,” says Sobel.
Sobel says you should also follow these three steps, which will work together to treat the infection:
- Cleanse the affected area with a mild antibacterial soap and pat dry with a clean towel twice a day, morning and evening.
- Apply antibiotic ointment twice daily after cleaning the area.
- Use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to keep the wound clean once a day at night after cleaning the affected area.
If the infection persists even after following these care tips, or if you experience more severe symptoms such as fever, chills, and upset stomach, you should see your doctor. Sobel says that in this case, you may need oral antibiotics to help clear the infection.
if you are do not treat infected piercings, this can lead to a more serious infection, abscess, or spread of infection. Therefore, it is very important to take action if your piercing is infected.
How to care for your belly button piercing so as not to get infected
There are steps you can take to take care of your belly button piercing, especially when it heals for the first time. Sobel advises keeping your piercing healthy and you should:
- Clean your piercing regularly with warm water and a little soap, twice a day.
- Soak the affected area with sterile saline for 5-10 minutes a day. You can do this by dampening a cotton ball with the solution and then applying it to the affected area.
- Avoid tight-fitting clothing that can cause irritation. Choose looser tops and pants instead.
- Avoid hot tubs, pools, and lakes where chemicals or dirt can irritate your piercing.
- Cover the piercing with a large bandage during exercise to avoid irritation during exercise. This will prevent it from moving and prevent further irritation from sweating or rubbing clothing against the infected area.
Compared to other piercings, belly button piercings take longer to heal. This may take up to nine months for this type of piercing to heal completely. However, you only need to avoid bodies of water or tight clothing that can irritate the piercing for about three months, Sobel says.
Belly button piercings can be a fun type of body modification, but you must be vigilant during the healing process to avoid infection. This is why it is so important to follow the piercing care instructions and be aware of the signs and symptoms of a possible infection.
If you think your belly button piercing is infected, take action as soon as possible and see your doctor if things don’t improve after home care or if your symptoms are severe.