A pierced lip may be stylish, but it is also prone to the risk of infections. Areas around the mouth are delicate and can easily get inflamed.
Without maintaining proper hygiene, body piercings and tattoos can easily cause health problems. For instance, you can easily get an infected lip piercing if you do not maintain good oral hygiene.
What is a lip piercing?
A lip piercing is a little hole made on the lip where rings and other ornaments can be inserted for beauty purposes. Lip piercings can be made on various parts of both lips with some even preferring to have a line of them.
Like piercings made on other parts of the body, lip piercings need to heal before they can be safe. Until the piercing has completely healed, it is still vulnerable to infections.
While not a serious case, infections of the lip from a piercing need to be treated early enough to prevent their spreading to other parts of the face such as the teeth or gums.
The delicate nature of the lips means that infections of the lips will take quite a while to heal. Early treatment is what you need if you have this kind of infection.
Types of lip piercings
There are various types of piercings for the lips available. The name of each depends on the position of each piercing on the lips. They include:
- Monroe piercing: When a piercing is made off-center and above the upper lip on your left-hand side, it will be called the Monroe piercing. It was named so after the famous actress Marilyn Monroe who had one.
- Madonna piercing: One placed off-center and above the upper lip and on your right-hand side is the Madonna piercing. This one gets its name from the musician Madonna.
- Philtrum piercing: This kind of lip piercing is located in the philtrum just below the septum. It is often referred to as the medusa piercing.
- Labret piercing: This one is located under the lower lip above your chin.
There are many other types of lip piercings although these are the most common ones.
No kind of piercing is safer than the other when it comes to the likelihood of getting infected. It all depends on the aftercare your piercing has after you make it and before it heals.
What causes lip piercing infections?
The wet conditions of the mouth increase the likelihood of getting an infection as micro-organisms thrive in such a condition. Once you have had your piercing on the lip, you need to practice a high level of oral hygiene to keep the infections at bay.
Among the likely causes of these infections are:
- Not following the instructions you are given about keeping the wound clean and infection-free.
- If you take drinks with lots of sugar before the wound heals, you increase the chances of yeast infections on the wound.
- If the equipment being used for the piercing is not sterilized properly, you are likely to get infected. Always make sure you have seen the person piercing clean the equipment properly.
- If your hands are dirty and you touch the piercing before it has healed, you will infect it with germs.
- If the studs or rings inserted into the piercing are not cleaned before each insertion, you increase the chances of having the piercing infected.
As seen here, it all boils down to the hygiene around the piercing. One mishap and you will have an infection to deal with for a while.
Signs and Symptoms
If you have had an infection on the skin due to a cut or piercing before, you are already familiar with this kind infection. The signs and symptoms that you have an infected lip piercing include:
- When you have pain around the piercing which persists for days on end.
- Piercing pain is mild after a day or two. If, however, it is intense and persistent, it could be an infection.
- The pierced area may become red and swollen.
- The pain may be felt more when you try to chew food or talk or other similar mouth movements.
- You may have swollen neck lymph nodes. The lymph nodes may swell on both sides of the neck (left or right) or only one side may have the swelling.
- The pierced area may have pus of a green, white or yellow color. The pus usually has a foul smell.
- Irritation and itching around the pierced area is another sign of infection.
- Tenderness around the pierced area.
- You may feel chills and nausea with loss of function of the pierced area.
- Aching and pain in the pierced area.
- A burning sensation on the lip.
If you have any of these symptoms, you should make it a point to see a doctor as soon as you can.
The moist conditions of the mouth making it easy for the germs to infect the wound created by the piercing. When you have an infection, the same moist conditions make it hard healing as there is always the chance of a reinfection.
Be careful after noticing that your wound is infected. Refrain from touching it too often or even squeezing the area as you could make the infection worse.
For treatment purposes, you have the option of over the counter medication or home remedies.
Due to the pain you may feel from the infection, you may need to use painkillers to soothe the pain away. Painkillers such as ibuprofen are among the most common recommended ones.
Besides that, you will be given antibiotics such as the following:
- Cephalosporins like cephalexin
- Fluoroquinolones like ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and levofloxacin
- Tetracyclines like doxycycline and tetracycline
- Penicillins like amoxicillin and penicillin
- Macrolides like azithromycin, clarithromycin and erythromycin
- Sulfonamides like trimethoprim and co-trimozazole
- Aminoglycosides like tobramycin and gentamicin
The specific type of antibiotic will depend on the extent of your infection and the type of infection as well.
You can use home remedies to back up the prescribed medication. The most common home remedies in such cases include:
- You can have a cup of plain yogurt every day since this type of yogurt has good bacteria that will help you get rid of the infection.
- You should also get sea salt and gargle its solution at least three times each day for the best results. Do so after meals to reap the maximum benefits from this solution. Be careful not to use too much salt due to its drying effect.
- A warm compress also helps a great deal in speeding up the healing process. Get a clean piece of cloth then dip in hot water. Wring the water out and dab the affected area at least twice a day.
- Get some ice chips and suck on them a few times a day. They prevent inflammation and reduce on the pain.
- Use mouthwash that is free of alcohol and with antibacterial properties on a daily basis as it helps kill the bacteria in the mouth that may cause infections.
If you need to speed up the healing process, you can avoid any unhealthy practices such as drinking alcohol and smoking. Also keep off from sugary foods.
To speed up the healing process and prevent reinfection, you need to know how to take care of a wound once the infection has set in.
Even without the infection, there are a few steps you need to be aware of to prevent the infection itself.
How to clean an infected lip piercing
To clean the piercing correctly, follow these steps:
- Always start by washing your hands with clean water and soap as this prevents reinfection by keeping the wound clean.
- Use a mouthwash that has antibacterial properties and is free from alcohol. Use it twice a day to clean the wound and the mouth in general.
- Warm water and some antibacterial soap can be used to dab the outside part of the wound at least twice each day.
- Make sure that whatever piece of jewelry you use on your lip piercing is clean at all times. This prevents the introduction of germs into the piercing.
Again, it is all about the hygiene you have with the piercing.
There are a few precautions you should keep in mind to keep the wound free from infections. They are:
- Keep off spicy foods as they will irritate the wound and make you touch it often.
- Avoid touching the pierced area or the stud in it.
- When infected, do not remove the jewelry. Its presence in the piercing helps in draining any excessive fluid from the wound.
- Refrain from applying anything to the wound unless told so by the doctor or healthcare provider.
With all these aspects in mind, you can be sure to heal as fast as possible. The best option is however just being careful with the piercing until it has fully healed.
- The US National Library of Medicine: Common complications of body piercing
- NCBI: Body Piercings: Medical Concerns with Cutting-Edge Fashion