Infected Lip Piercing: Causes, Signs, Treatment

Infected Lip Piercing
Infected Lip Piercing

Lip piercing is a type of body piercing placed around the mouth. A piercing is an open wound until it heals. All types of piercing can get infected if there is no proper aftercare. Although infected lip piercing is not as serious, it can spread to other parts of the mouth if left untreated. The parts which may be affected after it spreads are gums or teeth. Infected lip piercings usually take a long time to heal. 

Types of Lip Piercing

There are different types of lip piercing depending on the position. Monroe piercing is one placed off-center, above the upper lip on the left-hand side. Madonna piercing is similar to Monroe but placed on the right-hand side.

Philtrum piercing, commonly known as medusa, is one placed in the philtrum directly under the septum. Labret piercing is one placed below the bottom lip above the chin. No matter how professional lip piercing is done, there will always be dangers of infection.

Causes of Infected Lip Piercing

Is my lip piercing infected? Infection on the piercing has many possible causes. The mouth is almost always moist. It is also surrounded by numerous opportunistic micro-organisms. These together with poor oral hygiene make up the major causes of infected lip piercing. Other causes include:

Infected Lip Piercing.
Infected Lip Piercing.
  • In situations where the equipment used is not been properly sterilized.
  • Failure to follow instructions of how to keep clean the pierced area.
  • Any contact with dirty hands to the pierced part.
  • Taking drinks which contain yeast before the piercing has healed.
  • Mishandling of the rings or studs in the piercing.

Signs and Symptoms of an Infected Lip Piercing

Lip piercing has numerous signs and symptoms. A severe pain that’s persistent for days is one of the signs. Normally after lip piercing, one will feel pain. However, if the pain is extreme this may be an infection symptom. This may be accompanied by swelling and redness at the pierced part. The pain may be more extreme to the extent that one cannot chew food.

Additional Signs And Symptoms Include:

  • Fever
  • Swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, that is either one or both sides.
  • Yellow or green pus discharge from the pierced part usually with a foul smell
  • Itching around the pierced part
  • Irritation
  • Chills, nausea, and loss of function
  • Swelling, redness, and tenderness
  • Burning sensation due to allergic reaction
  • Pain and aching

One should be keen on the above signs and symptoms. This is because they will help one to take appropriate steps for medication.

How to Treat an Infected Lip Piercing

Depending on the extent of the infection on your lip piercing, it may take a while to completely heal. The mouth is usually moist. It is surrounded by hundreds of micro-organisms. This may make treatment and healing a little tasking.

After noticing your lip piercing is infected, avoid touching or squeezing out the discharge. This is because your hands have bacteria which may worsen the infection. You can clean the area with warm water to improve its condition.

Over the Counter Medication

Medication can help improve the condition of infected part. Use pain relievers such as ibuprofen to reduce throbbing pain.

If the infection is severe the doctor will prescribe antibiotics.

It is advisable not to remove your lip stud after the piercing gets infected. Removing it will cause the infection to get trapped within the piercing hole and you could develop an abscess. The jewelry allows the infection to drain, which is why it should be left in.

How to Heal an Infected Lip Piercing – Home Remedies

To supplement medication one can seek relief from the following home remedies;

  • Ice: Suck on a few ice chips, as they help reduce the pain and swelling. It will also reduce risks of an inflammation.
  • Yogurt has good bacteria which can encourage the growth of natural flora in your mouth. It is advisable to have a cup of yogurt at least once daily.
  • Dab the lip piercing with a clean piece of cloth soaked in warm water twice daily.
  • Sea Salt: Make a solution using sea salt and water. Gargle with it at least three or four times a day, especially after meal times. You can also use a saline solution from the store. DO NOT use too much salt as it can cause dryness.
  • You could also use any antibacterial (alcohol-free) mouthwash instead.
  • Warm Compress: Dip a clean cloth in some hot water and wring out the excess liquid. Gently dab this compress on to the infected area for a few minutes. Repeat this exercise twice a day

It is advisable to continue with treatment even after the infection has healed.  During this period you should avoid smoking, alcohol drinking, and other unhealthy practices.

How to Clean an Infected Lip Piercing

We have discussed how to heal an infected lip piercing. We are going to discuss on how to clean it so as to avoid further spread and make healing faster. Below are steps to be followed when cleaning an infected lip piercing?

  1. Wash your hands before you touch or begin cleaning your pierced area as this will reduce the chances of getting re-infected.
  2. Using an antibacterial mouthwash that is alcohol-free, clean the area around your piercing twice a day. This will help in the clean of the piercing from inside your mouth.
  3. On the outside part of your mouth, you can use warm water and an anti-bacterial soap.
  4. Finally, keep your lip jewelry very clean all the times as this will enhance the healing speed after it has been infected.


Here are safety tips and precautions to consider when treating an infected lip piercing.

  • DO NOT touch your piercing unnecessarily like spinning your jewelry, scratching or removing scabs.
  • Avoid spicy foods. They cause irritation which can force you to pick on the piercing
  • Don’t remove your piercing. It helps to drain out fluid and hasten the healing process
  • Avoid alcohol and cigarettes, they slow down the healing process
  • Do not apply anything on the infected lip piercing unless advised so by a doctor or professional.

Note: Once you notice you have an infection, it is not recommended to remove the lip piercing jewelry. Infection may set in and get trapped in the piercing hole. Consult a specialist before making such a decision.




  1. hi, my daughter had the inside of her lip pierced 4 months ago. Is it safe to take out the piercing? Has it healed? I would like her to close the piercing (it was done without me knowing) but want to do it safely.
    Please advise.

    Thank you.

  2. Hi Carol… Thank you for getting back to us. It takes several weeks to months for a lip piercing to heal completely.

    A piercing that is four months old is fully healed. The cells in the piercing toughen up, they smooth out and seal. This makes it very easy to move the jewelry in and out without any pain. Once this stage is complete, closure after removal of the jewelry will take some time. And yes, it is safe to remove jewelry to allow for closure.
    It is also important to note that there is a possibility of scar formation after closure. This is normal. It will fade off and will become invincible with time. I hope this helps.

  3. hey, my daughter recently got her lip pierced last monday and its already infected. she has been doing everything the piercer told her to do. She is now very worried. It only started a day ago. what would help her best? please advise . thank you

  4. Once the infection sets in, it is wise to visit a doctor so that he can prescribe the necessary medication which may include antibiotics and pain relievers. In the mean time, continue with cleaning…
    Do not squeeze it (squeeze pus from the piercing) using your fingers as this will only make things worse.

    Do not spin or take out an infected lip ring since you might develop abscess as the infection gets trapped in the pierced hole. Furthermore, your jewelry will be important in ensuring the infection drains.

    Do not use any antibiotic applications without the doctor’s recommendation.

  5. Hi I just got a lip piercing not even two days ago I’m noticing small redness outside and a small whitish circle inside at the piercing. Are these signs of infection?

  6. Hi.. i had my lip pierced about 2 month ago always cleaned it daily i went to clean it last night and it was abit sore i cleaned it with sea salt and warm water and i rinse with antibacterial mouthwash after brushing teeth.. i walk up at 3 am it was very swollen like i had busted my lip and when i slightley moved the bar a little bit of white stuff came out.. i wiped it away with warm water and rinced with mouth wash.. any ideas what to do please mostly sore at the back but doesnt look red

  7. I just got my lip pierced Monday and my mom made take I just took it out saw an infection but I never saw it with the jewellery IDK if I should put it back in or not and there no sign

  8. Hey ya’ll, ummm i just got my lip pierced last week and um now my lip looks sooo sick. My lip is swollen and ah the ring ball kinda went in (half way in). Itbis starting to dissappear in my lips. Am pretty worried right now. My chin looks a bit swollen and yeah it hurts. Please help me ger rid of this swelling.

  9. Hi Kalesi.You need to see a doctor. The swelling should have gone down in a week. Have the piercing examined for infection and get proper treatment in case of one.

  10. Hi Janet. What symptoms do you have? Is it swollen? Is it oozing? Please take pictures. And if you have any doubts, do not keep quiet about it. Untreated piercing infections are one way to get those permanent piercing scars. Talk to your mum about it. She will surely take you to a doctor to have it checked.

  11. Hello Stacey. I would recommend that you have the piercer check if the bar used was the right size. Secondly, avoid practices that will cause irritation to the piercing. Clean well after smoking, avoid hot spicy foods and use ice to relieve the pain and soreness. Then… do not go overboard with the cleaning. Twice a day (morning and evening) is fine unless you smoke or drink regularly. I hope this helps. And… please take pictures.

  12. Is it painful? Is it sore? Is it swollen? Does it ooze or is the whitish circle a crust? Redness and clear to whitish or formation of a crusty discharge and part of the healing process but should get better within a week or so.

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