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.

  13. I got my lip pierced for the second time (first time was two snake bites second was another to make shark bites) and one of the older ones that’s about a year and a half old is getting infected I think. The hole on the inside has spread out quite a bit and is turning a bit yellow but there are no other symptoms besides a lot of pain (I also have a mouth sore almost directly under it) I’ve been swishing with salt water and taking a ton of ibuprofen but the minor swelling won’t really go down. It feels stiff. There is no puss or blood. Just a yellow large hole on the inside. The outside has no problem.

  14. I just pierced my lip. It swelled 10x the size it should be. After about 4 hours it started bleeding and swelling More. To the point that the stud went through my lip. Help?!

  15. Mydad pierced my lip and now its all dcabbed up and swollen and super sore. And there is pus on the inside of my lip. And it hurts to move it around. And i can barley chew food or smoke a cigarette without being in ci stant lain please help me.

  16. Hi Destiney… Have you tried sea salt washes? And how long since the lip piercing? If you have tried salt rinses without improvement, please get it checked by a GP. Ask your dad to take you to a doctor. You might be in need of antibiotic treatment.

  17. Hey Tequila. Swelling and bleeding are normal after piercing… though the bleeding should not be heavy. A new piercing may bleed on and off for a few days. This is normal and not necessarily indicative of a complication. Swelling makes the first stages of healing. It may last 3-5 days. You can help reduce the swelling by gently sucking on ice. This will also help with pain and soreness. Please let us know if this helps. All the best.

  18. Hello, I have gotten my lip pierced a week ago and the professional where I got my lip done gave me a plastic brace to use when I go to work. Today i noticed when putting in the brace there is a bump on my lip. I dunno if it’s the bar part or an infection is ready to form. My lip isn’t hurting when I touch it, no redness, but clear fluid comes out when I remove the bar. I do sanitize the bar before putting it in my lip and clean my lip. What can it be. Someone help. Also my lips get chap more now, why?

  19. It’s been 4 weeks since I had my lip done it has been doing great now it’s hurting a little not bad but my lip ring did get caught on food could it just be sore not infected

  20. Hi I just had my piercing yesterday, it is swollen up but not super red. The ball on the end had fallen off and I had to put it back on. Once it was back in place my lip swelled up a bit more and has some pain. It also had a tiny bit of (I wouldn’t say pus) yellowish white stickyness almost like an eye booger. I’m not sure if it’s infected or it’s just normal

  21. I have a lip piercing and in the inside of my mouth my skin grow over the piercing and now I have a infection what can I do I have had my lip ring for over 2 and half years

  22. So I got my Monroe piercing about 4 weeks ago and at first it got swollen and it was hurting but in the last week and is gone down and the swelling went down as well. But this morning I wake up and the area around the ring is super hard and swollen but it does not hurt but it has swollen up so much it’s going around the bottom of the piercing is this normal?

  23. I got my lip pierced about a week ago and now the inside of the piercing there had formed a layet around and I can’t move it inside my mouth the layer is slightly white. The outside the O’s a red ring around the ball and it slightly burns I told my piercer and he says it’s normal but I’m worried it’s infected

  24. Hey I got my lip pierced 2 weeks ago and it has got infected and I wanted to know what would happen if I was moving it around and it got inside

  25. Hi so i just got my lip pierced on thursday and it is now monday, it is still in pain and their is skin over laping the front and back of the piercing. Its still swollen to. Help! Is it infected? Should i go to the piercer? Im really scared and worried.

  26. Okay so my lip looks kind of like the picture above but nothing coming out just tore on the inside. I just recently noticed it.. I am a bit nervous about this and when I try to mess with it, I have pain at the bottom of it like wayy below it.. I’m sure it’s nothing but I just wanted to ask!!

  27. I have crust around my jewelry and a white circle around the piercing what does that mean?

  28. Hi Taylor. Your lip piercing is undergoing the normal healing process. It is okay to be swollen the first few days after a piercing. That is why it is recommended to have a longer bar on to allow for the swelling. As long as there is no discharge of pus and severe pain, give it a few days, it should be better in 3 days, even better in a week and so on.

    A yellowish or whitish fluid is also normal within the first few days. This is lymph discharge. I wish you well.

  29. Kindly have it checked by a doctor in case there is a need to get a prescription for antibiotics, then consult with your piercer on the best tips for lip piercing care.

  30. Hi Christina. First of all, how old is the piercing? If it is in the first week, its normal to notice a whitish or yellowish fluid that crusts up. This is lymph drainage and its a part of the healing process.

    Salt rinses may help to soften up the crusts for easy removal. DO NOT force them out!

    Formation of a scab is a normal stage in the second phase of healing (usually, anytime after two weeks since you had the piercing done). The piercing may feel harder to touch.Tissue layers add up to the piercing hole to make it more permanent (just like any other wound forms scar tissue). I hope this helps. Cheers!!

  31. Hey Amanda. I hope you are doing better. Kindly have your piercing checked by a body piercer. And please do not mess with it. Keep your hands off and when you do, wash your hands with antibacterial soap (before and after).

  32. Hey Ari. I am sorry that this comes late. I hope you got some help. A lip piercing may still be in pain up to two weeks or more after the piercing (depending on your aftercare practice). the overlapping skin means that it is still swollen.The first stage of healing which takes up to two weeks presents with symptoms such as pain, tenderness, bleeding, yellowish/whitish crust, itching and bruising. If the pain is mild and there is no pus discharge, then it is not infected. But, just to be sure, it is okay to have it checked.

    You will be okay.

  33. Hi there, I have done some hard research for the answer to my question. I’m Black African American and I know everyone Body is different. I’ve had my Monroe piercing for a week and 5 days. I have no swelling, no pain, no bleeding or anything. My problem is I still get the crustiness around my piercing but there’s a dark circle(sore) as well. It always stays dry. I use all the proper aftercare that required and I still have the black sore around it. Is that normal? Will my skin eventually look back to its normal color? I really hope I get the answer to my question.

  34. Hi i haf my lip pierced since Wednesday and it has a bit of yellow and clear discharges coming out and im a bit worried about it and down the a bit sollown and it has a red ring around the piercing

  35. I had my vertical labret done 2 1/2 months ago. About half way through the healing process there seemed to be some excess scar tissue growing around the upper portion (the top ball going through my actual lip). It went away for about 2 weeks so I thought it was done, but it recently started happening again this week. Is it an infection? And if so how do I get rid of it again? (Not sure how it went away the first time but during that time there was no lymph, swelling or redness)

  36. Hi. I just got my lip pierced (medusa) on Saturday. I woke up today to it being very swollen only the middle. The back of the ring is leaving and imprint on the inside of my lip and it looks like I was punched in the mouth. There is no puss or anything but it does hurt and I can feel my heart beat in it. Is it ok.

  37. Hi I got my lip pierced (snake bites) yesterday and I have been making sure I use salt and warm water solutions after eating and mouth wash. I found a red dot that formed a few hours ago and I’m kinda worried if it’s infected or anything like that. This is my first piercing other than ear piercings do I’m kinda paranoid about it. Any info to help?

  38. Hi, I got snake bites just 3 days ago and yesterday one of the beads came off and I lost it, I had to go buy a new bead because i knew not to take the bar off but I couldn’t find any that fit the bar so I had to remove my bar (I couldn’t hold it in since I couldn’t really talk and I needed to go to school) and switch it for a ring which was heavier than my other bar… it turned my lip purple and it bothered me a lot, as soon as I could I took it out and put the first bar in with a new bead. My lip is not purple anymore and i have minor pain when I eat. Thing is that there’s a red spot around the piercing there’s yellow “eye boogers” stuck to it, I know taking my bar out and switching it back and forth was very risky but I had no other choice, is this normal or is it the cause of me taking the bar out just 2 days after getting it?

  39. I got my lip pierced about 4 weeks ago now, it’s been fine since, but Sunday morning when I woke up it was swollen but wasn’t bad, now the swelling is worse, and the inside part of the bar has sunk into my lip, and it’s really painful I’ve been in tears and I’ve been having trouble eating, what do I do?

  40. Hi I just got my lip piercing on Wednesday and now my lip is so swollen it looks like someone hit me I follow all the aftercare instructions and now my inside of my lip is almost covering the back of my piercing the swelling is really bad and there’s whitish fluid to is it infected

  41. Just got my lip piecered and it’s starting to crust is that normal. There is no pain or anything.

  42. Hi Keyli…

    Massive lip swelling is one of the commonest symptoms the first few days after a lip piercing. Do not worry, the swelling will subside at least before the first week ends. Drainage of yellowish whitish fluid is also normal. Watch out for symptoms such as severe pain, foul-smelling discharge and persistent fever.

  43. Hi i recently got a verticle labret done, and the upper part of the piercing is starting to get a little white/yellow, it is swollen but doesnt hurt. im afraid it could be infected but im not too sure, please tell me what i should do to heal it. thanks

  44. Okay so I got my snakebites done at different times.The first one did fine,but the second one is sore and has a white hump around my hoop.It has let out white discharge and is only sore when I put pressure on it.I have had it for about three months and the symptoms didn’t start until a month ago.What is going on?

  45. I got my vertical Labret pierced about 5 days ago, its still quite swollen and it’s starting to crust from whitish yellow discharge. However it does not have a foul smell and cleans away quite easily with salt water solution. I’ve been icing and pain killers is this just a normal healing process or am I in risk of infection?

  46. Hi I got my lip pierce about 6 or 7 months ago and its now starting to hurt like it did when I first pierced it I did not get it pierced professionaly I did it my self in a safe spot and it was all cleansed right I don’t think this has anything to to with the lip hurting and it has the scab like thing on the outside but nothing wrong in the inside I would like to understand this and how to stop it please and thank you

  47. Hi everyone I had my lip pierced last September and it’s swollen it feels like a knot inside and on the top of my lip when I took the bar out it started oozing. What should I do??

  48. Hey, got my lip pierced 4 days ago and I’m not having any symptoms of infection other than an odorless yellowish green discharge. It only hurts when It is moved. Is this normal? Do I have an Infection?

  49. I am on day 6 after getting my lip pierced. This morning I woke up and it was far more swollen then it has been the last few days and my lymph nodes in my neck on the same side I have the piercing is sore. I don’t have any discharge, but it has been forming crust on the outside. The ball on the inside of my lip is slightly embedded into my lip and within the whole, there is a little white. I constantly eat ice, Popsicles, and yogurt to try to reduce the swelling. I did this for 30 minutes before bed and woke up to a far more swollen lip. I am not sure if this is normal or if there is anything I need to do? I clean the outside with Dial Antibacterial bar soap and the inside with Biotene. Please HELP!! I don’t have health insurance so if it may be infected, I can’t go to a doctor. I have been taking Ibuprofen 800mg twice a day as well. Also, how would I know if I was allergic to the bar? Thank you!

  50. Apologies for the delay. We had some technical issues. I’m sure your lip has settled down by now but for anyone else in a similar situation I hope the following advice is useful. It sounds more likely to be simply that your issue is irritation rather than infection. If your piercing is red, swollen right around the hole, peeling, excreting white or yellow fluid (but not foul smelling), bleeding slightly, or as in your case it seems to have a solid (not fluid-filled) bump around the jewellery, it is probably just irritated.

    Irritation can happen if you keep touching or playing with your piercing – or if you clean it too much! Leave it alone for a few days and the swelling should go down. In the meantime, warm salt water soaks will work well to help soothe that painful piercing and keep the irritation from getting worse. If it isn’t getting any better after a few more days you should ask a doctor or pharmacist for advice.

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