Nipple piercings are a tried and true body alteration that acts as art or to help increase sensitivity.

These piercings, like all other body modifications, can become infected. Don’t worry, though. There are plenty of things that you can do to avoid getting a nipple piercing infection. You also have options for treating an infection should one appear.

Nipple Piercings Are Prone to Infection

The reality is that nipple piercings are notorious for being vulnerable to infections. Your nipples have tissue that connects to milk ducts. The area below your nipple and areola is sensitive by design. That makes nipple piercing holes extra vulnerable to the multitudes of body bacteria.

Another reason nipple piercing infections are common is longer healing times. Your piercings will take 4 to 12 months to heal. Longer healing times mean your body is open to infection for longer periods.

Why Does My Nipple Piercing Keep Getting Infected?

  • If you do not keep your piercing clean as it heals, it will become infected.
  • Too much touching is also the top cause of nipple piercing infections. The hands are home to multitudes of bacteria, dirt, and other matter that can cause issues.
  • Damaged skin at the piercing site can also create infections. That usually happens from clothing snagging on your nipple jewelry.
  • Due to the length of healing time, fluids from the body can also cause infections. That includes things like saliva.

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Nipple Piercing Infection Symptoms and Signs

What does an infected nipple piercing look like?

  • Piercing is hot. If your piercing site feels hot to the touch or hurts, there might be a problem.
  • Site is painful.
  • Rash or swelling. Developing a rash or swelling around the piercing hole are other infection signs.
  • Colored discharge or bad odors. Brown, green, and yellow discharge are often infection-related. Strong odors near the piercing hole are another indicator to pay attention to.
  • Body aches/fatigue/fever.

If you are unsure about self-diagnosing an infection, consult your primary care physician.

Infected Nipple Piercing Treatment

How to treat an infected nipple piercing? Follow these instructions to stop nipple piercing infection.

1. Warm Compress

Before cleaning, you might consider using a warm compress on your nipple piercing. The moist heat will penetrate the tissue in and around the hole, helping improve drainage. Doing this before you clean also prevents having to clean twice.

2. Clean the Infected Nipple Piercing

The best way to get rid of infection is to perform the right aftercare. This involves cleaning your piercing at least twice a day.

Your piercer may give you a piercing aftercare spray, or, you can make a saline solution at home by dissolving ¼ teaspoon of sea salt into 1 cup of warm water.

As an alternative, you can also use antiseptic solutions, such as betadine, isopropyl alcohol, or diluted hydrogen peroxide.

3. Sea Salt Soak

Apart from cleaning the piercing, a sea salt soak helps too. Use a sea salt solution consisting of 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt per cup of water. Doing both for at least five minutes twice a day can produce positive results. Adequate wound drainage aids in healing and can even prevent infections from forming.

4. Use Antibiotics

Your healthcare provider may suggest topical antibiotics, oral antibiotics, or both. The type of antibiotic will depend on the severity and the bacteria targeted.

For example, your doctor may recommend topical products like Bacitracin or Mupirocin. Some oral prescriptions used include Cephalexin and Clindamycin. It’s worth noting that some (OTC) over-the-counter creams and ointments can trap bacteria on the skin, and they should be avoided.

How to Clean an Infected Nipple Piercing?

  1. Wash your hands. Start things off by washing your hands; it won’t do much good to clean the area if your hands are dirty.
  2. Lightly wash the area. Next, use a piercing aftercare spray, a homemade sea salt solution, or a soap designed for sensitive skin or wound cleaning, like Hibiclens. Clean around the piercing hole gently to prevent further skin damage or irritation. Rinse with water.
  3. Pat dry. Pat down the area to dry off your nipple piercing
  4. Cover the piercing area. Cover your piercing with loose, snag-free clothing to prevent more irritation while healing.

Some things should not be used when cleaning an infected nipple piercing.

You will want to avoid harsh cleaners that can cause more irritation to your piercing. They may create more tissue damage and will extend the healing process. That includes things like alcohol, detergents, harsh cleaners, and hydrogen peroxide.

If My Nipple Piercing Is Infected Should I Take It Out?

No. You should avoid removing your jewelry from the infected nipple piercing. The jewelry helps by keeping the piercing hole open. If you remove it, the piercing hole can close up, preventing drainage. Removing your jewelry can make the infection worse.

How Long Does a Nipple Piercing Infection Take To Heal?

Catching an infection early makes it easier to treat. Your infection can heal completely in two weeks or less. Check with your doctor, especially if they prescribe antibiotics. If you continue to have symptoms after three weeks of antibiotic treatment, seek additional medical help immediately.

How to Prevent Nipple Piercing Infection?

1. Use a Professional Piercing Technician

The first step to avoiding a potential infection is to get your piercing done professionally. They should have a clean studio that separates piercings from tattoo areas. Proper hygiene practices like gloves, autoclave cleaning, and hand washing should be routine. Technicians should refuse to pierce pregnant or lactating clients and offer post-piercing support.

2. Follow All Aftercare Instructions Provided

Another way you can prevent infections is to follow all aftercare instructions. The shop you use will offer an aftercare sheet or packet with lots of valuable information. Follow these instructions and you can avoid many infection pitfalls.

3. Use Safe Metals Like Implant-Grade Titanium

Types of Nipple Piercings

Ashley Piercing Jewelry implant-grade titanium nipple piercing bar $22.9, SHOP NOW.

Selecting the proper metals can help avoid issues with your nipple piercing. Use only implant-grade titanium jewelry whenever possible.  They are hypoallergenic and much less likely to cause infection. With titanium, use jewelry pieces rated at compliance at ASTM F-136 ELI.

If you opt for implant-grade steel, look for jewelry with compliance of ASTM F-138.

4. Avoid Touching Your Nipple Piercing

You need to leave your piercing alone while it heals. Avoid too much handling with your (or others) hands, and mouths or tongues should be a no-no until fully healed.

To Conclude

With a little care and patience, your new nipple piercing will heal in a short time. Should you experience one or more infection setbacks, consult your doctor. Following post-piercing instructions will go a long way toward avoiding issues. The sooner you heal, the sooner you can enjoy the sensory and visual aspects of this unique body modification.

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