antibiotics for infected piercing | Important Points

Antibiotics for Infected Piercing

A body piercing, whether it’s on the ear, nose, navel, tongue or other parts of the body, is a kind of body modification that is becoming more and more popular among individuals. Piercing shops are popping up everywhere and for the most part, people are enjoying the experience. However, it all comes with a risk, especially when infection develops. If you have a newly pierced jewelry on your body, and you feel a warm, red, and swollen area around it, or you’re experiencing bleeding or discharge, it might be a sign of an infection.

When your piercing gets infected, it’s essential to immediately take an action to prevent further complications. One of the possible treatments is antibiotics. But, before you get into the details of how antibiotics can assist, learn more about piercing infections first.

Piercing Infections

A piercing is a wound that occurs when a needle pokes through the skin and forms a hole. Unlike surgical wounds, piercing wounds remain open and are continuously exposed to the environment, becoming prone to bacterial infections. Infection happens when harmful bacteria enter your body through the opening on your skin. Piercing infections come in several degrees.

Mild Infection. A mild infection is characterized by redness, tenderness, and a little swelling around the piercing site. Yellow or green discharge may also seep from the pierced hole. This type of infection is relatively easy to treat, and it rarely causes severe consequences.

Moderate Infection. Just like in mild infection, when the infection is moderate, you may feel the same symptoms; however, it’s more intense. The inflammation is severe and typically spreads beyond the area surrounding the piercing. There’s a higher chance that a pus-filled boil (abscess) will develop.

Severe Infection. This type of infection, though rare, is the most dangerous. The symptoms are intense, and the wound becomes almost unbearable. You will experience severe pain, the inflammation is unbearable, and the pus-filled boil is enormous. There’s a high chance that the infection may spread to other organs in your body, causing a systemic infection.

Antibiotics for Infected Piercing

If you suspect that you have an infected piercing, don’t hesitate to seek advice from a doctor or a piercing specialist. They will be able to understand what type of infection you’re suffering from and recommend the most appropriate treatment.

For mild and moderate infections, cleaning your piercing with saline solution and adopting proper cleaning techniques can help get rid of the bacteria. However, if this doesn’t work, antibiotics might be the next step. Antibiotics are medications that are commonly used to treat various bacterial infections, including piercing infections.

It’s essential to remember that antibiotics are not a cure-all; there are different kinds of antibiotics that work only against specific types of bacteria, and they can’t treat viral, fungal, or other types of infections.

Antibiotics for piercing infections can be given in various ways. They can be taken orally (by mouth) or applied topically (on the skin). Here are some examples of antibiotics that are commonly prescribed for piercing infections:

Oral Antibiotics

Oral antibiotics are taken directly into the bloodstream. These antibiotics are more potent than topical antibiotics and are usually given to treat moderate to severe piercing infections, or to help prevent systemic infection.

Amoxicillin. Amoxicillin is a type of penicillin antibiotic that is used to treat various bacterial infections, including piercing infections. Doctors may prescribe amoxicillin for people who have moderate to severe infections, such as cellulitis.

Cephalexin. Cephalexin is a type of cephalosporin antibiotic that is usually prescribed for mild to moderate piercing infections. This antibiotic is known to fight against staphylococcal bacteria, which is the most common cause of bacterial infections in piercing wounds.

Topical Antibiotics

Topical antibiotics are applied directly to the surface of the skin, and they usually come in the form of creams, ointments, or gels. Topical antibiotics are suitable for treating mild to moderate infections, but they may not be sufficient for severe infections.

Mupirocin. Mupirocin is a type of antibiotic ointment that is used to treat mild to moderate bacterial infections. It is a unique ointment as it has a bactericidal effect, preventing the bacteria from spreading and multiplying.

Gentamicin. Gentamicin is an antibiotic cream that is used to kill certain types of bacteria. It’s known for being used in a variety of topical agents because of its efficacy in killing bacteria.

These antibiotics usually have to be taken for a certain amount of time to make sure the infection doesn’t happen again. So, always follow the instructions of your doctor or pharmacist. If you stop taking antibiotics too early, the infection may return and become even worse.


Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to piercings. Here are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of getting a piercing infection:

Choose a reputable and professional piercing shop that follows proper hygiene protocols.

Ensure that the person doing your piercing is licensed and certified by a professional piercing organization.

Clean and disinfect your piercing site regularly, using saline solutions (1 tsp of sea salt dissolved in 1 cup of distilled water) or an antibacterial soap.

Don’t touch your piercing with dirty hands; wash your hands before and after touching your piercing.

Avoid swimming in a pool, hot tub, or ocean while you have a newly pierced piercing.

If you think your piercing is infected, act right away to prevent the infection from getting worse.


Body piercings can be a fun and artistic way of expressing one’s personalities, but they carry a risk of infection. To avoid piercing infections, choosing a reputable piercer and adhering to aftercare procedures is paramount. However, if you do develop an infection despite your best efforts, quick action and the guidance of a professional can go a long way in treating your infection. Antibiotics can be effective in treating piercing infections but only if they are prescribed at the right time and used as directed. If you happen to have a piercing infection, reach out to your doctor or piercer as soon as possible.

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