Piercings all over the body have the risk of being infected if not given the proper aftercare. The risk of infection or other complications goes up with nipple piercings given that they go into a part of the body made up of a heavy network of ducts and sensitive tissues.
It is thus one of the riskiest piercings to get as you will be bringing a foreign body next to sensitive tissue.
If you want to have a nipple piercing, or already have one, the information in the following sections will be of great benefit in identifying, treating and preventing an infection of the nipple piercing.
What is a nipple piercing infection?
Right after you have had a piercing of the nipple, you will feel some level of pain. This pain will subside after a few hours to a few days. The nipple may also be sore for a while until the piercing made has been fully healed.
At times, the nipple may become inflamed and red in color. This can be caused by itching or touching the piercing too much. The solution to this will be refraining from touching the area often. As a matter of fact, simply avoid touching the area as much as you can.
In other times, the piercing may exhibit a group of symptoms and signs that will tell you that it has an infection.
You will know that the piercing is infected if you see any of the following signs and symptoms:
- The pierced area is highly sensitive to touch and is painful.
- The pierced area is hot to the touch.
- The site of the piercing may be swollen as well.
- A discharge with a brown, green or yellow color comes out of the piercing.
- There may be an unpleasant smell at the site of the piercing.
- Body aches.
- A bump on the piercing oozing pus
- A rash.
Be sure to note the color of the discharge since it is quite difficult to tell it apart from the clear fluid that normally comes out of a piercing. Given the small amounts of the fluid, its color may be easy to miss.
Once you notice any of these symptoms, pay your piercer and doctor visits to ensure nothing is amiss.
The infection may be caused an assortment of issues among them the following:
- Use of unsterilized equipment by the piercer. The equipment may be plainly dirty or it may carry over germs from their previous person it was used on.
- The piercer may not have cleaned their hands well before working on you. In most cases, surgical gloves are to be used for any kind of piercing.
- You may have used dirty or poor-quality jewelry. Materials such as nickel often irritate the body thus increasing the chances of infections as you will be nudged to touch the area often.
- You may have touched the area without washing your hands beforehand thus transferring germs to it.
- The pierced nipple may have come into contact with dirty water such as when you take a swim or other such activity.
- The use of some soaps and body grooming products may also cause the same kind of infection.
- Some clothing materials may have chemicals put in by the manufacturer that may irritate the piercing leading to infection through touching.
Any of these conditions will lead to the infection of the piercing made on your nipple.
When you have one of these piercings, you are likely to experience one or a combination of the following:
- Nerve damage
- Keloid formation
- Issues with breastfeeding
- Heart valve infection
- Problems with medical procedures
- Bloodstream infection
These risks are much higher than those associated with any other type of piercing in the body. This calls for the ultimate care for the piercing if you decide to get one.
Treatment and healing
Once you notice that the piercing made on your nipple has been infected, you should refrain from cutting, poking or pinching the area to squeeze out the pus. You’ll only be making the issue worse. Rather, focus on the following to help it heal faster:
Do not remove the jewelry
The moment you notice that the nipple has been infected, avoid removing the jewelry until the piercer decides to do so. The reason for this is that the presence of the jewelry makes it easy to drain the fluid in the piercing created in the case of an infection.
Also, if you remove the jewelry, the hole created could easily become sealed with fluids and germs making it hard to open it again with a new kind of piercing.
Thus, unless the cause of the infection is the type of jewelry inserted, avoid removing it at all costs.
Aftercare and cleaning it
The piercer should tell you what to do and what not to do to stay away from infections. That involves:
- Using the right type of jewelry
- Not touching the pierced area easily
- The proper ways of cleaning it
- What products to use to clean it
And many other things.
Avoid creams and ointments
The creams and ointments you may buy over the counter may only make the area more conducive to bacteria and other microorganisms which increase the chances of further infections. If you are to use any ointments or creams, go for the ones your doctor has recommended.
A warm compress entails dipping a piece of cloth in warm water, rinsing the excess water out then pressing the cloth in the affected area. This method helps in improving the drainage of the area as it improves on the circulation.
This prevents the formation of pus in the area pierced.
Most of the infections are caused by bacteria, fungi and viruses. All of these microorganisms can be dealt with with the right antibiotics. The most important things you need to know of is the actual cause of the infection.
If you make the mistake of simply buying medicine over the counter without any prescription from a knowledgeable person, you will likely treat the wrong thing. Most bacterial, fungal and viral infections share symptoms hence the need to find the actual cause before the antibiotics are administered.
A piercing on the body requires careful cleaning since the conventional ways will only serve to make issue worse. First of all, wash your hands with soap then dry them with a dry piece of cloth, or with warm air.
After that, find the right cleaning liquid to rinse the area. You can use surgical spirit since it causes no pain unlike methylated spirit, or a sea salt solution or any other recommended products. You should avoid the following liquids for this purpose:
- Iodine (even in iodized sea salt)
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Harsh soaps and cleansers
These products will tend to irritate the pierced area making it hard to heal.
When you decide to get the nipple piercing, have a checklist of some aspects before you go ahead with it. These include:
- The reputation of the piercer
- The costs involved
- The risks involved
- The aftercare
- The jewelry to use
And many other aspects. In this way, you will be making an informed decision whose consequences you are ready to have.
A point to note is that the likelihood of having an infection with a nipple piercing are almost equal between men and women. This is because, in both men and women, the structure of the breast is the same. It is just that men’s breasts are more solid to women’s due to exercise and other factors.