Last updated on November 6th, 2017
Do you have an infected belly button piercing? What are some of the signs and symptoms you expect to have? Learn more about causes, symptoms, care tips, cleaning, healing or how to treat the infection as well as see some photos.
A pierced navel which is also known as belly button piercing can add charm to your belly button especially if you have a toned flat stomach you want to show off. However, if these if are not taken good care of, they could get infections and be troublesome. This does not apply to new piercing only since there are many cases of infections after 6 months or even after years when it had completely healed.
- Infection rate, risks, and dangers
- Is my belly button piercing infected – causes
- Signs and symptoms of an infection
- Pictures, Images, and photos
- Belly piercing infection during pregnancy or while pregnant
- Treating, curing or healing pierced navel infections
- Infected belly button piercing with bubble and bumps
- How to cleaning how to clean the infected area?
- General care tips and ideas
- When to see a doctor
Infection rate, risks, and dangers
The location of the navel, being in a dark and damp place, infections can be common especially if your navel is very deep. You expect to sweat as well as various substances to be deposited on your navel and pierced site.
Despite all these, the infected navel piercing rate is fairly high i.e. in American, pierced navels are the most common accounting for about 33%. “Unfortunately, 31% of them have complications, 15.2% needed outpatient consultation, and 0.9% were even hospitalized for treatment” [howshealth.com].
In terms of risks, is the next most risky piercing after the eye as the navel piercing hole can be a gateway for infections reaching your abdominal cavities. As steadyhealth.com reports, “It is risky because needles used to pierce the skin can spread infections” because the ring will always touch your clothing.
Furthermore, there are inherent risks of injuries, scars, keloid formation, rejection, stretch from weight gain or pregnancy, among other minor discomforts.
The most common causes of pierced navel infections include bacteria and allergic reactions. Fungi, yeast, and another pathogenic microorganism can also cause infections. These pathogens will tend to thrive if you create a favorable environment such as not cleaning your piercing regularly, touching it with dirty hands, poor personal hygiene, injuries, unsterilized equipment, wrong jewelry (in terms of size or material that cause allergies), among other things.
On average, a pierced belly button will take between 9 months to a year or even up to two years to heal completely. During this healing time, especially during the first few weeks, due diligence needs to be taken to avoid getting the infection. Follow the provided aftercare routine religiously and you will not have any of the problems, risks, and dangers associated with this piercing type.
Signs and symptoms of an infection
When your pierced belly button gets an infection, you will expect some signs and symptoms. Depending on the cause of your infection, you will experience a number of signs and symptoms. Some of the common signs include:
- Tender, red and swollen navel pierced site
- Discharge and pus oozing out especially yellowish or greenish pus (cellulitis) that can have a foul smell
- Abscess formation if your the site has poor drainage
- Presence of bumps and bubbles
- Skin discoloration if the infection goes to a more advanced stage
- Bleeding in some cases
- Aching, throbbing pain and hot feeling when you touch the area
- Itchy rashes around the site
- An enlarged pierced hole
- Fever, stomach upsets, vomiting, and dizziness
These are not the only signs. The moment you notice anything abnormal or causing discomfort on your pierced belly button, find out what could be behind the discomfort.
Note that swelling, tenderness, aching, mild bleeding and redness might be normal for new piercings. However, they should last for the first few days after you have had your procedure.
Pictures, Images, and photos
To strengthen our case on signs and symptoms, we have included pictures in this article. This images, photos or pictures are meant to further help you identify if you truly have an infection or not.
These photos should be important in helping you visualize how an infected one may lool like.
Belly piercing infection during pregnancy or while pregnant
If you are pregnant and you have a navel piercing, you can still wear it until your 5th or 6th month of pregnancy. After that, you need to remove it. Alternatively, the moment you see your stomach skin beginning to stretch much due to your pregnancy, you should consider removing the jewelry.
Once you give birth, do not start wearing it after you postpartum. Give yourself a couple of months before you can begin having it again.
Furthermore, you can also have an infection during pregnancy. Ensure you get early treatment since some medications cannot be taken while you are pregnant. In case you have an infected navel while pregnant, seek medical advice from your doctor before taking any of the medications that might be available to avoid dangerous side effects.
In this part, we are going to discuss the various ways to treat an infected belly piercing. They will include treatments, home remedies as well as medications to heal an infected belly button piercing. Ignoring an infected piercing can cause sepsis where the infection spreads to your blood. So what to do you do or how do you get rid of infections?
1. Sea salt soak (use of saline solution)
The first way to heal an infection is to use saline solution which you can prepare at home by adding a half a teaspoon of sea salt to a cup of warm water. These solutions can then be used in cleaning the infected piercing. Salt soak will be able to fight minor infections at their initial stages as well as stop new infections.
2. Use oral antibiotics
The second popular way to treat it is by using prescribed antibiotics. This means you have to see a doctor first for a prescription. The doctor will be in the best position to advise you on which oral antibiotics or tropical antibiotics you can use. Tropical antibiotic creams commonly used include polymyxin B, bacitracin or Mupirocin.
Oral antibiotics are often recommended in an instance when the infection has spread beyond the pierced site and it is caused by bacteria. It is always a good idea to first see a doctor because at times, you could be thinking it is an infection yet it could be a navel a rejection.
3. Pain relieving medications
If your navel piercing aches badly or causes a lot of pain, you can get a few non-prescribed medication (OTC) to help ease the pain as you continue with the treatment process. Try Acetaminophen, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Naproxen and Ibuprofen. Aspirin being a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug will also be helpful.
4. Apply cold pack
In case your infected belly button ring is bruised and swollen, apply a cold pack wrapped in a towel. Applying an ice directly on your navel can damage tissues. This will help reduce the bruising and swelling.
5. Warm Compresses
Besides treatments, you can try some of the good home remedies. One of such home remedy you should try is applying warm compresses. Using a clean pierce of cloth, apply warm compresses on the infected area. Do this for about 5 minutes, several times a day. This will ensure proper drainage and quicken the healing process and it will increase blood flow to the navel.
6. Tea tree oil, lavender or emu oil
Tee tree oil, emu oil, and lavender oil have natural healing agents you should give a try. You can apply a few drops of these oils especially after you have cleaned the site. This will ensure faster healing. Zinc, vitamin C, and D will also speed up the healing process.
7. Do not remove infected belly ring or jewelry
To reduce chances of getting an abscess which – “is a collection of pus that has built up within the tissue of the body” [Wikipedia] due to the piercing closing, do not remove your jewelry. You can only remove it upon recommendation by a professional healthcare or piercer especially when they notice that the infection is spreading or severe.
8. Avoid using any ointments
Going on with treatments, there is a big temptation of using over the counter antibiotic ointments on your piercing. Desist from using ointments since they tend to cause clogs, as well as trap bacteria that might be causing the infection.
When this happens, the healing process slows down and the infection might worsen or begin spreading to nearby areas. However, according to webmd.com, the “use of an antibiotic ointment has not been shown to affect healing.”
9. Allergic reactions
As you are treating it, you might end up with a rash on your piercing. This could be due to an allergic reaction either to the jewelry or the cleaning agent you are using. The rash might also be itchy. Stop using the cleansers you are using and ensure you are not allergic to the navel ring you currently have.
Sometimes you might end up with bumps or bubbles near the pierced site. This is a sign of an infection and you need to treat them. There are many treatments that include applying aspirin, warm saline compresses, applying chamomile teabags, piercing solutions, and the use of tea tree oil.
Our experience and feedback from our readers have shown that most people tend to get best and quick results with tea tree oil followed by the saline (sea salt + water) compresses. Piercing solutions have also been found helpful in getting rid of these bumps.
How to cleaning how to clean the infected area?
We have looked at treatments you could give a try. Most of the infection will disappear if you try some of these treatments. However, you also need to know how to clean an infected belly piercing and properly care for it. This will speed up the healing process and ensure there are no chances of reinfection or the spreading of the infection to areas around the pierced site.
To clean it, get your cleaning solution such as piercing solution, saline solution or even a mild antibacterial soap and cotton swabs, balls or Q-tip. Dip your cotton swabs or balls into the cleaning solution and gently begin to clean the area around your piercing, removing all discharge and debris that might have begun building up.
When you are done with cleaning, you should rotate your jewelry about 3-4 times. Do this 3 to 4 times a day. Avoid over cleaning since it can slow down the healing process.
It is advisable to also clean it when taking a warm shower too. Use antibacterial soaps since they can help in fighting infections. However, you need to avoid perfumed soaps since they can easily irritate it.
General care tips and ideas
We have looked at symptoms, treatments, and how to clean an infected navel piercing. It is time look at some of the good care tips that can ensure you heal quickly.
- Ensure you loosely bandage the site and wear loose clothing to avoid injuring it further. This will minimize chances of injuries that can cause bleeding.
- Your cleanser choice is important if you do now want to irritate the pierced site. For instance, red bumps on the pierced site, you should switch to milder cleansers as it could be causing the irritation.
- Always use gold and titanium jewelry and avoid nickel since it often causes allergic reactions.
- Do not use a towel in cleaning to avoid the ring getting stuck in the towel.
- Avoid using rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide since it can cause crusting and skin dryness.
- Always sleep with your back to avoid your clothing from sticking to or touching your infected piercing.
When to see a doctor
Sometimes, the above treatments and home remedies may not yield desired results or the infection might worsen. In such a case, you need to see a professional healthcare personnel. Furthermore, see a doctor immediately if you have a badly swollen navel, excessive pain, navel piercing infection bleeding or excessive discharge.
Applying pressure if its bleeding is often recommended if it is caused by a minor injury. However, if it is a more serious case of bleeding, you need to see a doctor after first aid. A doctor will examine you and prescribe medications that will easily clear away the infection. He or she should also be able to advise you if you need to remove the infected belly rings.
I hope with this lengthy discussion, you now know how to fix an infected pierced hole as well as how to know if it is infected or not.
Sources and references