Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How do I clean my infected lip?"
I got my lip pierced around 4 days ago and now I am almost positive that it is infected. How should I clean it? Is it necessary to see a doctor or could I just put some alcohol on it?
It is normal for there to be some swelling and inflammation after trauma (such as the piercing process), but as you are probably aware, inflammation is also part of having an infection. Thus it can sometimes be difficult to discern whether the inflammation is due to the piercing itself, or from an infection. Also, these aren't the only two possibilities for inflammation and pain at the site of a piercing. Rarely, some people can have an allergic type reaction to the metal comprising the jewelry (in this case likely a ring). If this were the situation, treating with antibiotics (which would be used in treating an infection) would have no benefit. I wouldn't recommend washing the piercing with alcohol (it will burn very badly in a fresh wound). However regular cleaning is very important, especially as the wound is healing (from a normal piercing...without an infection). I recommend either using warm water with a little soap in it, or a solution of half strength peroxide. Nonetheless I would definitely recommend getting your lip looked at by a physician to determine if it is infected, or if there is something else going on. If it is infected, they will likely give you some antibiotics, and may recommend removing the piercing until the infection is cleared. At that doctors appointment, I would ask them how they would recommend cleaning the wound if in fact they don't recommend removing the piercing. I hope this is helpful, and I wish you all the best.
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