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How Do I Care for an Infected Eyebrow Piercing?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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In most cases, an infected eyebrow piercing can be successfully treated at home without the need to remove the piercing. As soon as the affected area begins to look red and feel warm, treatment should begin. The hands should be washed thoroughly with antibacterial soap, and a sterile saline solution should be used to soak the area. After soaking the area, warm compresses should be applied to the piercing for about 30 minutes before using an antibiotic ointment. This process should be repeated several times per day until the area has healed.

The first step in treating an infected eyebrow piercing is to make sure the hands are clean. While the use of sterile gloves is an option, most people do not keep these gloves around the house. An antibacterial soap should be used to wash the hands, and special care should be taken to make sure the nails are cleaned as well. A nail brush is a useful tool in making sure that the nails are completely clean and sanitized. If any harmful bacteria remains on the hands, the infection is likely to become worse instead of better.

Once the hands have been thoroughly cleaned, a sterile saline solution should be used to soak the infected eyebrow piercing. This solution can be purchased at most pharmacies, although it can easily be made at home if desired. To make the saline solution, sea salt should be added to a glass of warm water until the mixture tastes similar to the body's natural tears. The mixture should then be poured into a small container, such as a shot glass. This glass is then held against the infected piercing for about three minutes.

After the infected eyebrow piercing has been soaked with the saline solution, the remainder of the solution should be used to create a warm compress. A washcloth can be used to absorb the warm solution and then applied to the affected area. When the washcloth becomes cool, the process should be repeated with warm water and continued for about 30 minutes.

The entire process is typically repeated two or three times per day until all signs of infection are gone. Some people may prefer to apply an antibiotic ointment to the infected eyebrow piercing at least once per day, although this is not usually necessary. If the infection persists or seems to become worse, a doctor should be consulted for further evaluation.

Causes of an Infected Eyebrow Piercing

If you just received an eyebrow piercing, there are several reasons for the cause of your infection. Even if your piercer used autoclaved jewelry, sterile equipment, washed their hands, and used surgical gloves, a lot can happen from the piercer’s studio to when you arrive home.

Perhaps while you were driving, you brushed your hair back and your finger grazed the fresh piercing. Or you slept on the piercing, putting pressure on it and restricting blood flow. It could be any number of things—keep in mind that this is a fresh wound and susceptible to infection without the proper attention.

The key is to leave it alone most of the time except when cleaning two to three times a day.

If your eyebrow piercing has already healed and is older, it could be infected because your body is rejecting the jewelry. Other explanations may be the piercing area was exposed to unsanitary environmental factors, like a lake or pond, or bacteria found their way to the area through touch and multiplied.

Whether your piercing is new or it’s been healed for years, the saline solution, warm compresses, and antibiotic ointment should clear up the infection within a few days to a week.

Why Apply a Warm Compress to an Infected Eyebrow Piercing?

If your eyebrow piercing is red, swollen, and sensitive, before applying any antibiotic ointment or medication to the affected area, you need to decrease the swelling. This is why you must apply the hot compress to your infected eyebrow piercing before you begin the disinfection process.

Apply Triple Antibiotic Ointment to Your Infected Eyebrow Piercing

If the saline solution held against your eyebrow piercing three times per day for several days does not seem to be working to fight the infection, you can opt to use a triple antibiotic ointment. You can purchase triple antibiotic ointment at any pharmacy or convenience store. 

It is suggested that you use the warm saline solution against the piercing for two to three minutes three times per day; however, this is not the case with the antibiotic ointment. You only need to apply this once a day until your piercing is no longer infected.

To apply the antibiotic ointment, wash your hands thoroughly, just as you would to apply the saline solution and the warm compresses. Use an antibiotic or antimicrobial soap to wash each centimeter of your hands and dry them with a clean towel. You can then use a cotton swab to apply the ointment. Squeeze a bit of ointment onto the end of the cotton swab and then apply it to your piercing, gently moving the ring so that the ointment gets inside the opening.

Do not touch this area at all. The temptation is to mess with the ring or jewelry and move it around, but moving it will only aggravate the infection. Once you’ve applied the triple antibiotic ointment, leave the area alone for the rest of the day.

What if My Eyebrow Piercing Is Still Infected?

If you’ve correctly implemented the steps listed above without success, you still have several options. If your jewelry is losing its coating or if you’re allergic to the metal, you can switch your jewelry to surgical steel (which is the industry standard in the first place), platinum, or bioplastic. Try to avoid jewelry that is gold-plated or plated with other metals if you’re having issues with sensitivity to your jewelry.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, you can get a piercer you trust to switch out the jewelry for you safely and cleanly.

Remove the Jewelry

You may have to concede defeat and remove your eyebrow jewelry altogether if you have repeat infections of the area. If you notice that your eyebrow piercing is constantly infected or swollen, and if you have tried everything you can to keep your jewelry but you still notice a problem, remove the jewelry.

To do this without exacerbating the infection, first, wash your hands. You can then remove the jewelry and use a warm compress with saline solution to mitigate the swelling. Once you’ve held this compress on as long as you’d like, you can use antibiotic ointment on the wound. Apply it with a cotton swab. Without the jewelry in place, your infection should quickly disappear.

FAQ on Infected Eyebrow Piercing

How can I tell if my eyebrow piercing is infected?

An infected eyebrow piercing typically presents with symptoms such as redness, swelling, warmth, pain, and discharge that may be yellow or greenish in color. In some cases, you might also experience a fever. If you notice any of these signs, it's important to seek medical attention promptly to prevent further complications.

What should I do if my eyebrow piercing gets infected?

If you suspect an infection, the first step is to clean the area with a saline solution. Avoid removing the jewelry, as this can cause the hole to close and trap the infection inside. Consult a healthcare professional for appropriate treatment, which may include antibiotics. Maintain good hygiene and follow any care instructions provided by your piercer or doctor.

Can I treat an infected eyebrow piercing at home?

While minor infections may be managed at home with diligent care, including regular cleaning with saline solution and avoiding irritants, it's crucial to monitor the infection closely. If symptoms persist or worsen, or if you experience severe pain or fever, seek medical attention immediately. Home remedies should not replace professional medical advice.

How long does it take for an infected eyebrow piercing to heal?

The healing time for an infected eyebrow piercing can vary depending on the severity of the infection and how quickly it's treated. With proper care and treatment, minor infections may start to improve within a few days, but complete healing could take several weeks. Always follow your healthcare provider's guidance to ensure proper healing.

How can I prevent my eyebrow piercing from getting infected?

To prevent infection, choose a reputable piercing studio that follows proper sterilization techniques. After getting your piercing, follow the aftercare instructions provided by your piercer, which typically include cleaning the area with saline solution and avoiding touching the piercing with dirty hands. Additionally, keep hair products, makeup, and other potential irritants away from the piercing site.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon1002744 — On Feb 06, 2020

I use a hard plastic travel razor (face / leg) case, They look like a hard bar soap case but shorter and wider. I plug the drain holes with hot glue, make solution, set container on plate or towel (I use 5 gal paint lid) to catch the spill, fill then set your timer and gently set your pierced location into the solution in the container. Rinse with water after.

By anon945383 — On Apr 12, 2014

I just got an eyebrow piercing about six days ago and it was fine until about two days ago. It got a little swelled and looks bruised up. What can I do about it? And is that an infection?

By ddljohn — On Apr 17, 2013

@anamur-- There are several reasons why an eyebrow piercing infection would keep coming back. Either you are not keeping it clean or you are using the wrong kind of jewelry.

You have to avoid touching your piercing with dirty hands. Only touch it when you have washed your hands with antibacterial soap. I also think that cleaning with saline solution should be done routinely, not just when there is an infection. I clean my piercings with saline solution once a week to keep bacteria away.

It's not necessary to "soak" the piercing. I clean mine by dipping a clean cotton swab in the saline solution and then using this to clean the piercing and the surrounding.

If you're wearing poor quality jewelry, that might be another cause of infection. The jewelry might be preventing the piercing from healing properly. Or if you have an allergy to the metal, that will cause irritation. Always wear high quality jewelry made of good metals, like titanium for example.

By serenesurface — On Apr 16, 2013

How do I treat a recurrent eyebrow piercing infection?

By candyquilt — On Apr 16, 2013

I've had my eyebrow piercing for six months and it never got infected until now. It has been red, swollen and filled with pus since last week.

I tried to soak it in salt water but I wasn't very successful. It's difficult to hold a cup to my face, I end up getting the salt water everywhere but my eyebrow.

Is there an easier way to clean the piercing?

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