An infected tongue piercing generally needs prompt attention, since your pierced tongue is somewhat more vulnerable to complications when compared with other types of body piercings. Mild infections can often be treated by rinsing the mouth to reduce bacteria growth, icing the pierced area, and obtaining a prescription antibiotic from a doctor. A physician should usually examine an infected tongue even if the signs of infection seem minor at first. Symptoms of an infected tongue piercing often include a deep red color surrounding the piercing, excessive swelling, persistent halitosis, and an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
When you first notice signs of an infected tongue ring, dissolve one tablespoon of sea salt in a glass of warm water and rinse your mouth thoroughly with this mixture at least three to four times per day. You can also mix a few drops of drugstore hydrogen peroxide or a small amount of alcohol-free mouthwash in water and rinse with these as another option. Pain and swelling can be reduced by sucking or carefully chewing on small chips of ice. If your piercing bleeds or has drainage of yellow-green pus, a doctor's visit is recommended as soon as possible. Until you can see a doctor, a warm salt water compress held over your pierced tongue can sometimes help drain away the infectious matter.
Many physicians recommend that the jewelry be removed from your infected piercing, although some experienced body piercers advise against this measure. An infection can become trapped inside a pierced tongue that is allowed to heal over, resulting in possible tissue destruction and the need for surgery on the tongue to prevent serious health risks. Infected piercings generally need to be left open in order for the pus and harmful bacteria to be completely removed. One of the most serious complications that can result from an untreated tongue infection is hepatitis, which can lead to permanent liver damage.
Oral antibiotics are one of the most common treatments for an infected tongue piercing, and doctors usually prescribe them for one to two weeks. During the healing process, carefully follow all instructions for taking the medication as well as for keeping the infected tongue clean. Since the mouth is one of the richest environments for bacteria growth, your physician is also likely to recommend brushing your teeth with a soft-bristled brush immediately after any food intake. Along with rinsing the mouth, brushing will remove any small food particles that could potentially make an infected tongue piercing worse.