What Causes Tongue Piercing Infection? Symptoms & How To Avoid It?

Body piercing has had cultural significance in the past, but of late has become a fashion trend among youngsters. Though ear piercing and nose piercing are considered to be more popular, recent trend has shown that even tongue piercing has gained significant popularity.

Tongue piercing is performed on the tip of the tongue by a barbell.

In general, all types of piercing are associated with risk of infection, however tongue piercing is considered to be associated with higher risk for two basic reasons.

Firstly, the mouth is full of bacteria and unlike ear or nose piercing, where effort can be made to sterilize the surrounding tissue, this is difficult in case of tongue piercing. Secondly, the tongue is the most vascular organ in the body and any bacterial infection may spread rapidly, via the blood stream.

Further, as the pierced metal constantly comes in contact with the teeth and the palate, it increases the chances of physical damage to the soft palate, gums and the teeth, which can further lead to secondary infections.

It may also interfere with the routine functions like eating and talking.

In severe cases of piercing infections there is a possibility of the infection spreading to other parts of the body including the cardiac tissue, resulting in Ludwig’s angina or endocarditis. Inadequate sterilization of equipment’s and lack of proper precautions can increases the chances of dreaded infections like HIV or Hepatitis B.

Signs And Symptoms Of Tongue Piercing Infection

The signs and symptoms to tongue piercing depend upon the stage of infection and are usually progressive in nature,

  • While swelling of the tongue is experienced in almost all cases of tongue piercing, the symptom usually subsides within a week. If the swelling doesn’t subside within a week, or reappears after subsiding, it should be considered as the first sign of infection.
  • In most cases of infection, the swelling is associated with redness and pain around the pierced area. In some cases, the pierced area may bleed for a few days after the piercing. While in most cases, symptoms subside with a week, if they continue to persist, they are indicative of an infection.
  • Subsequently, as the infection progresses, the symptoms worsen, with a yellowish or greenish discharge from the site of tongue piercing.
  • In addition to the above symptoms the person may find it difficult to eat, drink and talk.

How To Avoid Infection After Tongue Piercing?

In order to avoid a tongue piercing infection, it is prudent for check the reliability of the piercing parlor and the technician. Also remember to verify if the equipments being used are sterilized. Here are some additional points to remember,

  • Ensure that the metal used is a surgical grade stainless steel. Other types of metals can be associated with higher risk of infection and allergic reactions.
  • Add a teaspoon of turmeric to a tablespoon of raw honey and add it to a glass of warm milk and consume it thrice in a day. Turmeric has anti-microbial properties, which helps fight bacterial infections while honey has a soothing effect and hastens healing.
  • Maintain proper dental care during the initial days. If possible, gargle with saline water every couple of hours. This helps keep the oral cavity alkaline and prevents the growth of bacteria inside the mouth.

Consult your doctor immediately, if the symptoms worsen. You may require a dose of antibiotics to curb the spread of the infection.

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