A smiley piercing is unique, subtle, and captivating. It gives you a little extra sparkle when you smile.
That being said, getting a smiley piercing can be intimidating, because it involves an exceptionally thin and sensitive layer of the skin. Abundant oral bacteria can lead to a smiley piercing infection.
If you’re considering getting a smiley piercing, or if you got a smiley piercing recently, you might be wondering how to treat your piercing if it does get infected.
Treat an infected smiley piercing by visiting your qualified piercer and/or medical professional. If the infection is serious, treatment will consist of topical or oral antibiotics. If your infection is in the early stages, you can treat it at home with a salt solution or over-the-counter antibiotic.
First and foremost, you need to figure out if your smiley piercing is infected. Let’s talk about the signs of an infected piercing or a piercing rejection. You might also want to know how to prevent smiley piercing infection in the first place, how to treat an infection at home, and when you should seek medical attention.
How do you know if your smiley piercing is infected?
A piercing on the frenulum, even a fully healed piercing, can become infected at any point in time, but you’re in the greatest danger of infection within the first 4-8 weeks after getting your smiley piercing. Talk to your piercer about ways to keep your piercing healthy. Ask about not only the first few weeks but also the months and years after your piercing has healed.
Don’t worry—mild pain, tenderness, and swelling are completely normal for any new piercing and no reason for alarm. However, if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should seek medical intervention right away.
- Throbbing or severe pain
- Excessive swelling
- Pus discharge (yellow or green)
- Redness beyond the frenulum
- Extreme tenderness
- Foul odor
- Pain and tenderness that lasts more than one week
Unfortunately, a frenulum piercing infection is harder to spot than other piercing infections. Each day, you should gently pull your lip up and away from your teeth to check for signs of infection. You may also need a bright light or flashlight to help you evaluate the area.
If you notice that your jewelry is hanging, drooping, or moving out of place, you should also see your piercer and doctor right away. These are warning signs of piercing rejection.
How do I know if my body is rejecting my smiley piercing?
Whenever you introduce a permanent foreign object to your body, there’s a risk of rejection. Rejection is far less common than other piercing complications, like keloids, dermatitis, and infection. That being said, it is still a possibility.
Here are the signs that your smiley piercing is being rejected:
- The jewelry moves significantly from its original place
- The tissue between the entrance and exit holes become thinner
- The piercing holes increase in sign
- Jewelry begins to hang or droop
- Skin at the piercing site becomes flaky, dry, red, or peeling
- Skin becomes calloused
- Skin cracks open
Rejection usually happens within a few weeks or months following the initial piercing, but it can happen years or even decades later. It’s difficult to predict who will experience smiley piercing rejection because it is related to genetics. However, the size and shape of the jewelry, as well as the tautness of the skin can affect whether or not your body accepts your new piercing. Rapid weight gain may also change the skin and result in late piercing rejection.
If you think you are experiencing a piercing rejection, the best thing you can do is remove the jewelry. Sometimes, replacing the jewelry you’re wearing with jewelry that is a different size, shape or material can help. Of course, it is better to ask a qualified piercer to take a look before you make any decisions.
Piercing rejection can leave a scar, so you may want to apply vitamin E oil after removing the piercing to reduce scarring. You can indeed re-pierce the area after it heals, but if you think you want to attempt re-piercing, you should wait at least one year.
What to do if your smiley piercing is infected
If you believe you have the first signs of a smiley piercing infection (excessive or long-lasting redness, pain, and swelling), here are some steps you can take.
- Continue rinsing your mouth with a saline or salt solution. Be sure the solution makes plenty of contact with the piercing. If possible, rinse your mouth every time you eat something.
- Alternatively, soak a sterile cotton ball in a salt solution and clean the piercing and surrounding area. Here are the directions for proper cleaning:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with antiseptic soap.
- Mix 1 cup of warm purified water with 1/8 teaspoon of non-iodized salt, like Epsom salt.
- Soak a sterile cotton ball in the solution.
- Squeeze the solution over the piercing so that the solution falls onto it.
- Allow the piercing to air dry.
- Use this solution at least once, and not more than twice per day.
- You might also apply an over-the-counter antibiotic cream like Neosporin onto a clean piercing (with clean hands).
- Brush your teeth twice a day. You may want to avoid mint toothpaste and choose bubblegum or fruit-flavored paste instead, because mint may aggravate the piercing.
- Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, spicy foods, and acidic foods.
- Avoid touching your piercing.
- Limit activities that involve using your mouth, like playing instruments or blowing up balloons, that can allow more bacteria to enter your mouth and worsen the infection.
- If your symptoms worsen, consult with a professional immediately. They can help you determine if you are experiencing a normal reaction, an allergic reaction, or a serious infection. They can treat an infection with topical antibiotics or oral antibiotics, depending on its severity.
If you believe you have an infection, don’t keep it a secret – your doctor can treat it before it spreads to other areas of the body and causes tissue damage or organ failure. Keep in mind that these complications are very rare, and as long as you stay on top of things, an infection is easily reversible.
Is a smiley piercing easily infected?
Your mouth is a natural breeding ground for bacteria due to the food you eat. That means that a smiley piercing (and any oral piercing) is more likely than other piercings to become infected. Infection is a serious concern, especially because a smiley piercing can lead to gum damage or even a blood or heart infection. If you already have sensitive gums, avoid a smiley piercing.
On the other hand, as long as you do your homework, consult with a good piercer, and follow aftercare instructions closely, infection is unlikely – even in a smiley piercing.
What is the proper aftercare treatment to prevent infection?
You can reduce your chance of smiley piercing infection significantly by following proper aftercare instructions.
- Choose a qualified and experienced piercer
- Never do piercings on your own
- Avoid picking at scabs
- Use a saltwater gargle, saline solution, or alcohol-free mouthwash after each meal or snack
- Refrain from kissing or oral sex until the piercing has healed completely
- Don’t go swimming until the piercing heals fully
- Avoid touching your piercing
- Clean your piercing twice per day
- Use caution while speaking and eating so you don’t snag your jewelry
- Stick to soft and bland foods for the first few days
- Use a mild toothpaste flavor
Talk to a piercer you trust
A smiley piercing isn’t for everyone. If you already have a very thin frenulum or sensitive gums, you won’t be a candidate for this particular piercing.
Before getting a smiley piercing: Your piercer is your go-to authority for all of your questions about a smiley piercing. An experienced piercer can examine your frenulum and gums and help you explore all of your piercing options. If you’re not a candidate for a smiley piercing, other oral piercing options may include tongue piercings, snake bites, angel bites, lip piercings, and many more.
After getting a smiley piercing: If you decide to try out the one-of-a-kind smiley piercing, your piercer can help you stay on track. They will give you detailed aftercare instructions. If you do have any questions or concerns, they’ll be there for you. They have seen everything from infection to an allergic reaction, so don’t hesitate to ask their opinion if you have any concerns. They can help you determine whether you need medical attention or if you’re just having a standard reaction to the piercing.