It is easy to confuse a healing navel piercing with an infected piercing. While your piercing is healing, after the first 4 to 5 days, a slight redness may appear where the ring pierces the body. Also, crusting will begin to form around the ring, and the piercing may discharge small amounts of milky fluid. However, all these signs do not indicate that you have an infected navel piercing, they signal that your body is trying to heal a wound with a foreign object in it. In 6 to 8 weeks time, the discharge will reduce and consequently so will the crusting. The redness will also go down, and once it disappears completely, you will know that your belly button piercing has healed.
What does an Infected Navel Piercing Look Like
As mentioned earlier, it is hard to distinguish between a healing piercing and an infected one. While there is discharge and redness in both situations, one is more pronounced than the other. The symptoms are a discharge that is thick and yellow, severe pain and/or excessive redness. For some people, the color of the belly button piercing discharge may also be green, yellow, or gray; accompanied by an unpleasant odor. Red streaks at the site are also a bad sign. Some people experience hotness around the infection and there can be bleeding. If you suspect an infection, either visit a doctor or the person who did the piercing.
If you have an infection in and around your navel piercing, you should visit your doctor at the earliest. Do not try to figure out how to treat the piercing yourself, for you may easily worsen the situation. Ideally, your physician should not remove the jewelry from the piercing, as this will prevent the infected site from draining properly, and could result in an abscess. Some doctors may use a hot compress to assist the draining, and may recommend the use of an antibacterial powder as well.
The following are some navel piercing care procedures that you can follow:
- To start with, use a hot compress. This will help the pus drain away from the wound. However, be very careful not to use a compress that is too hot, for you don't want to scald this already tender area. Heat a bowl of water and dip a clean cloth/towel in it. Squeeze the water out and test it against your skin. If it is warm, hold it against the area of the infection for a few minutes. You may repeat this a few times.
- Next, expose the infected area to salt water. Make a mixture of a teaspoon of sea salt mixed with 8 ounces of water. Soak gauze pads or cotton balls in this solution and then place it on the infected area. Once done, pat it dry with clean paper towels.
- One may use over-the-counter antibiotic creams (ideally, water based creams), gels, or powder on the infected area. Ensure that you only use it for a few days. However, the Association of Professional Piercers (APP) advises against the use of ointments as they cut off the oxygen supply to the wound, and in the process slow the healing process.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any ay attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.