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What should I do if I have discharge from my piercing?

You should see your GP if you have discharge from your body piercing, as it may be infected. The discharge from an infected piercing may be thick, foul-smelling and yellow or green in colour.

After you have a body piercing, you may have some odourless, whitish-yellow fluid that crusts around the jewellery. This is normal and not usually a sign of infection.

Any crust that forms can help protect against infection. Do not move, twist or turn the piercing as this may cause any hardened discharge to tear the piercing, allowing bacteria into the wound.

Other signs of infection

As well as discharge, other signs your body piercing could be infected include:

  • the piercing site being red and swollen 
  • the piercing site feeling warm
  • the piercing site being painful – particularly if it's throbbing or if the pain is spreading
  • bleeding
  • having a high temperature (fever)
  • feeling generally unwell 

You should see your GP if you have any signs of infection.

Don't remove the jewellery in your piercing unless your doctor advises you to. Leaving it in place will help ensure proper drainage and may prevent an abscess (collection of pus) forming.  

In many cases, the infection can be treated without losing the piercing. Minor infections may be treated with antibiotic cream, and a more serious infection may need antibiotic tablets. Your doctor will be able to give you advice about which treatment is best for you.

Further information:

Body piercing

More than a quarter of people experience complications after having a part of their body pierced, including swelling, infection and bleeding. Members of the public talk about their experience.

Media last reviewed: 08/07/2015

Next review due: 08/07/2017

Page last reviewed: 03/06/2015

Next review due: 02/06/2017