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Tongue Piercing Infection

Piercings have always been a matter of personal preference. Some like it, some don't. Tongue piercing, though being one of the rarest and most different of them all, brings with them different issues. Let us brush with the possible infections and dangers this piercing can bring along with its attractive appearance.
Body piercing, which had a lot of cultural significance in the earlier days, has become a fad among youngsters today. Though among the different types of body piercings, ear piercing and nose piercing are the most popular ones, tongue piecing is slowly gaining a lot of popularity.
Most youngsters go for this piercing because it signifies breaking the rules and asserting something that is different from normal. There are also people who choose piercing to rebel against their parents. Apart from this, there are some people who opt for this piercing for increasing sexual pleasure. However, there are many cases where these piercing have gone wrong, leading to infections and complications.

Infections from Piercing

A piercing on the tongue is made on the tip of the tongue using a barbell. As the mouth tends to be full of bacteria, any mistake while piercing can cause the bacteria to enter into the blood, giving rise to various infections.
The presence of a metallic object on the tongue can cause problems with its normal activities like talking and eating. Moreover, the metal constantly comes in contact with the teeth, which damages the enamel, along with the teeth itself. The piercing can also cause problems to the gums and sometimes even leads to mouth ulcers.
Apart from these infections, some other serious piercing infections include endocarditis and Ludwig's angina. Endocarditis occurs when the blood is infected by the bacteria which leads to the weakening of the heart valves.
On the other hand, Ludwig's angina is when swelling appears on the floor of the mouth and jaw, so much so that it becomes difficult for the person to breathe.
Sometimes, people visit piercing parlors which offer to do the job at a low price. However, low prices do not guarantee that piercing is done with the necessary precautions. One can get infected with HIV or hepatitis virus, if unsterilized instruments are used for the piercing.

Signs of an Infection

Depending on the seriousness of the infection, the signs can range from mild to severe. The most common signs of a tongue piercing infection are;
Redness and swelling around the pierced area, just after the piercing, is normal till the time it takes to heal. But, if the redness does not disappear after a while, it can be a sign of an infection. Also, if the swelling does not subside or create speech difficulties, there is a thick chance that the piercing has got infected.
Bleeding is another sign of an infection. Blood flowing in the form of streaks, is an advanced stage of piercing infection. Bleeding is fine during the healing process. This infection is painful and may be accompanied by fever too.
Discoloration of the tongue is an extreme stage of infection. If the tongue turns purple, green, blue or yellow, it is very important to seek medical attention immediately. Yellow or green discharge is an indication that the infected area is filled with pus. It is best to consult a doctor in such conditions.
If the piercing is infected, there would be a strong and unpleasant odor emitted from the mouth. This condition usually occurs if the piercing wasn't cleaned properly during the healing period.
Accumulated fluid is another sign. If the fluid does not drain off well, it will accumulate, forming an abscess. An abscess is painful and can occur internally or externally, depending on the infection. This abscess can also occur in the brain, as the brain and the mouth share the same blood supply. In such cases, the infection can get fatal.

Preventing Measures

There are several ways to prevent tongue piercing infections. They are;
► Get the piercing done by a professional.

► See that the piercer uses sterilized needles and instruments, and conducts the piercing with gloves and a face mask.

► Take proper care after the tongue is pierced. Make sure all the aftercare instructions by the piercer are followed.
► Opt for plastic studs instead of metal ones. They contain less bacteria.

► Avoid spicy and stringy food. Spicy food will irritate the piercing, whereas stringy food like spaghetti can stick to the piercing.
► Caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol should be out of the diet, completely.

► Use a alcohol-free mouthwash to rinse the mouth after every meal. This will help in maintaining a good oral hygiene.

Treatment Options

There are a few things one can do to treat a tongue infection at home;
► Gargle with warm saline water; this will reduce the swelling and kill the bacteria causing the infection.

► A non-alcoholic mouthwash will work in the same way.
► A few of the mentioned precautions can also help in healing the infection. They include; avoiding spicy or stringy food, cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, etc.

► Avoid indulging in oral activities like oral sex, kissing, etc.; this will only introduce more bacteria to the mouth, thus worsening the infection.
A tongue piercing is an interesting thing to flaunt, however, an infected one can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. Be responsible, and take care of your piercing till it heals completely. After all, you need to put in some effort to look different.

 Deepa Kartha

Lorenzo Nafissi