Belly Button Piercing Can Have BAD Consequences - What NOT to Do (2023)

Belly button piercings are one of the most common body piercings today apart from the ears. Infected belly button piercings can be avoided by cleaning the wound properly, and if you do this, the pierced navel should heal within 6 to 9 months. However, sometimes the belly button can become infected due to bacteria and germs getting into the pierced area. This can cause pain, swelling, redness, discharge, and a bump around the belly button jewelry.

If you notice any signs of an infected belly button piercing, it is important to act quickly to treat the infection. Many natural home remedies like tea tree oil, saline solution, and aloe vera can help to kill off the infection-causing bacteria and soothe the inflamed piercing.


Because an infected wound can become a serious health condition, you should visit your doctor if the home remedies don’t help to clear the infection in a day or two. This is especially true if the area around the belly button is throbbing, tender, and feels warm to touch.

Proper piercing aftercare helps the majority of navel piercings heal without any complications. If you are concerned about an infected belly button piercing, this article will help you identify its symptoms and treat mild infections. You will also find out how to clean a belly button piercing to prevent infections.

Causes of Belly Button Piercing Infection

Each piercing location on the body has its own normal healing time. While the wound is healing, it is important to follow the aftercare piercing instructions you received from the piercer.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, navel piercings take up to 9 months to heal completely. However, during that time, the location of the belly button piercing makes it prone to infections. For example, constant friction from clothing, irritation from belts, and jewelry getting caught in clothing can increase the risk of belly button infection.1

Infections occur when the wound becomes infected with the Pseudomonas or Staphylococcus strains of bacteria.


Signs of Infected Belly Button Piercing

Many times, you can avoid serious infections around your belly button piercing if you get it done by a professional piercer in a salon that has high standards of hygiene. You should also choose good quality jewelry to prevent allergic reactions to the foreign object.

It is completely normal to experience redness, some swelling, itchiness, bruising, and even some bleeding after getting your belly button pierced. Clear or white pus that drains from the piercing is also part of the normal healing process. However, these symptoms should gradually improve over a few weeks if you care properly for your new piercing.

You should always be aware of any signs of the belly button piercing becoming infected. Dr. John P. Cunha on says that some symptoms of an infected belly button piercing are:2

  • The skin around the belly button becomes increasingly red and painful.
  • The area around the navel piercing is swollen.
  • Yellow or greenish pus starts to drain from the navel piercing wound and it gives off an unpleasant odor.
  • You notice red streaks radiating from the belly button. This is a serious condition called lymphangitis and you should seek immediate medical care.
  • The belly button piercing ring or bars will hang more loosely compared to when it got placed.
  • You have a fever.

You may notice other signs that the belly button piercing isn’t healing as quickly as it should. For example, the piercing holes become larger, the area is very sensitive to touch, a keloid or bump forms near the pierced area.

If you only have an itchy red rash surrounding the piercing, it could be a sign that your skin is allergic to the jewelry in your belly button.


Belly button piercing bump

In some cases you may develop a bump on your pierced belly button. Dermatologist Dr. Gary W. Cole says that keloids are scar tissue that can form after a piercing and cause a bump to form. It’s not fully understood why some people are more prone to getting piercing bumps. Also, it’s possible that a keloid forms after one piercing, but not another.3 For example, a person may develop a nose piercing bump but not get a keloid after navel piercing.

How to Clean a Belly Button Piercing to Prevent Infection

It is important to clean the belly button piercing regularly to prevent any infection. You should do this until the wound is completely healed and there is no more redness, discharge, or swelling around the pierced area.

(Video) Belly Button Piercing FAQs ( My Experience, Pain, Aftercare etc ) All About My Belly Button Piercing

Sea salt water rinse is one of the best natural ways to care for your piercing and prevent any infection around the pierced navel area. The National Health Service in the United Kingdom recommends submerging the pierced area in a saline solution 2 times a day to help keep the navel area clean and free from any germs.4

  • Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt in a small glass of warm water that has been boiled.
  • Lay on your back and apply the sea salt rinse to the navel piercing using a clean cloth or cotton ball to help kill off infection-causing germs and soften any discharge from the wound.
  • Hold for 10 minutes to allow the saline solution disinfect the pierced area in your belly button.
  • Gently pat the navel area dry with clean kitchen towels or tissue paper.
  • Repeat the cleaning process 2 times a day to help the piercing heal and kill off any germs in the belly button piercing.

Remember: you should never remove the jewelry from the pierced hole when cleaning it or even if you think you have an infection.

Home Treatments for Infected Belly Button Piercing

There are also many other home remedies that can help to speed up the healing process of a belly button piercing. These remedies contain natural ingredients that have proven to effectively destroy bacteria that cause skin infections.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil can help to remove germs and bacteria from belly button piercings as well as nose piercing. Tea tree oil contains powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that make it an effective all-around natural antiseptic for cleaning an infected belly button piercing wound.

Studies published in the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews into the antimicrobial effects of tea tree oil have found that it is effective against many strains of infection-causing bacteria including the Pseudomonas or Staphylococcus strains.5


Use tea tree oil together with coconut oil to make an antibacterial salve for healing belly button piercing wounds. Mix 1 tbsp. coconut oil with 2-3 drops of tea tree oil and apply to the affected skin around your belly button. This will soothe the irritated skin and help to reduce redness and swelling. Apply the salve twice a day until any signs of a mild belly button infection have gone completely.

This home remedy should be used in addition to regular cleaning of the pierced area with the saline solution. You can also use the tea tree solution to treat infected daith piercing or tragus piercing.

(Video) 5 Things To Know Before Getting A Navel Piercing

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is a great natural remedy for various skin conditions and it can help speed up the healing process of a mildly infected belly button piercing.

Research into the antibacterial properties of aloe vera has found that it can help wounds to heal faster and prevent scarring. This is because it inhibits the growth of bacterial infections and helps the skin to repair itself quicker. The researchers found that aloe vera can be very effective in healing wounds that don’t respond to antibiotics.6

Apply a small amount of pure aloe vera gel to the infected navel area to speed up the healing process. Repeat the remedy 2-3 times a day to help the piercing heal faster and prevent scarring around the hole.

Chamomile compress

Chamomile is a wonderful soothing herb to help treat skin irritations and infections. You can use a chamomile compress to help heal a belly button piercing infection and clean away and discharge.


The journal Molecular Medicine Reports found that chamomile extracts can help dry out infected wounds and help the skin heal quicker. Added to this is the fact that chamomile is a natural antimicrobial agent which can help clean infected wounds. In fact, in clinical trials, chamomile was more effective than some corticosteroids ointments that are prescribed to reduce inflammation.7

It is very easy to make a chamomile compress at home. Dip a chamomile tea bag in a cup of hot water and carefully squeeze out excess liquid. Apply the warm compress to your belly button piercing and hold for 5-10 minutes. Repeat applying the chamomile remedy 1-2 times a day to help the navel piercing heal quicker and prevent infections.

Apple cider vinegar

Diluted raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar can be used as an antibacterial rinse to help reduce signs of infection around the belly button piercing.

(Video) Bellybutton piercing, what to expect, proper aftercare, who can and can't get pierced

Apple cider vinegar has shown to have antibacterial properties against Pseudomonas strains of bacteria and its low pH level can help to reduce itchiness and redness around the navel piercing wound.8

Mix equal parts of raw apple cider vinegar and water to treat an infected belly button piercing. Using a cotton ball, apply the healing mixture to the affected skin area to help reduce any signs of infection. Repeat the process 2-3 times a day for best results.


Calendula is another natural remedy that you can use to treat infected navel piercings. Extracts from the calendula (pot marigold) plant have antibacterial and antiviral properties that help infected wounds to heal quicker. Calendula oil can also help prevent the formation of piercing scars.

The journal Wounds found that as well as ridding the skin of harmful infection-causing bacteria, calendula helps to boost collagen production. This helps any damaged skin heal quicker and can prevent the formation of scars.9

To use calendula oil to help cure a mildly infected belly button piercing, you should add 2-3 drops of calendula oil to 1 tbsp. coconut oil. Apply the healing ointment 2-3 times a day to the affected navel skin area until any redness, swelling, and discharge has gone completely.

How to Prevent Belly Button Piercing Infections

In order to prevent your belly button piercing from becoming infected, there are a number of things you should avoid. Following these simple tips to prevent infections can help the piercing site heal quicker and avoid any complications. Doctors from the Mayo Clinic recommend the following:9

  • Avoid fiddling with your piercings so as not to irritate the pierced site even more.
  • Always wash your hand thoroughly before cleaning the piercing.
  • Don’t take the jewelry out until the piercing hole has completely healed.
  • Avoid swimming in pools, rivers, lakes, and stay out of hot tubs while the belly button piercing is healing.

You should always try to wear loose-fitting clothing so as not to catch or irritate the belly button jewelry.

If you are concerned that a belly button infection is getting worse and not healing properly, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Related articles:

(Video) DO NOT Let This Happen To Your Piercing! **GROSS**

  • How to Get Rid of Nose Piercing Bump
  • Getting a Cartilage Piercing? Learn About Cartilage Piercing Care
  • Pain in Belly Button: Causes and Natural Treatments

Article Sources

  1. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Nov 15;72(10):2029-2034.
  2. Puncture wounds.
  3. Medicinenet com. Keloids and piercing.
  4. Body piercing – aftercare.
  5. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2006 Jan; 19(1): 50–62.
  6. Australas Med J. 2012; 5(6): 305–309
  7. Mol Med Report. 2010 Nov 1; 3(6): 895–901.
  8. Eur J Gen Med. Vol. 5, No. 2, 2008, pp. 104-106.
  9. Wounds. Vol. 20, No. 8. 2008 Aug.


What not to do when getting a belly button piercing? ›

Don't put anything on your belly button unless a doctor tells you to. That includes lotions, oil, and perfume. Even antibacterial cream and hydrogen peroxide may slow healing or trap bacteria inside your new opening. Wear clean, loose, and soft clothes.

What's the worst that can happen with a belly button piercing? ›

These risks include: Allergic reactions to the jewelry. Excessive bleeding. Jewelry rejection or migration (migration is when the piercing moves internally to a slightly different spot, and rejection is when your body starts to push the jewelry out and you see more and more of the barbell)

What happens if I keep hitting my belly piercing? ›

It's likely to become irritated and painful, in addition to being more susceptible to infection. You should take care not to bump or knock your piercing, and continue cleaning it with sterile saline to make sure no germs or dirt get in.

What if I take my belly button piercing out and it wont go back in? ›

If your piercing is in the process of closing, you may be able to reinsert the jewelry by stretching the hole in a warm shower, but you should never force it. You can try going to your piercer to get it re-pierced and ask them to attempt a re-insertion first as well; they're more likely to do so successfully.

Can I shower with a belly button piercing? ›

Keep your belly button clean! Allow warm water to run over your piercing when you shower (but don't scrub your navel piercing with soap; letting sudsy water run over the piercing is fine). During the day, you can spritz or rinse your navel piercing regularly with a saline wash, like Recovery Saline Solution.

When can I take a shower after belly button piercing? ›

Avoid baths, hot tubs, swimming pools, saunas, lakes, etc. for the first three weeks after being pierced as they contain bacteria which can increase the risk of infection.

How often do belly button piercings go wrong? ›

Will it look as good with a scar? Thinking about getting a body piercing? Who hasn't, right? Well, one thing to consider is that about 20 percent of the time there are complications from the procedure, such as infection or scarring, a fresh review of the medical literature finds.

Can you sit down after belly piercing? ›

Definitely avoid doing any sit-ups until after your piercing has healed, as the movement will irritate the piercing and prolong the healing process. Additionally, if you sleep on your stomach, try to sleep in the fetal position on your side while the piercing heals.

Can I workout with belly piercing? ›

Can I work out if I just got my bellybutton pierced? It is not recommended that you work out immediately after you get your belly button pierced. You should wait for at least a few days, and perhaps much longer before you resume any of your usual workout routines.

What irritates belly piercings? ›

Causes of belly button piercing irritation
  • Allergic reactions. Allergies to the metal in body jewelry are common. ...
  • Injuries. When clothing or other objects catch on navel jewelry, it can injure and tear the skin. ...
  • Skin disorders.

Can I sleep on my stomach with a belly button piercing? ›

Sleep on your back or side for the first few weeks after your piercing. If you're usually a stomach sleeper, do your best to avoid laying on your stomach in your sleep.

How much does a belly button piercing hurt on a scale of 1 10? ›

According to Niki, most people rate navel piercings as a four or five out of 10 on the pain scale. Pain is, of course, subjective and it really does depend on how well trained your piercer is.

What does a rejecting belly button piercing look like? ›

Symptoms of piercing rejection

more of the jewelry becoming visible on the outside of the piercing. the piercing remaining sore, red, irritated, or dry after the first few days. the jewelry becoming visible under the skin. the piercing hole appearing to be getting larger.

Do all belly button piercings eventually reject? ›

Piercing rejection is not very common, but it does happen. Rejection most common in the first few weeks to months after getting a piercing. So it's important to keep an eye on new piercings.

Can I change my belly piercing after 1 month? ›

Generally, belly button piercings will take 6-12 months or sometimes longer to have fully healed. The first time you take your jewellery out, we recommend getting a piercer to help you as they can assess whether it has healed enough for a changeover without irritating the piercing.

Should I clean the crust off my piercing? ›

DO NOT pick the crusties off—that's just introducing your dirty hands to a healing piercing and can increase your risk of infection. The best way to clean them is to soak the piercing in warm saline solution, softening the crusties which then come off easily.

Should I move my belly button piercing while cleaning? ›

While cleaning your new piercing, it is not necessary to rotate or move the jewelry back and forth. If the jewelry does move freely while cleaning, that is fine. Make sure not to force it to move.

Should I ice my belly button piercing? ›

Ice can help calm irritation (make sure to have the ice in a clean Ziploc bag; scratching will hurt more than it will help. Use products like Neosporin, bactine, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, or antibacterial soap. These cause a lot of issues with piercing, including migration, excess scar tissue, and prolonged healing.

Should you dry piercing after shower? ›

After showering gently dry the piercing, front and back, using a hair dryer or gently pat dry with sterile packaged gauze. There is no need to rotate/twist your jewelry . The body will heal itself, you simply keep the outside clean and dry.

Can I wear a waterproof bandage over my belly button piercing? ›

Belly Piercing:

Belly button piercings can take up to a year to heal completely. It's best to wait at least two weeks before swimming and avoid submerging the piercing in water for an extended period. If you must swim, cover the piercing with a waterproof bandage or sealant.

How long will belly piercing be sore? ›

Let's start with the basics: Even when a belly button piercing goes well, you can expect some tenderness, redness and even crusting at the spot for 12 to 18 months.

What is the most painful piercing for a woman? ›

The clitoris is also quite sensitive and contains thousands of nerve endings. Even if you're pretty tolerant to pain, a clitoris piercing may hurt many times worse than any other piercing pain.

How do I know if my belly is pierced wrong? ›

The bottom ball of your belly ring should still rest over top your belly button when the piercing is done. If your piercer tries to place your belly button piercing so high that the bottom ball is actually above your belly button, they're performing the piercing incorrectly.

What are the rules after getting a belly button piercing? ›

During the healing process, you should do the following:
  • Avoid hot tubs, pools, and lakes. Your wound can come into contact with bacteria in the water.
  • Opt for clean, loose-fitting clothing. Tight garments can irritate the area and trap bacteria.
  • Protect the piercing. ...
  • Avoid the sun to prevent sunburns.

Can I slouch with a belly button piercing? ›

Try not to put pressure on the jewelry. This means that you should stay away from tight clothing, and try not to slouch when you sit to avoid squishing the jewelry between the tummy rolls that the majority of us tend to have.

Will my belly button piercing change if I lose weight? ›

Navel piercings are especially prone to migration and rejection. Rapid weight gain or loss can be a factor. When you lose or gain weight, the skin around where the piercing is will move, and movement is a contributing factor to piercing rejection.

Does weight gain affect belly piercing? ›

Drastic weight gain or loss over a short period of time can cause your belly piercing to be rejected, even if it's years old. If you are gaining or losing weight, or if you're pregnant, keep an eye on your belly piercing, and if you start to see signs of rejection, talk to your piercer.

Can I shower after getting a piercing? ›

Your sweat is sterile to you, so shower like you normally do and clean the piercing afterwards with saline or sterile wound wash. Do not swim in rivers, lakes, hot tubs, pools, or oceans until your piercing is healed.

Can I do squats with a belly piercing? ›

Amongst all piercings, the belly takes the longest to heal. It is not advisable to bend or squat when your piercing is brand new. And here's a piece of good news you lazy bones- you can give your ab workout a miss for a few weeks! Your piercing should heal fairly quickly if you treat with tender loving care.

Should you put Vaseline on belly piercing? ›

DO NOT use products such as Neosporin, bacitracin, A&D ointment, vaseline, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and Bactine. The manufacturers of these products state that they are not for use on puncture wounds.

Does salt water help belly button piercing? ›

One way to help your new piercing stay healthy is to soak it in a sea salt or saline mixture. Doing this can keep your wound clean and promote healing. Some piercing experts tell their customers to consider a sea salt soak to help your piercing heal.

Can sweat irritate a belly piercing? ›

Sweat will not irritate your new piercing but it could introduce bacteria causing infection. Clean your piercing thoroughly in the way that is prescribed to you by your piercer after you finish your workout, and refrain from touching it while at the gym or out on your run.

Can I touch my belly piercing? ›

They can have a closer look but never let them touch your piercing. Touching the site with dirty hands can introduce bacteria to the open wound and predispose you to infection. This also goes for you. Avoid touching your new piercing unless you're cleaning.

What is the hardest piercing to heal? ›

Cartilage piercings take longer to heal than earlobe piercings. The average healing time is 8 months, but it can take up to 12 months for some people. The healing process is slow because cartilage doesn't have a good blood supply. This means that it's harder for the body to fight off infection and promote healing.

How much does a belly piercing cost? ›

The cost of your belly button piercing will vary depending on the studio you go to, your geographic location, your piercer's experience, and how complicated your piercing is. On average, however, you can expect a belly button piercing to run between $30 and $75.

How can I increase my pain tolerance for piercings? ›

Consider using a numbing agent before getting an ear piercing. It is common to use ice on the ears for 15-30 minutes before getting your piercing. Icing the ears can potentially numb the pain receptors in the area and confuse the brain as to where the pain is coming from.

What piercings reject the most? ›

Surface piercings have the highest rejection rate. Surface piercings such as microdermals as well as eyebrow piercings and navel piercings reject the most because they are closest to the surface of the skin.

What is a floating belly button piercing? ›

A Floating Navel Piercing sits the position of the barbell deeper into the inside of the navel while still coming out the top in the traditional placement. It's there where you can get creative with lots of cute options in jewelry from sparkling stones, or cascading dangles! (

How long does it take for a belly piercing to start rejecting? ›

A piercing can start to be rejected within a week of getting it done, but it can also happen months or years after you think the area has healed. If you hit the piercing hard enough the body may register it as a threat and start to push it out.

How fast can a belly button piercing close? ›

How fast does your belly button piercing close up? The hole never closes. Any body piercings you get will leave a permanent hole. If you want to know how fast it heals, well that depends on the person, some people heal faster than others but the healing process is usually 2 to 4 weeks on average.

Can a rejecting piercing be saved? ›

Practicing good hygiene can prevent your piercing from getting infected or from migrating. Piercings rejected due to allergic reactions will usually need to be removed, but infections can heal over time.

Can you get belly button piercings with not enough skin? ›

If you don't have a solid flap of skin on the top of the belly button, sometimes piercers can go for the lower lip of the belly button instead (though this is a rare option). Unfortunately, if you have an outie belly button, you most likely won't be able to get it pierced.

What if I don't want my belly button piercing anymore? ›

If you decide that you don't want to have a piercing anymore, just take it out. Continue to clean the wound for a few days. It will heal to a tiny scar, probably undetectable to the naked eye, if removed during the first few months. After several years, there may be a more noticeable scar/dimple.

What will happen if I change my belly ring too early? ›

You might think it's safe to change your belly bar, but if it's done too soon you could experience redness, swelling or infection. If you're still in the healing process or have irritation from the belly ring, the skin will become red or pink.

Can I change my belly piercing in 2 weeks? ›

Wait 6–12 months for your belly piercing to heal before changing jewelry. When you first pierce your belly, it will be swollen and tender, so leave in the jewelry your piercer gives you.

Can I lay on my stomach with a belly button piercing? ›

Sleep on your back and sides for the first few weeks after your piercing. If you're usually a stomach sleeper, do your best to avoid laying on your stomach in your sleep. Sleeping on your stomach could irritate and harm your piercing site, causing unnecessary pressure that could hinder the healing process.

Do belly button piercings reject easily? ›

Not everyone gets a rejection after belly button piercing. People are variably susceptible and it is based on their immune system's reaction to foreign objects within the body. If the piercing is done too near to the surface of the skin, there is a higher risk of rejection.

Can I workout after a belly piercing? ›

It is not recommended that you work out immediately after you get your belly button pierced. You should wait for at least a few days, and perhaps much longer before you resume any of your usual workout routines.

What are the rules for belly button piercings? ›

In order to be a candidate for a navel piercing, you need to have a protruding lip of skin on the top (or, uncommonly, on the bottom) of your navel, with enough space behind the flap for jewelry to sit comfortably. The flap must have a definite front and back, with a clear edge dividing the two.

How often should I clean my belly button piercing? ›

If you suspect an infection in your belly button piercing, it's time to up your cleaning game. Your piercing should be cleaned twice a day. (That rule holds true whether it's to prevent an infection or to treat one, too.) “You need to commit to keeping your piercing clean from Day 1,” Dr.

What does a rejected belly piercing look like? ›

the piercing remaining sore, red, irritated, or dry after the first few days. the jewelry becoming visible under the skin. the piercing hole appearing to be getting larger. the jewelry looking like it is hanging differently.

Do belly button piercings never heal? ›

Navel piercing are among the most difficult to heal, and complete healing can take as long as two years. Things like stress, poor diet, illness, or poor quality jewelry can prolong the healing time.

Can you get wet after belly piercing? ›

You should avoid swimming for at least 24 hours after having a piercing, and ideally until it has healed properly. While it's still healing, it's important to keep the piercing dry as there's a risk of infection.

Can I wear leggings after belly button piercing? ›

It is a good idea to wear loose fitting clothing for the first few days as tight-fitting clothing can pull or rub against your new piercing. This might seem like a long healing time, but with the proper after care and attention it should go smoothly!


1. Belly Piercing Experience (what to expect, pain, cost, aftercare)
(Simply Shell)
2. Navel piercing gone wrong
(BlackSails Piercing)
3. Top Things to AVOID with a Fresh Belly Button Piercing!
(BreeAnn Marie)
4. 4 Reasons Why You Get Piercing Bumps
(Lulu Ave)
5. Signs of a Healing Belly Button Piercing.
(BreeAnn Marie)
6. Is Your Piercing INFECTED or IRRITATED?
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