Tongue Piercing Pain & Infection-Do Tongue Piercings Hurt?

Tongue piercing pain and infection are the likely consequences of boring into your tongue. Why does it hurt to prick your tongue? How painful are the various types of tongue pricking? What is the level of the pain and how can the pain be relieved? What are the causes and signs of an infection after piercing? Read on to find out

Do Tongue Piercings Hurt?

Tongue piercing, also known as oral piercing, is one of the commonest forms of body piercings. Some consider splitting of the tongue as tradition but due to the variety and diversity of the procedure, it is way past that. Piercings have gone to simple vertical piercings to horizontal, double and even multiple studs. Not to mention that the studs may run in an accent or latitudinal manner.

While it is considered a painful pleasure, some actually say that the pain was zero. They alluded to the fact that getting pierced by a qualified medical professional is better and that most guys who feel pain during this process go for cheaper and less qualified piercers.

Whether you trust hearsay or not, anatomy supports it being a painful pleasure. The tongue is primarily composed of muscle tissue and nerve endings. The nerve endings are the reason you feel pain upon sipping hot tea or too cold a food. A cut on the tongue can be awfully painful and even bloody.

tongue piercing pain and possible infection
Piercing tools

Why does it hurt to pierce the tongue?

There is an array of reasons behind the pain experienced during and even while taking care of the pierced tongue. Here are some of them:

Tongue inflammation

Piercing damages the cells in the tongue to make a hole. It therefore follows that your body will react by triggering its immune response against the breach. At times you may be allergic to the barbell inserted and an allergic inflammation arises. Inflammation manifests as swelling, redness and pain. The swelling is worst on days two and three, and will reduce over the next week.

Nerve damage

 This mostly applies to quacks you run to in a bid to save some cash. It not done carefully and knowledgeably, the piercer may hit a critical nerve in the tongue and cause nerve damage. This has implications on your ability to speak and taste. It may also occur following loose clamping of the tongue.

Infection or transmission of hepatitis

Infections may arise from failure to properly clean your mouth before taking to the studio. Some of the ways you could clean your mouth with include using a mouthwash aside brushing your teeth. Infections may also be spread by inserting unhygienic objects in the mouth including the hands after the procedure. Though rare, transmission of blood-borne diseases like hepatitis B may result. Kissing could also lead to infections being transmitted. It is the second-most risky source of infection.

Wrong size of tongue piercing barbell

Usually, the barbell inserted by the piercer is longer than that inserted after healing. The length needs to be longer (18 mm) to allow for swelling that occurs. A short barbell that you may have bought on your way to the studio may be short (they normally are) and the barbell could be trapped inside the tongue. Needless to say, this is very painful.

Visiting a quack and unlicensed piercer

Most piercers are not licensed and are not also qualified to administer anesthesia to numb your tongue. This situation is worsened by a piercer who cares not about the sterility of the piercing tools. To add, unlicensed piercers don’t understand the anatomy of the tongue and will highly pierce a nerve.

Lack of diligence during your after-care routine

Failure to desist from habits such as smoking or taking alcohol could result in irritation, inflammation and pain. Taking hot coffee, tea or food too may cause pain.

The barbell may affect the surrounding parts of the oral cavity

After successful piercing however, the metal parts of the ornament may come into contact with the teeth. Tooth sensitivity is increased and a surge of pain ensues. Periodontal (gum) disease can occur due to wear, soft gum tissue and gum recession occur. Inflammation and infection may hence occur.

Snake Eyes Tongue & Web Piercing Pain


See…there is a thin tissue connecting the floor of your oral cavity with the underside of the tongue. Imagine a perforation through this web-shaped tissue. Exactly what happens during web piercing. The web is a frenulum linguae. This type of piercing is relatively simpler, heals quickly thanks to the limited ramification with blood vessels. Owing to this, it therefore has less tendency to bleed and cause pain. However, individuals are different and this procedure may occur as painful.

The drawback of frenulum piercing lies in the complicated after-care routine than other piercings. They are expected to heal faster but at times with a time span of 2-8 weeks!

Irritation may occur with irritants such as some types of food, smoke and alcohol. If it rubs against the floor of the mouth, it causes pain but this is mostly due to improper placement.

The frenulum has less nerves and this lowers the pain potential and intensity.

Snake eyes

This configuration is commonly the ‘venom piercing’. The name suggests that it looks like snake eyes. The two balls of the terminals of the barbell are visible on either side of the tongue through the width. The method may utilize either gems or acrylic balls on the barbell to avoid damage to the teeth due to metallic balls.

It happens that pain associated with any tongue piercing is limited to the individual. Ironically, any regular procedure doesn’t hurt any more than the other and this applies to snake eyes piercing too. Like any other painful pleasures, it has grown common and popular on social platforms. Unfortunately, these tow does not correlate since people are willing to give up their peace for a moment to look trendy.

There is also a high risk of infection with this type of piercing and also would take a long time to heal. The sore might extend to weeks sometimes until 6 weeks.  A typical tongue piercing, termed traditional, takes shorter to heal.

The most important fact to grasp is that pain is different with different people. Find out more about snake eyes piercing process, healing, care, infections and jewelry

Tongue piercing Pain Level- how much does a Tongue Piercing Hurt?

Piercing your tongue should be the least painful procedures according to many in It is also likely that if you experienced excessive pain, then it is an infection. Infections are in most occasions not the piercer’s fault. Proper after-care will reduce the grading of the pain. It is therefore subjective due to different individual pain threshold and tolerance level.

It hurts less than tongue biting, nose, lip, navel and tragus piercing. The pain according to scale should therefore be on the scale of 1 – 5 out of 10.

However, most people agree that the pain level during piercing is nothing comparable to that immediately after the procedure is completed.

Tongue piercing pain relief

Relief of pain due to tongue piercing is mainly focusing of after-care treatments and methods. Taking good care of the wound is the best approach. Here are some.

  1. Watch what you put into your mouth – some foods and drinks may increase the pain especially those that are hot and irritants. Avoid alcohol and hot foods. Smoking, biting your nails and chewing gum should also be avoided. Chewing gum may make you bite on your tongue. You will also have to survive on soft foods and fluids.
  2. Keep your oral cavity as clean as possible – brush your teeth, use mouthwash (but not the alcohol based one) such as Dentyl pH take enough water to rinse your mouth off bacteria. It has been recommended by the Mayo Clinic that rinsing your mouth for 30 – 60 seconds with a mouthwash after every meal will help keep your mouth clean. Sydney Medical Body Piercing Clinic also recommends that saline water prepared by mixing a pinch of salt with 240 mLs of clean water while avoiding iodized salt is also useful.
  3. NSAIDs including ibuprofen will reduce the inflammation. However, some NSAIDs such as acetyl salicylate (Aspirin), is contraindicated due to its ability to cause bleeding.
  4. Nutritive supplements such as vitamin C, vitamin B and iron hasten the healing of the wound.

Infection Causes

Infections are caused by;

  1. Putting objects that are likely dirty into your mouth such as when biting your nails.
  2. Kissing
  3. Poor oral hygiene
  4. Unsterilized piercing objects
  5. Trauma and injuries.

Infections are not only limited to the piercing site but also to other organs in periphery such as endocarditis, brain abscesses and Ludwig’s angina. In a post published in 2010 by the Huffington, Streptococcus intermedius is reported to have caused a brain infection in two victims who had pierced their tongues. This strain is a normal flora of the oral cavity.

Signs & Symptoms of infection

According to Association of Professional Piercers, you will experience these when your tongue is infected. It is possible to have infections for years.

  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Tenderness of the inflamed area
  • Pus discharge (yellow)
  • Discoloration of the tongue (darkening of the piercing site)
  • Low level fever after piercing

Infections have the same general features on the tongue. Expect any of the above mentioned. It is worthwhile noting that snake-eye piercing is made through the width of the tongue and may harm the vascularity of the blood vessels. It is not safe and pre-exposes to and bleeding infections.

Tongue Piercing Infection Pictures

tongue piercing problems

 Infection Treatment and how to avoid

Many tongue piercers suggest that you observe proper oral hygiene and avoid kissing or having oral sex. Infections should be treated before they complicate and affect other organs. You should therefore report any form of discoloration, bleeding and pus or any other discharge.

Infections are treated by antibiotics prescribed by a qualified health care provider. Get a diagnosis first. Use alcohol free mouth wash such as Listerine and Dentyl pH. You could also prepare a saline solution and gargle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button