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The Healing Process of a Tongue Piercing (With Pictures)

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Whitney is an expert on piercings and tattoos, with experience in the body modification world.

Here's how to heal your tongue piercing properly.

Here's how to heal your tongue piercing properly.

Tongue Piercing Basics

Tongue piercings are one of the more popular piercings—they're easy to heal and simple to conceal. In general, getting the piercing is relatively pain-free, depending on your tolerance. The level of pain varies for each person.

Swelling

Your tongue will swell for about 8 to 10 days after the initial piercing; the amount of swelling will depend on how far back the piercing is placed (the further back the piercing, the more swelling).

Eating and Speaking

For the first few days, you won't be able to eat solid foods or talk properly.

Jewelry

The initial jewelry used will be longer to accommodate the swelling. They usually use a straight barbell that's 16 to 18mm long that is either surgical steel or titanium (you get to choose the color). Titanium is best since some people are allergic to surgical steel; your piercer should tell you what allergic reactions to look for.

Once the swelling goes down, the long bar will be switched out for a shorter one. They make the shorter ones in other materials, like gold plated steel or acrylic. After the piercing has healed, you can consider using a labret stud or a tongue retainer when you need to hide your piercing.

Things to Avoid While Your Tongue Is Healing

The swelling should subside after a couple weeks, at which time these activities can be renewed.

What to AvoidWhy

Eating solid, acidic, sticky, spicy foods.

They might hurt!

Excessive talking.

You may stretch or tear. Plus, you'll sound funny!

Kissing and any kind of oral activity with girlfriends/boyfriends.

Bacteria threaten healing.

Sticking anything in your mouth, including fingers, pens, etc.

Same as above.

Smoking.

Same as above.

Experimenting with jewelry.

There will be plenty of time to play after it's healed.

The Stages of the Healing Process, Day by Day

After piercing, your tongue generally takes from three to four weeks to fully heal. This is one of the fastest-healing piercings, as the enzymes in your saliva help fight infection and kill bacteria.

You'll need to use a good non-alcoholic mouthwash to help clean your mouth, but be careful not to over-clean, which can cause your tongue to turn green or brown. If this happens, just reduce the amount of mouthwash you use and how often you use it.

Days 1-5

After the first day, you'll experience swelling. The worst of it will be during the first five days when your speech will be hindered, and you may have to alter your diet to mashed potatoes, noodles, and other soft foods. Drinking cold drinks helps.

For quicker healing, you should avoid drinking alcohol or hot drinks, smoking, kissing, fiddling with or even touching the barbell, and ibuprofen and aspirin (which can both increase swelling—use Tylenol instead).

Days 5-7

The swelling will start to reduce. Some people recover more quickly than others.

Days 7-10

Swelling should go down by now. When it does, you'll need to have the barbell replaced with a shorter one. The day when you can replace the long barbell for a shorter one will depend on the amount of swelling you experience.

Days 10-28

It can take 3 to 4 weeks to fully heal.

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When Can I Take the Jewelry out of My Tongue and for How Long?

The answer to this question varies from person to person. Tongues heal fast, and even if the piercing is technically healed, it will also heal shut if you leave the jewelry out for an extended period.

Some piercings might heal closed almost immediately, after a day or so, while others with well-established piercings say that they can go without jewelry for up to three weeks without worry.

How to Reduce the Healing Time of a Tongue Piercing

Keep the Swelling Down

Drink ice-cold drinks, preferably water.

Keep It Clean

This includes cleaning not only the piercing site but your whole mouth.

  • Brush at least twice a day.
  • Gargle and rinse after every meal, after you drink something other than water, when you first wake up, and before you go to bed.
  • Use a nonalcoholic and fluoride-free antibacterial mouthwash or a glass of water with a teaspoon of sea salt (not iodized table salt!) dissolved in it.

Wear the Right Jewelry

  • Make sure that the barbells are tight: Hold the bottom ball still while you twist the top ball clockwise.
  • After the initial swelling reduces, have your piercer change the longer bar out for a shorter one. After this, you don't want to change the jewelry too often, which may irritate the site and prolong healing.
  • Titanium is the least likely material to provoke an allergic reaction.

Avoid Irritants

  • Don't put your fingers in your mouth.
  • Don't touch, poke, or fiddle with the jewelry.
  • If you talk or chew a lot, rinse your mouth afterward.
  • Don't drink alcohol, smoke, kiss, or expose your mouth to anything other than food, drinks, mouthwash, toothpaste, and saltwater.

Watch for Signs of Infection

Of course, infection delays healing, so if you see swelling, redness, angry-looking red streaks, discoloration, or discharge, consult a doctor right away.

Warning Signs of Infection: What to Look For

While you're healing, you may experience the following issues, but don't worry as they will stop once the piercing is fully healed:

  • You'll have an excess amount of saliva, which will cause you to swallow more.
  • The taste buds on the end of your tongue may be tender, and you may experience tingling or burning.
  • You may experience tenderness on the top of your tongue where the ball makes a depression, and on the lower webbing area.
  • You may notice white fluids excreted by the wound where the piercing is healing, as the dead white blood cells are leaving your body. Normally, the dead blood cells would form a scab, but the saliva in your mouth won't allow a scab to form.

When to See a Doctor

  • Swelling. Swelling is normal, especially in the first five days, but if it seems excessive, gets worse, or impedes talking or swallowing, seek treatment.
  • Redness or red streaks. Especially if accompanied by swelling, pain, or fever, this could be a sign of inflammation and infection.
  • Bleeding. If it seems excessive or won't stop.
  • Discoloration and discharge. If your tongue looks greenish, purple, yellow, or black, or if you notice any pus or discharge from the piercing, these are signs of infection.

FAQs About the Healing Process of Tongue Piercings

How long does it take for it to stop hurting?

Usually, the pain accompanies the swelling, so as soon as the swelling goes down, your pain should subside.

How long will the swelling last?

For most people, the swelling may last a couple days or up to two weeks.

What are the signs of infection I should be looking for?

Excessive swelling, pain, or bleeding that does not reduce after a couple weeks; red streaks or discoloration on the tongue; discharge or pus.

How long until I can take the jewelry out for an hour or more?

After a month of healing, you're probably healed enough to start experimenting with jewelry, but remember that since heal times vary, you'll need to experiment carefully to know how long you can go without any jewelry at all.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Allure on May 03, 2020:

Hey, I have had my piercing or atleast 20 yrs? Anyway, i lost my ball so since this Corona business i cant replace it so quickly. I used my labret jewelry n within a week my tongue has healed over it? What should i do?

Jewlz on March 18, 2020:

I got my snake eye piercing at the tip of my tongue on Friday. It still hurts. I woke up and its bleeding kind of alot. Is this normal??

Lady E on March 06, 2020:

How do i know when the swelling is going down wat are the signs of it going down please

King on February 22, 2020:

My snake eyes was bleeding is it infected

Amy on November 17, 2019:

Ive had my tongue piercing for several years now with no problems. I decided i wanted to explore the jewlery, so i ordered a new surgical steel tongue ringue smaller than my first. After a couple days my tongue became red & irratated.i dont quiet understand .is this infection?? After all these years? Or is this normal when changing out rings??

Bubble on October 25, 2019:

What ray asked

Ray on October 15, 2019:

Ik had my tongue pierced on Saturday12th October

And there is white pus at the bottom of my tongue is this normal? and it still hurts is this also normal?

Skyler M Arnold on October 07, 2019:

I got my rounge pierced on Thursday and today is now monday. Yesterday, sunday, i started getting a sore throat. Mildly hurts to swallow. Toung peircing itself looks fine and swelling has started to go down. There is redness underneath where the bar sits. Im just a lottle concerned.

It’s normal on September 19, 2019:

Everything y’all are going through is normal.

Mashed potatoes on August 26, 2019:

I’ve had my tongue piercing for 15 days now and I still have a lisp. How long does this last and is it normal?

sincity1993 on August 08, 2019:

I’ve had my tongue pierced for about 8 weeks, it’s completely healed with absolutely no pain. No swelling and I’ve changed the bar but there’s a hard white lump right next to the hole where the piercing comes out on one side, what should I do ?

glory on August 07, 2019:

i have a white bump on the front of mine too, i have also been cleaning properly and the swelling is going down plus it doesn't hurt much at all, should i he worried?

Rae on July 19, 2019:

I got my tongue pierced on tuesday its now friday, (day3) and i have a small white lump on the front base of my tongue bar but have been cleaning it properly and consistently, is this normal?

Kiera on July 14, 2019:

I got my tounge done nine days ago and there is a yellow whity coat on the top of my tounge is it infected ?

Shelby on July 06, 2019:

It's been two weeks as of today I have like a clear or white ring around the bottom of my tounge ring is it good it looks like a bump too but nothing is coming out of it is it just helling

Lashe on July 02, 2019:

I Got My Tongue Pierced last Thursday and it’s still very swollen is that normal I feel like it was pierced with the wrong ring

Teigan on June 08, 2019:

I’ve had my tongue pierced for three days now and my tongue has become green is this normal

Seth on June 07, 2019:

Tongue suddenly started getting an orange coat on top imediatly after getting a double tongue piercing. 5 days in and now its nearly coated the entire top of tongue

tahlia morritt on June 06, 2019:

my tounge peicing has a hard spot around it and i got it peiced in february and it’s now june! it hasn’t gone away, anything i can do to help this ? and it’s only a little bit sore when i move it backwards

Lois on June 01, 2019:

I love my new look! My healing process is going well. It's just that it's my 10th day and my tongue is still white. What do I do? Help please.....

Anthonysorel on May 29, 2019:

I just got my tongue pierced on Thursday, it is now Wednesday (day 6). I notice that the tip of my tongue burns and a bit tender especially when I have to eat or drink something. This happen right after I gargle warm salt water yesterday.& still the pain is there, I need quick relief; this pain is annoying me. Please, help with any suggestions.

Koko on May 26, 2019:

Day 7 after getting my tongue pierced. So this morning I woke up and decided to change my my tongue ring. The barbel was too long, it was resting against my bottom gums and was making them raw.

I changed it from surgical steel to a bio plastic. So far so good!

Kiana on May 26, 2019:

I got my snake eyes piercing done again yesterday, definitely hurt a lot this time because of scar tissue. Its still very tender today. Should i be worried? The tip is very very sore, cant eat anything, it hurts to brush my teeth because when i go to spit, my tongue wants to stretch..lol this is normal though, right? Especially for day 2?

Koko on May 24, 2019:

I got my tongue pierced 4 days ago, the swelling has gone down and back to eating normal food, nothing spicy.

The swelling was bad the first two days, took ibuprofen and it really helped.

Can’t wait to change this long ass barbell, it’s annoying.

Sanvannah on May 23, 2019:

I got mine done on Tuesday and it’s not Thursday I have white ball of puss im guessing under my tongue I brush and use mouth wash like she said is it infected???

Jay on May 19, 2019:

Is frog eyes piercing suppose to sink in your by the 3rd day?

Eam on May 18, 2019:

Can you get tongue piercing during the first trimester of your pregnancy?

Sam on May 16, 2019:

Got my tongue pierced on Wednesday (it’s now Friday) so I’m on day 3 (well I guess you could say day 2.5 as I had it done Wednesday afternoon), and so far so good I think. I have a 16mm titanium barbell and got a bit concerned that it was indenting too much at the top, but after reading this article and seeing the pics, I’m not worried. I also have kind of a bubble underneath my tongue which I’m keeping an eye on, but it has reduced, so not too worried!

Hannah on May 12, 2019:

I just got my tongue done on Saturday and there’s blisters on the tip of my tongue. Is that normal?

anonymous on May 09, 2019:

got my tonguere-pierced Tuesday and I must say in my opinion the worst for me was the night of getting it I took some Tylenol which helped and by the third day (today) I don’t have much pain. Everyone experiences pain in their own way, but if you’ve been dreaming about getting it done then go for it.

Hope on May 08, 2019:

I REALLY want to get this, but I'm terrified because all of the ear piercings I have had got infected even with everyday care. I'm very prone to infection and I don't know what to do.

Tiffany on May 02, 2019:

I got my tongue pierced a couple days ago. I have a small, hard lump in my tongue by my barbell. It hurts to the touch and when the ball hits it, it stings like a sore taste bud. Is this normal?

Sabrina on April 29, 2019:

I recently had my tongue pierced and only ones side of my tongue and neck hurts. Is that normal?? My neck hurts when i move that side of my tongue

Anonymous on April 23, 2019:

So I have had my tongue piercing out for about a month or two and I’m considering getting it redone but there is something like a little lump in my tongue and I was wondering should I still get it re done if that lumps is there and also what does that lump mean

Gloria on April 11, 2019:

Hi, i Made my tongue piercing 3 days ago and the bottom of my mouth is very paifull....is that normal?

Lottiee on April 09, 2019:

Just had snake eyes done and it’s gone blue is that normal?

J on February 05, 2019:

So you want your tongue pierced?

Got mines done 4 days ago, and the swelling has decreased fairly quickly. I give it another two days and it should be back to normal

Size. I’ve already gotten a tattoo, nose piercing two cartilage pericings in addition to a industrial piercing.

My tongue hurt the least out of all. I would say the pain was a 2 out of 10. Your tongue is a muscle so it doesn’t have the same amount of nerve endings as your skin. I could feel the needle going in but surprisingly there was no pain, just felt the movement of the needle. (My piercer did it from the bottom up) feeling the needle poke through the top

Of my tounge was when I felt I slight pinch, but that was bearable. I didn’t flinch the entire time. You’ll scare yourself thinking about how painful it is, and then realize when it happens that it’s actually easy, quick and basically painless.

The nose hurt the most, second most painful was industrial , cartridge was third, tattoo virtually painless (which I got on mychest area) and the tongue was a breeze! Easily my most favorite too!

I brushed my teeth twice a day as normal, drank lots of water and let crushed ice sit on my tongue at least 3 times a day. I also ate soft foods and avoided alcohol. I took Tylenol one - two times a day for the first 3 days Alone work Amoxicillin that I never used from a possiblebacterial infection, just to be safe it might have help my piercing heal quicker.

The soreness and pain was so minimal after the first 24 hours, now it’s looking amazing.

Don’t do what I did in taking Amoxicillin though, even though it fights infection/ prevents any. Always ask a doctor & chances are they will tell you unless the piercing is infected you don’t need to take medication unnecessarily.

I was being over cautious with the Amoxicillin, but my lymph node under my right jaw ended up getting swollen for the first three days after the piercing which is a sign that your body is fighting an infection. Swollen lymph nodes in that area, even the neck is a natural reaction to the piercing since your body is responding to is as a forgien object being detected in you.

Other than all that, don’t be scared! Get it! You’ll love it! I babe 4 more piercings to go !

Countrygirl on February 05, 2019:

Hey, got my tongue done Friday 1st Feb. I can't eat much, mainly been on soup and soft food, it does hurt sometimes especially when I play with it but your not actually meant to do that but I just love it. I still smoke which you shouldn't but if your thinking you can't, by all means you can just keep your tongue clean and fresh before and after as it may irritate some. I haven't tried alcohol yet which Im sure I will soon but too nervous at the moment

Xd4 on January 07, 2019:

Just got my venoms done yesterday I can’t eat anything

Blondie on December 20, 2018:

Getting mine done today. Nervous and excited at the same time. Hopefully the swelling isn't bad. Got my nose done 2 years ago and was able to change it out less than 2 weeks. Hoping its the same way with the tongue

Hey on October 15, 2018: