No pain, no gain. Even if you weren't fighting back tears when the piercer stuck the needle through your tongue, you'll likely experience some pain in the days following your tongue piercing as your tongue swells and lightly bruises. Taking proper care of your piercing and your body is the best way to get pain relief and avoid infection.
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Pain and Swelling
Pain is a side effect of any piercing, especially a tongue piercing. Experiencing significant swelling, light bleeding, bruising and tenderness is normal within the first three to five days, according to the Association of Professional Piercers. After five days, you may still experience a secretion of a white-colored fluid along with some swelling. If your tongue swelling does not go down, you have difficulty breathing or you have a foul-smelling discharge, contact a medical professional, but do not remove your tongue jewelry.
Things to Avoid
If you want to avoid further pain, you may have to give up some of your favorite foods and activities during the healing process. Avoid spicy, acidic and salty foods or stringy foods that may get caught on your tongue piercing. Don't drink alcoholic beverages and steer clear of hot liquids, which may burn the tongue. Because you need to keep your mouth as clean as possible, you cannot engage in open-mouth kissing or oral sex until your piercing is healed, says the Association of Professional Piercers. Likewise, you will have to kick habits including smoking, biting your nails, chewing gum or chewing on pens.
Food and Drink
Everything you put in your mouth affects your tongue piercing including the food you eat and the fluids you drink. Numbing your tongue with ice cubes and ice-cold water is one of the fastest forms of pain relief. The last thing you want to do is to accidentally bite down on your sensitive tongue. Eat cool, soft foods such as ice cream, smoothies and yogurt until you learn to eat with your tongue held level in your mouth. Chew all solid foods in small bites with your molars.
Medications and Vitamins
An over-the-counter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium will help with the pain, but do not use any pain reliever containing aspirin as aspirin promotes bleeding. The Association of Professional Piercers recommends taking vitamin C, iron and vitamin B to help you heal faster. Women should also take zinc, according to the Center for Young Women's Health. Suck on anti-inflammatory throat lozenges to ease your sore throat.
Rinsing and Brushing
Keeping your piercing clean helps you avoid a painful infection. Rinse your mouth for 30 to 60 seconds with an alcohol-free, antibacterial mouthwash after every meal and before bed, recommends the Mayo Clinic. Throughout the day, you may also rinse with either a packaged saline solution or warm salt water. Mix 1/4 teaspoon sea salt with 8 ounces of bottled or filtered water to make your salt water rinse. Do not use iodine salt because the iodine may slow healing, according to the Sydney Medical Body Piercing Clinic. Brush your teeth and tongue twice a day with a new, soft-bristle toothbrush.