Eyebrow piercings can cause an eye infection.

While body piercings are increasingly common, around one out of three people who get a piercing somewhere other than their earlobe experiences a complication. Eyebrow piercing is no exception.

Some of the potential complications include:

  1. Bacterial infection.
  2. Permanent scarring.
  3. Nerve damage.
  4. Allergic reaction.
  5. Increased risk for contracting a dangerous virus.

An infection to the piercing site is a common side effect of any type of piercing. An infection from an eyebrow piercing can enter the bloodstream and lead to an eye infection.

If you are going to get an eyebrow piercing, get it done by a trained professional and follow all aftercare protocols. This can help to keep your risk low and protect your eyes and vision.

Eye Infections

An infection in the piercing site can enter your bloodstream. Since the blood supply between the eyebrow and the eye are intricately connected, this can quickly spread to your eye.

This is called a systemic infection. It can cause complications throughout your entire body, not just in your eye. It will often require antibiotics to clear up.

Eye infections are caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria. They can occur when a foreign object comes into contact with the eye directly or if bacteria gets into the bloodstream. Both of these are possible with an eyebrow piercing.

The most common type of eye infection is conjunctivitis, or pink eye. Symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  • Red or pink color in the white part of the eye.
  • Teary or watery eyes.
  • Swelling and inflammation in the eyelids and conjunctiva, which is the thin layer of tissue between the white part of the eye and the eyelid.
  • Pus or mucus discharge.
  • Irritation, burning, and feeling like something is in the eye.
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses.
  • Crusting of eyelashes and eyelids that can cause eyelids to stick together, which is especially common after waking up from sleep.
  • Sensitivity to light.

Eye infections can cause vision problems. They can become quite serious and even compromise your vision in extreme cases.

Infection of the piercing site can also occur when the piercing procedure or materials are not sterile. Body piercing can increase your risk for contracting or experiencing dangerous conditions, such as tetanus, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

An infection can also run through your bloodstream, impacting your heart, lungs, brain, and other bodily functions and organs. If you experience any changes to your vision, fever, trouble breathing, or signs of an infection in your eye, talk to your doctor right away.

Potential Complications of Eyebrow Piercingsman with one red eye staring at camera

Infection isn’t the only risk associated with an eyebrow piercing. Other issues can occur.

  • Scarring: One of the most common complications of eyebrow piercing is the risk for permanent scarring due to improper placement, jewelry migration, or rejection. Since the surface is considered flat, there is a higher risk for jewelry migration and rejection than in your nose or ears.
  • Nerve damage: Your eyebrow is a sensitive area that contains three major nerves. If the piercing is not done just right, you can suffer permanent nerve damage that can potentially cause paralysis. This can make it difficult to close and open your eyelid properly.
  • Pain: An eyebrow piercing takes longer to heal than a traditional ear piercing. You can experience pain and discomfort for six weeks to three months, even with no additional complications. Blood can also rush to your face after a piercing and cause a black eye.
  • Allergic reaction: There are many different types of metals used for an eyebrow piercing, and it is possible to suffer from an allergic reaction to the one used. This can cause breathing problems and inflammation. It can even earn you a trip to the hospital. A severe allergic reaction can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

An eyebrow piercing is done extremely close to the eye, which can increase the possible risks for problems related to your vision or your eyes.

Minimizing the Risk

An eyebrow piercing can have a range of complications that can also have long-term side effects. If you decide to get an eyebrow piercing, there are some things you can do to minimize the potential for negative ramifications and lasting damage.

The first thing to address is where you get your piercing and who does it. It is important to find a place that closely adheres to hygiene and sterilization practices. The materials should be sterile, and the entire shop should be clean.

The piercer should wash their hands and wear gloves, and also have plenty of experience with piercing eyebrows. Piercing an eyebrow is not the same as piercing an ear. It requires a certain level of expertise to do it right and minimize complications.

Choose a high-quality metal that your body will be less likely to reject. Don’t skimp on price. A lightweight and curved barbel is often a good choice, as it can fit the area better. This shape is less likely to move or be pushed out.

Aftercare

Here are some tips to follow after getting an eyebrow piercing:

  • Try not to touch, cover, or move the jewelry while the area is healing.
  • Don’t smoke, as this can impede healing and lower your body’s immune system response.
  • Only use the provided aftercare products on the piercing area. Keep it free from makeup and other facewash products.
  • Stay out of bodies of water that are not chlorinated during the healing process, as this can introduce bacteria into the wound.
  • Limit haircuts and eyebrow waxing until the area is completely healed. Eyebrow skin is incredibly delicate, and any slight movement in this area can cause problems with the new piercing.
  • Follow all instructions given to you by the body art professional.

An eyebrow piercing can come with serious vision and eye complications if not managed correctly. It requires great care and skill both during and after the procedure to stay safe. With proper care, you can avoid infection in the area.

References

Body Piercings: Teens & Potential Health Risks: AAP Report Explained. (September 2017). American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The Eyebrow Piercing: Everything You Need to Know. (2020). FreshTrends.

Complications of Body Piercing. (November 2005). American Family Physician (AFP).

Eyebrow Piercing Risks. Lifestyle Lounge.

Eye Infections. (September 2020). U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Symptoms. (January 2019). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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