The most important thing to keep in mind after getting your body piercing done is that, in essence, you have just suffered an open wound and you need to care for it exactly as you would a surgical wound or injury. That is, with the same kind of care, cleaning, and attention that you would give to a serious injury to make sure you don’t leave scars or get an infection. There are two different types of body piercing to consider: non-oral and oral.
Aftercare for non-oral body piercing Keeping your piercing clean can’t be too stressful! You just can’t. Twice a day, every day, without fail. No apologies. Use a mild antibacterial soap that is fragrance-free, such as Provon® Antimicrobial Lotion Soap or Satin® Therapeutic Skin Cleanser, both approved by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP). The best place to clean your piercing is usually the shower, where the warm water will help loosen and remove the scabs around the base of your jewelry. Use a cotton swab or tissue to remove them, and then throw away the swab or tissue. Never use a washcloth, these things are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria! Same for bath towels after showering! Then, with clean hands, gently clean the area with the soap and twist the jewelry so that the soap penetrates the piercing and let it sit for a minute or two. After turning it over again, rinse well with clean, warm water. Make sure to get all the soap out to avoid irritation. Rinsing is very important, so try to be thorough without irritating the area. It is often helpful to cup your hands and spray water over the area, as the shower stream can be a bit difficult to target directly at the area. Don’t Forget Your Sea Salt Baths After cleansing, a sea salt bath helps remove any piercing infections and impurities while soothing the area and calming any inflammation that may be present. Mix about ¼ teaspoon of sea salt with 8 ounces of warm water. Using a disposable cup, soak your piercing in it for ten minutes the first time and five minutes each time after that. If your piercing is in a place that makes it difficult, apply the solution with cotton swabs, tissues, or some other soft and clean disposable product. Never use a tissue, washcloth, or any other item that will be reused. Always dry your piercings with cotton balls, cotton swabs, or tissues; don’t rub them, pat them. This reduces irritation and possible tearing of the skin and helps promote healing. Although it seems like a minor step, keeping your piercings dry is actually an essential part of piercing aftercare because it reduces opportunities for bacteria to breed (they love warm, humid places to play). If you are unsure about mixing sea salt baths properly or it is too inconvenient, there is a new alternative on the market that is less fiddly and portable. H2Ocean® Piercing Aftercare Spray is a premixed sea salt solution that contains lysozyme, a natural antibacterial that is gentle on the skin. Just spray it on the area and let it drip dry; It is easy to use due to its patent pending compressed air delivery system that produces a fine mist. This product is guaranteed to heal navel piercings in just a month and a half if used regularly and is highly recommended by numerous piercing communities such as BME and Prick magazine. H2Ocean® also comes in a portable size for your pocket or purse, making it easy to do post-piercing care on the go. X-pression Piercing Aftercare Spray is also available for oral and non-oral body piercings and is a mild antibacterial solution with purified water in a non-aerosol pump spray with a pleasant mint flavor. Once a day (not more often, because you will unnecessarily irritate the area), check that the ends of your piercings are firmly screwed in. But first wash your hands with antibacterial soap. And now, some things not to do
- Never put hydrogen peroxide or alcohol on a piercing, as they dry out too much and will delay healing.
- Never use Neosporin on a piercing, it can actually trap bacteria. Read the label; it actually says, “Not for puncture wounds.” Guess what? A piercing is a puncture wound.
- Never remove your jewelry before the piercing is fully healed, which can take months or up to a year. If you suspect you have a piercing infection, see your doctor or piercing professional first.
- Do not sleep on your piercing until the initial healing phase is complete.
- Do not wear tight clothing over your piercing during the initial healing phase.
Post-Mouth Piercing Care For the first three to six weeks after a mouth piercing, rinse your mouth with an antibacterial agent after each meal to kill bacteria and make sure no small food particles collect around the waiting piercing. to get infected and become problems later. There are several great products on the market for this, including APP recommended Biotene and Tech2000 Dental Rinse; These have the right ingredients and the right potency to get the job done without being too strong. Don’t bother with mouthwash, because it’s not strong enough to do anything but cover your bad breath, which won’t be much of a comfort when your tongue is swollen and sensitive due to improper aftercare. You can also use a commercial antibacterial rinse, but dilute it so it’s not too harsh. If your tongue takes on a whitish or yellowish appearance, your mouthwash is too strong and will slow healing. Sea salt rinses … ahh! Mix the familiar 8-ounce warm water solution with ¼ teaspoon of sea salt and shake it in your mouth for 15 to 20 seconds after drinking anything other than water and after smoking. Not only is it a healing aid, it can also be very soothing to the pierced area. If your mouth piercing is painful or swollen, you may find some relief by allowing the crushed ice to melt in your mouth. Popsicles, ice cream, and the like work too, but should be followed, like everything else, with a sea salt (or H2Ocean®) rinse. Brushing, brushing, brushing You can keep your tongue and piercing as clean as you want, but if you don’t brush your teeth well, you will still have millions of bacteria in your mouth. Try brushing your teeth three times a day for the first few weeks of healing. Buy a new brush with soft bristles that will not affect your piercing. Don’t use a brush that you already used before your piercing, as it will harbor old germs. You should also gently brush the balls on the ends of your piercing jewelry to prevent natural plaque build-up on your jewelry. What not to do with oral piercings
- Do not smoke, chew gum, or use snuff or rub during the healing period; These astronomically increase the risk of piercing infections.
- Do not play with piercing jewelry or click it against your teeth; This can lead to cracking of the tooth enamel.
- Do not participate in any activities, including kissing, that exchange bodily fluids during the initial healing period of several weeks.
General Tips to Improve Healing Success Proper piercing aftercare is the primary reason for a successful healed body modification, but your overall health and how well you care for yourself is also a contributing factor. If you are depleted or your immune system is compromised, you will not heal as quickly and you will be more prone to infection. For that reason, there are a few things to keep in mind whenever you have any type of piercing to help ensure that your post-piercing care measures have the best chance of success:
- Drink lots of fluids, especially water. Eight glasses a day at least.
- At least eight hours of sleep a night.
- Try to limit the amount of stress in your life.
- Vitamin C and zinc supplements to help speed up the healing process.
- Lots of fruits and vegetables, and a multivitamin if needed.
- If the pain bothers you, take ibuprofen. If you feel comfortable, you are less likely to move with the piercing.
Signs of Problems Even with excellent post-piercing care, there will be some swelling at the piercing site for a few days. You will also have a clear, watery discharge and perhaps some light bleeding. The bleeding usually stops within 24 hours, while the discharge can last for several days or weeks. This is simply drainage from the wound and actually helps prevent piercing infection. Signs that your piercing is in trouble include:
- Discharge that becomes noticeably thicker and is yellow or green in color. This is a sign of infection and should be examined by a doctor.
- Swelling that lasts for more than a few days, with redness and irritation. Consult your doctor or piercing professional.
- Red streaks at the piercing site and fever, along with body aches. Consult your doctor.
- Hives, redness, itching, and irritation around the piercing, which may indicate an allergic reaction to the piercing gem. Your piercing professional may try to replace it with an alternative metal.
- Shortness of breath or wheezing after the piercing, or a feeling that the mouth or throat is swollen and closed. Seek emergency care immediately!
So how long does all this healing take? If you do your piercing aftercare properly, your body piercing will heal cleanly and leave you with a beautiful new piercing with no scarring, migration, or keloids. However, the time it takes to achieve this will vary depending on the type of piercing. The general deadlines listed below are for reference only. This all depends on your individual body’s response, how much stress you are in, and thousands of other variables. Ear lobe or eyebrow: 6 – 8 weeks
Genitals: 4 weeks – 4 months
Lip / Lip: 6 – 8 weeks
Navel: 6 – 18 months
Nipple: 3-6 months
Nostril: 3 months – 1 year
Septum: 6 – 8 weeks
Language: 4-6 weeks
Cartilage: 3 months – 1 year Disclaimer: All piercing aftercare information provided in this document is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a guide to body piercing aftercare, but rather a starting point for making an informed decision about body piercing. If you have any questions or are pursuing a body piercing, be sure to discuss the procedure with a doctor or piercing professional and get complete and clearly understood instructions on piercing aftercare at that time. Evaluseek Publishing is not responsible for the accuracy of this content, which is based on the general consensus of the ever-evolving and changing piercing community. This article on “Body Piercing Aftercare & Healing Essentials” has been reprinted with permission.
Copyright © 2004 Evaluseek Publishing.