Congratulations on your new piercing! Here are some hints and tips to ensure successful healing:
- The healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal!
- Get enough sleep, and avoid emotional stress. Stress can increase healing times by up to 40%.*
- Once the swelling has subsided, it is vital to replace the original, longer jewelry with a shorter post. Consult your piercer for their downsize policy.
- Remember, even healed piercings that you have had for years can shrink or close in minutes! If the jewery is removed, reinsertion can be difficult or impossible. Should you decide you no longer want the piercing, simply remove the jewelry (or have a professional piercer remove it) and continue cleaning the piercing until the hole closes. In most cases only a small mark should remain.
- In the event an infection is suspected, quality jewelry or an inert alternative should be left in place to allow for drainage of the infection. If the jewelry is removed, the surface cells can close up, which can seal the infection inside the piercing channel and result in an abscess. Until an infection is cleared up, leave in quality jewelry or an appropriate substitute.
What to avoid.
- Avoid cleaning with alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Dial® or other soaps containing triclosan, iodine, or any harsh products, as these can damage cells. Also avoid ointments as they prevent necessary air circulation.
- Avoid Bactine®, pierced ear care solutions, and other products containing Benzalkonium Chloride (BZK). These can be irritating and are not intended for long-term wound care.
- Avoid over-cleaning. This can delay your healing and irritate your piercing.
- Avoid undue trauma such as friction from clothing, excessive motion of the area, playing with the jewelry, and vigorous cleaning. These activities can cause the formation of unsightly and uncomfortable scar tissue, migration, prolonged healing, and other complications.
- Avoid all oral contact, rough play, and contact with others’ bodily fluids on or near your piercing during healing.
- Avoid stress and recreational drug use, including excessive caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
- Avoid submerging the piercing in unhygienic bodies of water such as lakes, pools, hot tubs, etc.
- Avoid all beauty and personal care products on or around the piercing including cosmetics, lotions, and sprays, etc.
What to do.
- Wash your hands prior to touching the piercing; leave it alone except when cleaning. During healing it is not necessary to rotate your jewelry.
- Exercise during healing is fine; just listen to your body.
- Make sure your bedding is washed and changed regularly. Wear clean, comfortable, breathable clothing that protects your piercing while you are sleeping.
Showers tend to be safer than taking baths, as bathtubs can harbor bacteria.
- WASH your hands thoroughly prior to cleaning or touching your piercing for any reason.
- SALINE rinse as needed while healing. For certain piercings it may be easier to apply using clean gauze saturated with saline solution.
- RINSE site as needed to remove build-up and debris. Moving or rotating jewelry is not necessary during cleaning or rinsing.
- DRY by gently patting with clean, disposable paper products. Cloth towels can harbor bacteria and snag on jewelry causing injury.
- FOR ORAL PIERCINGS please maintain good oral hygiene habits! You may use water and/or an alcohol-free mouth rinse of your choice after meals.
What is normal?
- Initially: some bleeding, localized or significant swelling, tenderness, and/or bruising. For oral piercings, do not speak or move your jewelry more than necessary, and be sure to stay hydrated! Oral piercings tend to swell more than the average body piercing. Anything cold (iced water, smoothies, popsicles) will help keep the inflammation to a minimum.
- During healing: discoloration, itching, secretion of a whitish-yellow fluid (not pus) that will form some crust on the jewelry. The tissue may tighten around the jewelry as it heals.
- Once healed: the jewelry may not move freely in the piercing; do not force it. If you fail to include cleaning your piercing as part of your daily hygiene routine, normal but smelly bodily secretions may accumulate.
- A piercing might seem healed before the healing process is complete. This is because tissue heals from the outside in, and although it feels ne, the interior remains fragile. Be patient, and keep cleaning throughout the entire initial healing period.
- Even healed piercings that you have had for years can shrink or close in minutes! This varies from person to person; if you like your piercing, keep jewelry in—do not leave the hole empty.
Need help or advice?
DO NOT ask your friends, family, acquaintances, or any Internet search on how to care for your piercing! Just because someone is pierced, does not make them an expert on body piercings. Please listen to your professional body piercer!
*Although irritation is more common, infections are always possible as a result of obtaining a piercing. These signs and symptoms may indicate the need to seek medical care: excessive redness, swelling, and tenderness around the piercing, red streaks coming from the piercing site going towards the heart, elevated body temperature, and purulent drainage from the piercing.
*These guidelines are from the Association of Professional Piercers and are based on a combination of vast professional experience, common sense, research, and extensive clinical practice. This is not to be considered a substitute for medical advice from a doctor. If you suspect an infection, seek medical attention. Be aware that many doctors have not received specific training regarding piercing. Your local piercer may be able to refer you to a piercing-friendly medical professional.
*The Impact of Psychological Stress on Wound Healing: Methods and Mechanisms” Gouin, J.P. 2011 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3052954/