Body Piercing Aftercare
Suggested Aftercare Guidelines for Body Piercings
Use one or both of the following solutions for healing piercings:
- Packaged sterile saline solution with no additives (read the label), or a non-iodized sea salt mixture: Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized (iodine-free) sea salt into one cup (8 oz.) of warm distilled or bottled water. A stronger mixture is not better; a saline solution that is too strong can irritate the piercing.
- Sterile saline can be purchased at the shop.
Cleaning Instructions for Body Piercings
- WASH your hands thoroughly prior to cleaning or touching your piercing for any reason.
- SPRAY saline onto a clean q-tip, piece of paper towel, or gauze.
- SOAK the piercing for 1-2 minutes to loosen any ‘crusties’ or debris.
- Gently RINSE the area with clean water to remove any saline and crusties.
**Hint: Pop in the shower to rinse your piercing thoroughly.
- DRY your piercing carefully.
**Hint: A hair dryer on a cool setting does a great job.
Clean your new piercing once or twice per day. When there are no longer crusties to remove, reduce to ne cleaning per day. Once healed, maintain a healthy piercing for life by cleaning it with soap when you’re in the shower ever day.
Cleaning Instructions for Oral Piercings
- Rinse out your mouth with clean bottled water after you eat, drink, or smoke.
- Ice or cold drinks can help reduce swelling
- You may continue to using mouthwash in your routine if it is alcohol free. Do not use mouthwash more than once or twice per day.
Any part of the oral piercing that is outside of your mouth can be cleaned as detailed above in “Cleaning Instructions for Body Piercings.”
What Is Normal?
- Initially: Redness, bleeding, tenderness, and bruising are all normal during the first few days.
- During healing: some 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.
- Swelling can occur anytime within the first few weeks or months (depending on which piercing you have). On the west coast, we experience above average swelling due to humidity; for this reason we always start a new piercing with a larger piece of jewelry that can accommodate that swelling.
- A piercing may seem healed before the healing process is complete. This is because tissue heals from the outside in, and although it feels fine, the interior remains fragile. Be patient, and keep cleaning throughout the entire healing period.
- Even healed piercings can shrink or close in minutes after having been there for years! This varies from person to person; if you like your piercing, keep jewelry in—do not leave it empty.
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.
- Stay healthy; the healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal. Get enough sleep and eat a nutritious diet. Exercise during healing is fine; 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. If you bathe in a tub, clean it well before each use and rinse off your piercing when you get out.
What to Avoid
- Touching your jewelry allows bacteria from your hands to transfer to your new piercing, increasing your risk of infection.
- Avoid harsh cleaners like tea trea oil, Betadine®, Hibiciens®, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Dial® or other harsh soaps, Bactine®, pierced ear care solutions and other products containing Benzalkonium Chloride (BZK) as these can damage cells and are not intended for long term wound care. Also avoid ointments as they prevent necessary air circulation. Use only saline.
- Avoid over-cleaning. This can delay your healing and irritate your piercing.
- Changing your jewelry before the recommended date can irritate your piercing.
- Low or unknown quality jewelry can irritate, prolong healing, and worsen metal allergies.
- 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.
- Unsanitary items including: ear buds, unwashed pillow cases, peoples bodily fluids, etc, coming into contact with your new piercing increases the risk of infection.
- Avoid all oral contact, rough play, and contact with others’ bodily fluids on or near your piercing during healing.
- Avoid submerging the piercing in unhygienic bodies of water such as lakes, pools, hot tubs, etc. Or, protect your piercing using a waterproof wound-sealant bandage (such as 3M™ Nexcare™ Clean Seals). These are available at most drugstores. Swimming during the first 6 weeks increases the risk of infection. After 6 weeks, always rinse your piercings thoroughly after submerging them into water.
- Avoid all beauty and personal care products on or around the piercing including hairspray, makeup, and lotions, etc.
- Genital Piercings—especially Prince Alberts, Ampallangs, and Apadravyas—can bleed freely for the first few days. Be prepared.
- Urinate after using soap to clean any piercing that is near the urethra.
- Wash your hands before touching on (or near) a healing piercing.
- In most cases you can engage in sexual activity as soon as you feel ready, but maintaining hygiene and avoiding trauma are vital; all sexual activities should be gentle during the healing period.
- Use barriers such as condoms, dental dams, and waterproof bandages, etc. to avoid contact with your partners’ body fluids, even in monogamous relationships.
- Use clean, disposable barriers on sex toys.
- Use a new container of water-based lubricant; do not use saliva.
- After sex, an additional saline soak or clean water rinse is suggested.
Each body is unique and healing times vary considerably. If you have any questions, please contact your piercer.