Body Piercing Aftercare & Healing Essentials

The most important thing to keep in mind after your body piercing has been performed is that you have essentially just sustained an open wound, and you should be caring for it exactly like you would a surgical wound or injury. That is, with the same kind of care, cleanliness and attention that you would to a serious injury to make sure that you don’t scar or get an infection. There are two different types of body piercings to consider: non-oral and oral.

Non-oral body piercing aftercare Keeping your piercing clean can’t be stressed too much! It just can’t. Twice a day, every day, without fail. No excuses. Use a mild antibacterial soap that doesn’t have fragrances in it, such as Provon® Antimicrobial Lotion Soap or Satin® Therapeutic Skin Cleanser, both of which are approved by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP). The best place to clean your piercing is usually in the shower, where the warm water will help you loosen and remove those crusties around the base of your jewelry. Use a cotton swab or a Kleenex to remove these, and then throw the swab or Kleenex away. Never use a washcloth — these things are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria! The same for bath towels after your shower! Then, with clean hands, gently cleanse the area with the soap and turn the jewelry so that the soap gets in the piercing and let this sit for a minute or two. After rotating it again, rinse thoroughly with warm, clear water. Make sure you get all of the soap out to prevent irritation. The rinsing is very important, so try to be thorough without irritating the area. It often helps to cup your hands and drizzle water over the area, since the shower stream can be a little too hard to aim directly on the area. Don’t forget your sea salt soaks After cleansing, a sea salt soak helps to draw out any piercing infection 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 this for ten minutes the first time, and five minutes each time after that. If your piercing is in a location that makes this difficult, apply the solution with cotton swabs, tissues or some other disposable product that’s soft and clean. Never use a hanky, washcloth or any other item that is going to be reused. Always pat your piercings dry 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 to be a minor step, keeping your piercings dry is actually an essential part of piercing aftercare because it reduces the opportunities for bacteria to breed (they love a warm, moist place to play). If you aren’t sure about mixing your sea salt soaks properly or it’s too inconvenient, there’s a new alternative on the market that’s less messy and is portable. H2Ocean® Piercing Aftercare Spray is a pre-mixed sea salt solution containing lysozyme, a natural antibacterial that is gentle to the skin. Simply spray it on the area and allow to drip dry; it’s easy to use because of their patent-pending compressed air delivery system that produces a fine mist. This product is guaranteed to heal navel piercings in only a month and a half if used regularly and is highly recommended by numerous piercing communities like BME and Prick magazine. H2Ocean® also comes in a portable size for your pocket or purse, which makes piercing aftercare away from home easier. X-pressions Piercing Aftercare Spray is also available for both oral and non-oral body piercings and is a mild antibacterial solution with purified water in a non-aerosol, pump spray with a pleasant, peppermint flavor. Once a day (not more often, because you’ll be unnecessarily irritating the area), check that the ends of your piercing jewelry are firmly screwed on. But wash your hands with antibacterial soap first. And now, a few “don’ts”

Don’t ever put hydrogen peroxide or alcohol on a piercing — they are too drying and will delay healing.
Don’t ever 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.
Don’t ever remove your piercing jewelry before the piercing is completely healed, which may take months or up to a year. If you suspect a piercing infection, see your piercing professional or doctor first.
Don’t sleep on your piercing until the initial healing phase is over.
Don’t wear tight clothing over your piercing during the initial healing phase.

Oral piercing aftercare During the first three to six weeks after an oral piercing, rinse your mouth with an antibacterial agent after every meal to kill bacteria and make sure not tiny food particles aren’t lodged around your piercing just waiting to fester and turn into problems later. There are several excellent products on the market for this, including APP recommended Biotene and Tech2000 Dental Rinse; these have the proper ingredients and have 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 consolation when you have a swollen, tender tongue because of improper aftercare. You can also use a commercial antibacterial rinse, but dilute it so that it isn’t too strong. If your tongue develops a whitish or yellowish look, your mouth rinse is too strong and will slow healing. Sea salt rinses … ahh! Mix the familiar warm water solution of 8 ounces water to ¼ teaspoon sea salt and swish this in your mouth for 15-20 seconds after drinking anything other than water and after smoking. It’s not only an aid to healing, but can be very soothing to the pierced area. If your oral piercing is sore or swollen, you can find some relief by allowing crushed ice to melt in your mouth. Popsicles, ice cream and the like also work, but will need to be followed up, like everything else, with a sea salt rinse (or H2Ocean®). Brush, brush, brush You can keep your tongue and piercing as clean as you want, but if you don’t brush your teeth well, you’ll still have millions of bacteria in your mouth. Try to brush your teeth three times a day during the first several weeks of healing. Buy a new soft-bristle brush that will be gentle on your piercing. Don’t use a brush that you’ve 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 the natural build-up of plaque on your jewelry. Oral piercing “don’ts”

Don’t smoke, chew gum or use snuff or rub during the healing period; these increase the risk of piercing infections astronomically.
Don’t play with the piercing jewelry or click it against your teeth; this can cause cracking of your tooth enamel.
Don’t engage in any activities, including kissing, that exchange body fluids during the initial healing period of several weeks.

General tips to improve healing success Proper piercing aftercare is the primary reason for a successfully healed body modification, but your overall health and how well you take care of yourself is also a contributing factor. If you are run-down or your immune system is compromised, you will not heal as quickly and you will be more prone to infection. For that reason, you should keep in mind a few things whenever you have any kind of piercing in order to help ensure that your piercing aftercare measures are given the best chance of success:

Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Eight glasses of day at the very 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 the healing process
Lots of fruits and vegetables, and a multi-vitamin if needed
If the pain bothers you, take Ibuprofen. If you are comfortable, you are less likely to fidget with the piercing.

Signs of trouble Even with excellent piercing aftercare, there will be some swelling at the site of a piercing for a few days. You’ll also have some clear, watery discharge and perhaps some mild bleeding. The bleeding will usually stop within 24 hours, while the discharge may last for several days or weeks. This is simply drainage of the wound and actually helps prevent piercing infection. Signs that the piercing is in trouble include:

Discharge that becomes noticeably thicker and is yellow or green in color. This is a sign or infection and should be checked by a doctor.
Inflammation that lasts longer than a few days, with redness and irritation. See your piercing professional or doctor.
Red streaks from the piercing site and a fever, along with body aches. See your doctor.
Hives, redness, itching and irritation around the piercing, which may signal an allergic reaction to the piercing jewelry. Your piercing professional can try replacing it with an alternative metal.
Difficulty breathing or wheezing after your piercing, or a feeling that your mouth or throat are swelling closed. Seek emergency attention immediately!

So how long does all this healing take? If you perform your piercing aftercare properly, your body piercing will heal cleanly and leave you with a beautiful new piercing with no scarring, migration or keloids. The time it takes to achieve this, however, will vary depending upon what kind of piercing it is. The general timeframes listed below are just for reference. All of these depend upon your individual body’s response, how much stress you are under and a thousand other variables. Earlobe or Eyebrow: 6 – 8 weeks
Genitals: 4 weeks – 4 months
Labret/Lip: 6 – 8 weeks
Navel: 6 – 18 months
Nipple: 3 – 6 months
Nostril: 3 months – 1 year
Septum: 6 – 8 weeks
Tongue: 4 – 6 weeks
Cartilage: 3 months – 1 year Disclaimer: All piercing aftercare information provided herein is for information purposes only. It is not meant to be a guideline for body piercing aftercare, but a starting point in making an informed decision concerning body piercing. If you have any questions or proceed with a body piercing, please be sure to discuss the procedure with a medical or piercing professional and get complete and clearly understood piercing aftercare instructions at that time. Evaluseek Publishing claims no responsibility for the accuracy of this content, which is based on the general consensus of the piercing community, which is constantly evolving and changing. This article on the “Body Piercing Aftercare & Healing Essentials” reprinted with permission.

Body Piercing Places

Have you ever thought of going to one of those Body Piercing Places? Over the last twenty years, the popularity of body piercing has been renewed. A word of caution if your checking out Body Piercing Places and while their explaining how they perform body piercing, they tell you they will be using a piercing gun, You are not in a professional Body Piercing Place and you need to stay away from that shop because piercing guns can’t be sterilized and your chances of developing an infection are statistically much greater.

Pierced ears or the most common, and usually the first piercing someone will get. However, trying to find the traditional one piercing per ear can be difficult. There are many other kinds of body piercing such as naval piercing, tongue piercing or the labret.

The labret is a piercing that is in the lower lip, but over the course of time, there have been many alterations to this form of piercing. The labret derives it’s name from the type of jewelry worn, which is usually some kind of bead type jewelry. A couple of variations are the Vertical labret which is down through the top of the lip and out the bottom, The Lowbret is having the piercing done low on the chin, While the Medusa is placed in the upper lip between the center ridges.

When you start seriously considering Body Piercing Places, there are a couple things you want to keep in mind. Don’t ever try to pierce yourself or even let a friend use one of the body piercing kits, your risk of infection is very high. The professional piercer puts their reputation on the line by doing body piercing and knows well the power of word of mouth advertising and will not risk their reputation with poor sanitary conditions.

If your unaccustomed with a Body Piercing Places watch how they interact with their customers and how they handle their equipment, the freshly sterilized tools should be kept in separate tray from the used and contaminated ones waiting to be sterilized. The use of contaminated piercing supplies has been known to cause HIV, Hepatitis are any number of serious infections.

While visiting different body piercing places look at their selection of jewelry. With a new piercing, you need to wear good quality jewelry applicable to the location of the piercing, body jewelry is intended to be worn in specific areas of the body for your comfort and ease. When you choose your jewelry pay close attention to the type of material it is made of particularly for new piercings.

Your new piercings will require some extra care in order to properly heal so if your on a budget, are just not sure which piece of body jewelry you really want, at least make sure to look for Implant grade stainless steel in your jewelry which is least likely to cause some kind of infection

How Body Piercing Works — The Ins and Outs of this Cutting Edge Process

Body piercing (defined as any piercing beyond the standard earlobe piercing) has become such a popular form of body modification that between five and ten percent of the population of the United States has indulged in at least one form of it at some time in their lives. In most cases, once a person gets a body piercing, they follow the first one with more. There are lots of considerations; however, for making sure that your body piercing is done safely so that you don’t end up with either an infection or a poorly done piercing that could leave an unsightly scar.

It ain’t ear piercing, honey…

The procedure for a good body piercing isn’t the same is for getting your earlobes pierced. Most earlobe piercings that you see done in a mall or jewelry store involve using a piercing gun that quickly shoots the actual earring post through the earlobe. This may be fine for an area of the body that has soft tissue and is easily pierced, but it isn’t a good idea for other parts of the body for a few reasons.

First, it isn’t as accurate as a needle, so lining it up won’t always work. Just as with any gun, there is a recoil that will make the aim inaccurate. Second, the force of the gun will cause bruising and damage to the skin that isn’t necessary and will slow the healing process. Third, a piercing gun can’t be sterilized completely, so there is a higher risk of infection. The message is clear — never get a body piercing done with a piercing gun. Always go to a professional who follows procedures approved by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP).

Once you get to the piercing parlor, there are several steps to the body piercing process that will take place to ensure both the success of the piercing and your health and safety. Each of these steps should be followed and nothing skipped.

Getting the preliminaries out of the way

You must be comfortable in the environment and comfortable with your piercer before moving ahead with anything. If he or she attempts to rush you through the procedure without answering your questions or putting you at ease, do not continue. This is a long-term commitment you are making, so it’s up to you if you want to go through with it.

There is paperwork to be filled out, and don’t let a piercing parlor tell you otherwise. A good piercing studio always keeps accurate records to ensure the health and safety of their clients. If there would ever be a question of contamination or some other health hazard, they must be able to contact you. If you are a minor, they must have the signature of your parent or guardian, who must be present at the time of the piercing.

Sterilization — the only route to safe body piercing

Sterilization is all-important in body piercing — the piercing area must be sterile, the piercer’s hands must be sterile, the tools used must be sterile, and the piercing needle must be sterile.

A separate area for sterilization should be available in the piercing parlor where a steam heat autoclave is operational. The autoclave is the only approved sterilization device that can sufficiently heat tools such as forceps to a high enough temperature to kill all bacteria. Before beginning any piercing, all tools will be sterilized in an autoclave and laid out carefully on a clean tray. After this, they will not be touched until your piercing begins, and then only by your piercer when he has safely cleaned and gloved his hands, just as a surgeon would.

You can’t be too clean

The piercing chair or table will also be cleaned, usually by being wiped down thoroughly with an antibacterial spray and disposable cloths or paper towels to prevent recontamination. You will not be allowed to enter and prepare for your piercing until the area has been prepped and sterilized.

The needles used for body piercing are sterile and individually packaged, and no reputable piercer will ever use a needle that has already been used once. When you are pierced, the sterile needle’s package should be opened in your presence just before your piercing. The same is true of your starter jewelry — it should be sealed in sterile packaging and only opened in your presence.

The piercer will wash his hands and wrists with an antibacterial liquid soap and dry them before donning disposable gloves. At this point, he will be ready to begin your piercing.

Prep work means straight piercings and fewer complications

With properly gloved hands, your piercer will first check the area you want pierced to determine if you are really a candidate for the type of body piercing you’re seeking. In some cases, he may tell you that the conditions aren’t appropriate.

For instance, if there is damage to the cartilage or heavy scarring in the area you want pierced. He will also tell you if you have a current cut or skin condition that means you should postpone piercing. If this is the case, in order to protect your health and prevent possible problems down the line, he will not go any farther with the procedure. If everything looks fine, he’ll tell you so and you’ll move on to the next step.

He’ll change to a fresh pair of gloves after having handled your skin to examine the area.
He will clean the area to be pierced with an antibacterial solution.
He will mark the area to be pierced with a sterile, disposable marker.
You’ll have the opportunity to check the marking (in a mirror if necessary) before he proceeds to the piercing stage.
He will ask you if you are ready for the piercing procedure and allow you a moment to get comfortable.
He will arrange his tools at hand and open the sterile package with the piercing needle.

And now, you’re ready for the real deal — the piercing itself!

But first, a word about those piercing needles…

Piercing needles are not your average sewing needle or push-pin. Piercing needles are highly specialized and were designed specifically to pierce the flesh while causing the least amount of pain possible. They also help encourage faster and cleaner healing than a regular needle.

These needles also come in a variety of gauges suited for specific types of piercings. For instance, if you are getting a nipple pierced, the piercer will probably not want to use anything smaller than a 12 gauge (the smaller the gauge, the larger the needle), while a lip or nostril could be pierced with a 14 or 16 gauge. Thicker gauges prevent migration in areas prone to this movement of the jewelry, and prevent tear-out of piercings in more delicate flesh.

Piercing needles are made from surgical steel — the same material that hospital scalpels and lancets are made from. This ensures that they are biocompatible with all skin types and won’t cause an allergic reaction. They are also extremely sharp because they are laser cut with precision edges so that they slice cleanly through the skin without tearing or pulling. The piercing needles are hollow rather than solid so that they actually cut a tiny hole through the skin being pierced rather than punching through the skin.

These hollow needles leave a clean-edged, precise hole in the flesh that will heal relatively quickly, while a regular needle (which is much duller by comparison) actually pushes its way through the skin, tearing and bruising the skin along the way.

This is why a professional piercing needle provides a much less painful piercing with minimal bruising, and is much safer and easier for your body.

The main event — the body piercing

The basic procedure is the same for most piercings, but all piercers have their own way of handling the process. Some piercers will clamp the area with forceps to stabilize the area before putting the needle through, while others prefer to use a steady hand and their own eyes to guide the needle. If the person being pierced seems like they may flinch, it is more likely the forceps or surgical pliers of some type will be used to steady the area and hold the skin in place. This doesn’t hurt, and is simply to make sure you don’t get a crooked placement.

When the needle is lined up with the marking, the piercer will ask one last time if you are ready, and then quickly push the needle through. Some piercers use a cork as a backing, others don’t. This usually only takes a moment and feels like someone is pinching the skin hard. In most cases, the build-up to the moment is far worse than the actual piercing. Areas that are more sensitive include the genital area and the bridge of the nose.

Starter jewelry needs to be high quality

After the needle is removed, the starter jewelry is immediately put into place. One of the most important things to know about starter jewelry is that it is being put into an open wound, which is what a fresh piercing really is. Obviously, you don’t want your starter jewelry to be something that can cause an allergic reaction or infection.

There are three materials recognized by professional piercers as acceptable for starter jewelry for their high quality, purity and their low incidence of allergic reactions:

Surgical Steel
Titanium
14K or 18K gold

Other materials are more likely to cause either an allergic reaction, rejection of the piercing by your body, or migration of the piercing.

Starter jewelry is generally a captive bead ring or barbell. The piercer will choose an appropriate size for the area that is slightly larger than what you would normally wear to allow for some swelling, which is normal for the first several days after a new piercing. He will screw the ends onto the new jewelry and make sure it is securely in place.

At this point, the piercer will remove this set of gloves and put on another fresh set, clean the area around the new piercing and examine it one last time. He will let you take a look at your new body jewelry while he explains the aftercare and any potential problems you should watch for. He will also give you a sheet of detailed aftercare instructions to take home with you.

Before you leave, take a few moments to relax either in the piercing room or the waiting room, as sometimes the adrenalin rush and its aftermath can leave you feeling a bit light-headed. Once you feel steady and sure of yourself, it is a good idea to get something like fruit juice to drink or a light snack. Your piercing is done!

What if I want to try body piercing myself?

If you love body modification, you may be considering piercing yourself. It’s really not a good idea for a number of reasons. If you want to try piercing, do it the right way — become a fully trained, licensed professional. Without the proper training and an understanding of proper sterilization techniques you risk scarring, infection, and permanent damage to the area.

Using makeshift piercing tools like sewing needles is also a great risk because they simply cannot be sterilized properly. Even heating over an open flame (such as a lighter) will not kill all bacteria. The only guaranteed way to kill all germs is with an autoclave or by using packaged, sterile surgical needles. Even then, the entire area and all tools must be sterilized properly.

If you are truly interested in piercing, consider it not as a hobby or a momentary activity but as a career. Becoming an apprentice at a piercing parlor means learning proper technique and learning a trade at the same time, combining your interests with a way to make a living.