Tips for Taking Care of Piercings

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • In recent years, piercing has become more mainstream and it isn't just pierced ears. Many people choose to have eyebrows, lips, noses or belly buttons pierced. And with this new trend comes the need to learn how to take care of piercings; to help them heal and to make sure they don't become infected.


    The following are some tips that will help you with caring for body piercings:


    Ask your piercer for instructions on after-care. Most reputable piercers will have written after-care instructions they will give you when the piercing is complete. Although many people may lose, throw away or ignore these directions once they leave the shop, the first step to taking care of new piercings is to read the instructions and follow them carefully.

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    Use a salt water soak once per day. This step can dramatically speed up healing time. Use mild sea salt - about ¼ teaspoon in one cup of warm water. If possible, invert the cup over the piercing area and hold in place for a couple of minutes. If it isn't possible to hold the cup over the area, use a cotton ball soaked in the salt water and apply directly to the piercing.


    Before cleaning the area, thoroughly wash your hands with an antibacterial soap. Rinse the area with warm water to remove any dust, dirt or "crusties" that are around the piercing.


    New piercings should be cleaned twice a day. Many people clean the area in the morning and again at night. Cleaning more often may cause drying and irritation. Use the solution given to you by your piercer or a mild, liquid antimicrobial soap. Be sure to clean both the area around the piercing and the piercing itself.


    For tongue and lip piercings, avoid smoking and drinking alcohol for at least one week. You should also void kissing and oral sex during the entire healing process. These types of activities can cause irritation, increased swelling, infection or discomfort. You may notice a small amount of white discharge or yellow film on your tongue for several days after the piercing. This is normal, however, if you are concerned about the amount of discharge or the yellow film does not go away within a few days, you may need to see your doctor. Oral antibiotics are frequently necessary for infections from tongue piercings.


    Additional tips for tongue and lip piercings include brushing your teeth with a soft bristle brush and make sure you remove all food particles that could cause infection. Use a mouthwash after meals to reduce your risk of infection. Eating cold foods, such as ice cream or chipped ice can help decrease swelling and aid in healing.


    If you experience pain or swelling at the piercing site, over-the-counter ibuprofen may help.


    Avoid swimming in pools, lakes or submerging your body in water while your piercing is healing.


    For belly-button piercings, wear loose fitting clothes, preferably cotton clothing as it allows the piercing to breath, for approximately one month or throughout the healing process.


    Avoid touching your new piercing without first washing your hands with antibacterial soap. You should only touch your piercing when cleaning it.


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    Do not change the jewelry until your piercing has completely healed. If you have questions about whether or not you can safely change your jewelry, go back to your piercer and have him or her look at it. The first time you change the jewelry, the piercer should be willing to help you. Some may suggest you come in the first time you are changing jewelry so they can supervise and help if needed.


    Understand what is normal and what you should be concerned about. You may experience some bleeding, bruising, discoloration, swelling or some discharge from the pierced site. The area may also be tender when touched or you may feel a stinging or burning sensation. All of this may last several days to several weeks.




    Based on an interview with Steven Morris, tattoo and piercing artist. Interview conducted February 13, 2012.




Published On: February 24, 2012