Table of Contents
– Cleaning Solutions
– Cleaning Instructions
– What is Normal?
– What To Do
– What To Avoid
- Packaged sterile saline is a gentle choice for piercing aftercare. Mixing your own sea salt solution is no longer a suggested practice. It is strongly encouraged to use a sterile saline labeled for use as a wound wash. Contact lens saline, eye drops, and other saline products should never be used on a body piercing. The saline ingredients should list .09% sodium chloride as the only ingredient.
Mixing your own sea salt solution will commonly result in the product being far too salty and strong, this can over dry the piercing and interfere with healing.
CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS FOR BODY PIERCINGS
- WASH your hands thoroughly prior to cleaning or touching your piercing for any reason.
- SALINE rinse twice a day during healing. For certain placements it may be easier to apply using clean gauze saturated with saline solution. A brief rinse afterward will remove any residue.
- DRY by gently patting with clean, disposable paper products because cloth towels can harbor bacteria and snag on jewelry, causing injury. It is not necessary to rotate jewelry through the piercing.
WHAT IS NORMAL?
- Initially: some bleeding, localized swelling, tenderness, or bruising.
- 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 odorous bodily secretions may accumulate.
- 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
- Leave your piercing alone except when cleaning. If there is any reason to handle your piercing, do so after thoroughly washing your hands. During healing it is not necessary to rotate your jewelry
- 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
- Avoid cleaning with alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, antibacterial soaps, 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. Or, protect your piercing using a waterproof wound sealant bandage. These are available at most drugstores and work best for nipple, navel, and surface piercing placements.
Avoid all beauty and personal care products on or around the piercing including cosmetics, lotions, and sprays, etc.
- Don’t hang charms or any object from your jewelry until the piercing is fully healed.
- Sleeping directly on a healing cartilage piercing can cause irritation, even causing shifts in the piercing’s angle. Placing a travel pillow, on top of your pillow, and then placing your ear in the opening can be helpful to avoid this.
- The healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal.
- Get enough sleep.
- To help healing and bolster your ability to fight infection, eat a nutritious
- Avoid emotional stress, which can increase healing times by up to 40%.
GENERAL JEWELRY INFO
- Unless there is a problem with the size, style, or material of the initial jewelry, leave it in place for the entire healing period.
- Contact your piercer for a non-metallic jewelry alternative if your metal jewelry must be temporarily removed (such as for a medical procedure).
- Leave jewelry in at all times. Even healed piercings that you have had for years can shrink or close in minutes.
- With clean hands or paper products, be sure to regularly check threaded and threadless ends on your jewelry for tightness.
- 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 may be left in place to allow for drainage of the infection, if approved by your physician. On rare occasions, when the jewelry is removed, the surface cells close up, which can seal the infection inside the piercing channel and result in an abscess. Until an infection is cleared up, discuss with your physician if you should leave in quality jewelry or an appropriate substitute.
- A hard, vented eye patch (sold at pharmacies) can be applied under tight clothing (such as nylon stockings) or secured using a length of elastic bandage around the body (to avoid irritation from adhesive). This can protect the area from restrictive clothing, excess irritation, and impact during physical activities such as contact sports.
- Use a travel pillow.
- Maintain cleanliness of telephones, headphones, eyeglasses, helmets, hats, and anything that contacts the pierced area.
- Use caution when styling your hair and advise your stylist of a new or healing piercing.
- The support of a tight cotton shirt or sports bra may provide protection and feel comfortable, especially for sleeping.
- Genital Piercings – Can bleed freely for the first few days. Be prepared. Additional cleaning after urination is not necessary.
- 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 long-term 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 rinse is suggested.
ORAL CLEANING SOLUTIONS
- Use any or all of the following solutions for inside the mouth:
- Alcohol-free and hydrogen peroxide-free mouth rinse.
- Plain clean water. Bottled or filtered water is preferred.
- Wash your hands thoroughly prior to cleaning or touching your piercing for any reason.
- Keeping good oral hygiene practices is important in maintaining a healthy mouth and piercing. You will want to floss, brush and use mouth rinse at least twice a day.
- Gently brush the jewelry with a clean toothbrush regularly to avoid plaque build up.
- Rinse with water (bottled or filtered) thoroughly after every time you eat, drink or smoke.
- Wash your hands thoroughly prior to cleaning or touching your piercing for any reason.
- Be sure to rinse your piercing thoroughly with warm water in the shower once a day. Then rinse with saline twice a day.
- Gently remove any discharge or crust that may have built up on your jewelry, then dry the area carefully with gauze.
- Use a new soft-bristled toothbrush and store it in a clean area away from other toothbrushes.
- Brush your teeth and use your chosen rinse (saline or mouthwash) after every meal.
- During healing floss daily, and gently brush your teeth, tongue and jewelry. Once healed, brush the jewelry more thoroughly to avoid plaque build up.
- Allow small pieces of ice to dissolve in the mouth.
- Take an over the counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) such as ibuprofen according to package instructions.
- Don’t speak or move your jewelry more than necessary.
- Sleep with your head elevated above your heart during the first few nights.
- Sleep with your head elevated in the beginning to minimize overnight swelling.
- Once the swelling has subsided, it is vital to replace the original, longer jewelry with a shorter post or barbell to avoid damage to the teeth and gums.
- Because this necessary jewelry change often occurs during healing, it should be done by a qualified piercer. This information should have been given to you during the piercing. If not, consult with a professional piercer about your downsize.
- With clean hands or paper products, be sure to regularly check threaded ends on your jewelry for tightness. For threadless jewelry make sure there is no gap between the post (inside) to the top (outside). In case of a gap, place your index finger and thumb on both sides of the jewelry and press them together. Be sure to check that the gap is closed.
- Contact your piercer for a non-metallic jewelry alternative if your metal jewelry must be temporarily removed.
- Take your time eating until you are used to the piercing and the jewelry is downsized to prevent irritation or prolonged healing.
- Avoid eating spicy, salty, acidic, or hot temperature foods or beverages for the first two weeks.
- Cold foods and beverages can be soothing and help reduce swelling.
- For labret (cheek and lip) piercings: be cautious about opening your mouth too wide as this can result in the jewelry catching on your teeth.
WHAT TO AVOID
- Do not play with your jewelry. Long term effects include permanent damage to teeth and gums.
- Avoid trauma; excessive talking or playing with jewelry can cause scar tissue, migration, and other complications.
- Avoid using mouthwash containing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. It can irritate the piercing and delay healing.
- Avoid oral sexual contact including wet kissing or oral sex during healing.
- Avoid chewing on tobacco, gum, fingernails, pencils, sunglasses, and other foreign objects that could harbor bacteria.
Avoid sharing plates, cups, and eating utensils.
- Avoid using straws. Straw use can increase the risk of swelling and bleeding.
- Minimize the intake of smoking and vaping (tobacco or cannabis). It increases risks and prolongs healing time.
- Avoid aspirin, alcohol, and large amounts of caffeine as long as you are experiencing bleeding or swelling.
- Each body is unique and healing times vary considerably. If you have any questions, please contact your piercer.