piercings, piercing care, piercing aftercare, piercings, alternative style, alternative

Piercing Aftercare 101

So, you did it, you went out and got that piercing that you’ve been lusting over for months. Congratulations! If you’re like me, you’re currently looking back on the whole situation surprised by how much less painful it was than you had hyped it up to be (that was my most recent piercing hands down). Now it’s time for the next step – learning the proper piercing aftercare for your newest addition.

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Whether you’ve just had your ears pierced for the first time, are rocking a stylish facial piercing or decided to add a little fun to life by getting something pierced below the belt, there are steps you should be taking to keep your piercing clean and free from infection.

Many people overlook the health risks posed by body piercings when things go wrong. It is for this reason that you should take the time to research your piercer prior to setting up your appointment. You want to ensure that they are working in a clean and sterile environment, taking steps to keep you safe and that they are knowledgeable at their craft. For example, avoid piercers that will use a gun for any type of body piercing. This should always be done with a needle for best results.

Always Wash Your Hands

Prior to cleaning your piercing, changing the jewelry or touching the piercing for any reason, always take the time to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. We can pick up a wide variety of bacteria and germs on our hands throughout the day, and a fresh piercing is an open wound just waiting for infection. Proper piercing aftercare starts with eliminating the risk of dirt, grime and bacteria at the source. 

Clean Your Piercing with An Effective Cleaning Solution

This doesn’t mean that you have to purchase a commercial cleaning solution, although there are some great products out there. If you are purchasing a cleaning solution, avoid heavy chemical formulas. Instead, opt for a packaged sterile saline with no additives. Alternatively, you can make a cleaning solution at home by dissolving ¼ of a teaspoon of sea salt into a cup of warm distilled water. For oral piercings (cheek, lip, tongue) use an alcohol-free antiseptic mouthwash.

Soak Your Piercing with the Solution

When you are using the solution to clean your piercing, it’s not enough to simply wipe it down or pour the solution over it. Instead, you want to give the solution time to work. The Association of Professional Piercers (APP) recommends soaking the piercing for 5-10 minutes, 1-2 times each day. For many piercings, this can be done by putting the solution into a cup, bowl or container (shape and size depend on the location of the piercing) and holding it in place. Some, however, are nearly impossible to soak in this way. For these hard to reach piercings, soak clean gauze or paper towels in the solution and then apply them to the piercing.

For oral piercings, you should rinse your mouth thoroughly with the mouthwash after every meal, and again before you go to bed. These piercings are not only exposed to daily bacteria, but also food particles and plaque. For this reason, they will require additional care.

Be Careful in the Shower

This is one that is often overlooked, but incredibly important. Consider, for a moment, that your piercer likely recommended not using any harsh soaps or soaps with dyes or fragrances on your piercing. If you’re in the shower and rinsing that fragrance filled body wash off, right over your piercing, aren’t you doing exactly the opposite? Piercing aftercare considerations don’t end after considering what you’re directly exposing your piercing to, but also the indirect exposures! If you have a piercing like a VCH or a belly button piercing, you may need to make some changes to the products that you are using during the healing process to avoid irritation. Personally, I made the switch to a dye and fragrance-free soap and was very thankful for it!

Further to this, and I learned this one from experience (painful experience) you may want to skip using that loofa for awhile following a body piercing… They catch jewelry REALLY easy and if they do snag, it can cause a lot of pain, or worse. While I didn’t experience any long-term damage to my piercing personally, I have read stories of people who literally tore their piercing out accidentally in this way. It’s not worth the risk!

Pay Attention to Your Clothing Choices

Another point that many people overlook (I did). As you are getting used to rocking a new piercing, especially if it happens to be somewhere that is regularly in contact with your clothing, then you may want to put a little extra thought into the clothing that you’re wearing.  For example, pants with a tight waistband may put unnecessary pressure on a new belly button piercing. Meanwhile, lace panties may lead to a similar experience to the loofa discussion above.

Clean Bedding is Important

If you are going out of your way to keep your piercing clean, it would be rather counterproductive to then climb into dirty sheets exposing your piercing to germs and bacteria all night. You should be changing and washing your bedding regularly anyway, it’s a key step to better skin, but this is even more important following a new piercing. Don’t forget your pillowcase.

Avoid Sleeping on Your Piercing

Not only should you ensure that your bedding is clean and fresh, but you also need to pay attention to the way that you are sleeping. Sleeping on a piercing can lead to a whole list of problems including irritation bumps, migration, and rejection. During the healing phase, do whatever is necessary to avoid sleeping directly on the piercing site. If you are the type of person who often rolls over during the night, you can use pillows to prop yourself up and hold yourself in place.

Don’t Jump to Change Jewelry

It may be tempting to head out shopping right away, picking up all the prettiest and unique jewelry options that you can get your hands on, but don’t be too quick to start changing it up. A professional piercer will use high-quality jewelry that will keep your piercing safe from infection or irritation, and it should be left in place throughout the entire healing process. If you do notice that there is a problem during this time, contact your piercer to have them make the necessary changes. When the piercing has healed, pay attention to the quality of the jewelry that you’re purchasing. Cheap costume jewelry can cause serious irritation, allergic reactions and more.

A Healthy Lifestyle Means A Healthy Piercing

If you want to give your piercing the best chance possible to heal properly, then you need to take steps to keep yourself healthy as a whole. This means getting enough sleep and eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet. You should be okay to exercise following the piercing but pay attention to what your body is telling you. If a specific activity is causing pain or irritation, then you may have to hold off for a while and go with something else. Piercing aftercare if about more than just the piercing itself!

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

If you have any questions, regardless of how big or small they may be, don’t be afraid to ask them. Your piercer is a professional, and they have likely heard it all before! It’s better to ask that ‘silly question’ and get a solid answer than to be left wandering and possibly make an avoidable mistake. Remember, this is your body and your health!

piercings, piercing care, piercing aftercare, piercings, alternative style, alternative

I’d love to hear about your piercing aftercare experiences! Do you have any tips and tricks your piercer shared that I left off the list? Share them in the comments below…

13 thoughts on “Piercing Aftercare 101”

  1. I don’t have any piercings! Not even my ears! So, this was so interesting to read to understand them more. I’ll definitely come back to this if I ever get one.

    Faye Jessica | fayejessica.co.uk

  2. This is such an interesting post Britt! I had no idea that diet and sleep had anything to do with piercings. Really fascinating! When I had my belly bar put in, I used to balance a glass upside down on my belly that was full of salty water and it worked so well. Although, it never bled or anything! I was very lucky, but I wish I had these tips cos I love all this aftercare stuff it feels like pampering! XOX

    1. It is definitely a form of pampering, that’s a great way of looking at it. We need to spend a little more time taking care of ourselves, and this is a great reason to do so… Plus that means you get a new piercing out of the whole arrangement too lol

  3. These are such great tips Britt! I don’t have any now, but I used to have my ear, tongue and lip done for many years. Definitely agree that you need to be careful. I remember biting my tongue so many times whilst eating when I first had it done and it was pretty painful. Also, cats/children and piercings don’t mix well he he. Great post and fantastic advice, thanks for sharing <3 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

    1. A friend of mine told me a horror story about her brother getting his nipples pierced, and then having them ripped out by a kid…. I can’t even imagine!

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