Aftercare Instructions: Caring for Your New Piercing!
Maintaining healthy habits is the key to healing your piercing fast and with ease. Habits that will help your piercing heal smoothly include a healthy diet, daily exercise, stress minimization, and adequate rest. Some people also find that taking a multi-vitamin can help them stay healthy and contribute to faster healing. Please note that aftercare is not meant to make your body heal or to treat a wound with medicine, but rather to keep the piercing clean and provide optimal conditions for your body to heal itself.
The following information and suggestions are based on the experience of our piercers and current industry standards. We are not medical professionals and our suggestions, whether written, verbal, stated or implied, should not be construed as medical advice or considered as a substitute. If you suspect an infection or other serious problem, seek medical attention, but please keep in mind that many medical professionals have not received specific training regarding piercing and that the removal of jewelry may lead to further complications.
During the initial healing, you can expect:
Swelling. Many piercings will be noticeably swollen for the first few days to a week, with residual swelling that will continue to decrease gradually in the first month. The original piece of jewelry may seem too long or too large – this extra length is to allow room to accommodate swelling that you may experience. When the swelling has subsided, it is important to have your jewelry shortened to something that fits better.
Initially: Some bleeding, localized swelling, redness, bruising or tenderness or soreness. This soreness can last anywhere from the first few days to weeks, sometimes even months for some piercing such as ear cartilage.
During healing: Itching, minimal redness, and secretion of a white, clear, or slightly yellow fluid, which often dries onto the jewelry. Some fluid secretion is normal during the healing period and will stop when the piercing is completely healed. The tissue may also tighten around the jewelry as the piercing heals.
Once healed: The jewelry may not move freely in the piercing. DO NOT force it. If you fail to include cleaning the piercing as part of your daily hygiene routine, normal but smelly bodily secretions may accumulate. A piercing may seem healed before healing is complete. This is because piercings heal from the outside in and while the piercing feels healed, the tissue on the inside remains fragile. Be patient and keep cleaning your piercing during the entire healing period.
Even healed piercings can shrink or close in minutes after having been there for years! If you like your piercing, leave jewelry in it at all times. Contact your piercer if jewelry must be temporarily removed (such as a medical procedure or for work/sports). There are non-metallic jewelry alternatives and options available to “hide” piercings, if needed.
Saline/Salt Water Soaks:
The best thing you can do for your piercing is a saline soak 2-4 times a day, completely submerging your piercing in the solution for 7-10 minutes. There are many packaged sterile saline solutions available, including Wound Wash and Blairex. Make sure you purchase one with NO additives and please note: contact solution does not count, as it is sterile saline with additives that are not appropriate for wound care.
You can also make your own saline solution by mixing ¼ teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt with 8 ounces of distilled or bottled water. This can also be done in a larger quantity by mixing 4 teaspoons of non-iodized sea salt into one gallon of distilled water. Remember to shake the gallon well before use.
Pour your sterile saline solution or mix your non-iodized sea salt and distilled water in a clean, disposable cup and warm in the microwave until the mixture is as warm as you can comfortably stand. Warmth is important, as it will help increase circulation in the area. Occasionally, with certain piercing placements and projects, your piercer might suggest cold water soaks for a period of time. If so, this will be verbalized to you and noted on this aftercare sheet.
It is crucial to submerge your piercing, if possible, because submersion will allow the solution to help remove crusted matter and discharge from your piercing. If the area is difficult to submerge, such as a surface piercing on the back of the neck, you can make a hot compress with disposable paper towels or gauze, but this method is not as effective as submerging the piercing. Regardless of your soaking method, rinse the piercing with clean water upon completion of your soak.
This sterile sea salt spray can be used in addition to a single saline soak a day, but does not replace saline soaks entirely. This product is designed to be used 3-6 times a day, when a saline soak is not practical, such as while working or in school. You can spray H2Ocean directly onto your piercing and if there is any crusted material, let the spray sit for 30 seconds, then gently use a clean cotton swab to wipe away the crusted material from your piercing.
In the shower:
At the end of your shower, after you have washed your hair and body, use a single pump of Naked Soap to gently clean your jewelry and the surrounding tissue. We prefer the Naked Soap because it is organic, great for sensitive skin, and is formulated especially for body piercings. (Salt water soaking your piercing immediately before your shower will loosen up crusted matter, making removal easy). Use your clean fingers or a clean cotton swab to clean the piercing area – do not use a washcloth or loofah. You should only be washing the outside of the piercing and the portion of the jewelry that is exposed. Do not turn, twist or rotate your jewelry, as all of these actions will delay the healing by damaging tissue that is trying to heal. Do not use your soap more than once or twice a day, as overuse can delay the healing period by stripping your skin of its natural oils.
After your shower, let the piercing air dry or use a disposable paper towel, clean gauze, or a cotton swab to dry your piercing. Avoid bath towels, as even clean towels can harbor bacteria or have residue from cleaning products that can irritate your piercing.
- Rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash after meals and after brushing your teeth (if this is part of your normal routine). Alcohol-based mouthwashes are too strong for use this often.
- Rinse with warm sea salt water solution after snacks and smoking. Sea salt water rinses will speed healing and ease the healing process.
- Avoid drinking alcohol for the first weeks. Alcohol will increase your swelling and can make your piercing bleed.
- Eat whatever is comfortable, starting off with smaller bites until you get comfortable eating with your new piercing. Be careful when eating, as your initial jewelry has extra length that you are likely to bite down on.
- Avoid oral contact, even if you are in a monogamous relationship, and keep other people’s body fluids off your new piercing. The bacteria on your body is different from the bacteria on other people’s bodies. The introduction of foreign bacteria can lead to infection.
- Cold items can help reduce swelling including sucking on shaved ice or ice chips and drinking cold beverages such as slushies. If you have a tongue piercing, avoid sucking on a straw for the first week.
- Reduce or stop smoking. Smokers may experience considerably longer healing times.
- Downsize your jewelry after the first 2-4 weeks. Your piercing was started with a longer piece to allow room for swelling, but continuing to wear the long jewelry after the swelling has gone down can lead to tooth and gum damage. Downsizing is the only time you should be changing your jewelry during the entire healing period.