Body piercings are becoming a popular method of body modification. Are you concerned that your new piercing might get infected? Around 20% of all body piercings end up with infections. The most common piercings are the ears, mouth, nose, eyebrows and now even the genitals. Let’s see a piercing aftercare guide for fast and easy healing.
In order to avoid a nasty infection, you will have to learn how to care for your new piercing. As soon as you get your piercing, the aftercare process starts. Where do you begin? What products do you use to help prevent infection?
If you want to know more about how to care for your new piercing, then read on for our guide to piercing aftercare.
Table of Contents
General Piercing Aftercare
You should always follow a basic aftercare routine when you get a new piercing.
- Start by washing your hands with antibacterial, unscented soap. Make sure you clean under your fingernails to avoid any transfer of bacteria to your piercing.
- Prepare your cleaning solution. Your piercer will be able to recommend a saline solution to clean your piercing.
- Clean the piercing and surrounding area with the solution then rinse with warm water.
- Leave to air dry or pat dry with paper towels. Fabric towels can harbour bacteria, so it’s best to avoid them when drying your piercing.
Try to clean your piercing once a day. Do not exceed this as it could irritate and dry out the piercing. Although it may be tempting, avoid using hydrogen peroxide and alcohol solutions. They will dry out your piercing and lower the number of white cells that are essential for healing your piercing site. This can slow down the healing process and irritate your skin.
Do not use cotton balls or cotton swabs as the fibres can get caught on the piercing and lead to infection. Soak or rinse your piercing with your chosen solution instead of dabbing it with a cotton swab or ball.
Stay hydrated and take care of your body whilst your piercing is healing. Get a good amount of sleep, eat nutritious food and drink plenty of water. All of these things will help speed up the healing process.
Specific Piercing Aftercare
Different areas of your body will require specific attention and cleaning. Make sure you follow your piercer’s instructions and clean your piercing with the recommended products.
Nose Piercing Aftercare
Nose piercings require more delicate care than other body piercings. They are more prone to infections than other types of piercings because of their location. The best way to care for your new nose piercing is to make a lukewarm sea salt solution.
Once you have made the sea salt solution, you can pour it into a shot glass or egg cup. Tilt your head back and place the cup of solution over your nose piercing until it is fully submerged. You can soak your piercing like this for up to 15 minutes before rinsing with lukewarm water.
Avoid using paper towels and cotton balls on your nose piercing. The tiny fibres can get stuck to the jewellery or piercing site and cause irritation. Nose piercings can vary in terms of how long they take to heal. It can take anywhere from 3-6 months or longer for the piercing to fully heal.
If you experience bumps, redness or soreness then you may be allergic to your jewellery. Bumps are very common and usually occur when you irritate the piercing site. They are non-permanent and will disappear within a few weeks as long as you continue to bathe your piercing in saline solution.
Contact your piercer if you are worried about your piercing. Whether you have your nostril, septum or bridge piercing it is important to follow good aftercare guidance for a speedy recovery.
Septum Piercing Aftercare
The septum is becoming one of the most popular places to get pierced. You may experience bruising and swelling after getting your septum pierced. To soothe this you can apply a cold compress using a clean washcloth. Make sure you rinse your piercing afterwards to remove any fibres or bacteria.
Speak to your piercer about the right type of jewellery for your piercing, as poorly fitting jewellery can cause problems. Certain materials such as nickel can cause an allergic reaction, so try to ask for surgical steel jewellery.
As with other nose piercings, keep your septum piercing clean to avoid infections and speed up healing. You can also mist your septum 3-6 times a day with saline solution spray during the healing process.
Try to avoid touching the piercing where possible. Use clean tissues to blow your nose and blow very gently. It is best not to touch your jewellery unless you are cleaning it.
Ear Piercing Aftercare
It is unsurprising that 83% of Americans have their ears pierced. As with other piercings, you should keep your hands clean when you are caring for your pierced ears. Clean your ears regularly throughout the day and rotate the earrings but only when they are wet. Rotating the earrings will help prevent the skin from healing over the earring.
Be careful when brushing your hair or getting dressed. Bumping or knocking your earrings can cause pain and irritation. If you play sports regularly, it may be a good idea to place some tape or a bandaid over your earrings to protect them.
It is not recommended to go swimming until 6 weeks after your ears have been pierced. Swimming pools, hot tubs and the ocean can be carriers of bacteria so it’s best to avoid them while your piercing is in the early stages of healing.
For the first six months, try to avoid removing your earrings for longer than 24 hours. You don’t want your piercing to heal over!
Nipple Piercing Aftercare
Nipple piercings are delicate and can take a long time to heal. Unlike your ears or nose, the nipple tissue is much more sensitive and close to more blood vessels.
A nipple piercing can take up to 12 months to heal, so it’s crucial that you care for it in the correct way in the first few weeks. Rinse your piercing in lukewarm water a few times a day to wash away any bacteria. Use unscented soap and try to let it air dry.
Soak the piercing in a sea salt solution for 5 minutes each day. Try to wear loose clothing that will allow the piercing to get fresh air. Tight clothing can rub and irritate the piercing and prevent it from healing properly. At nighttime, wear a vest or bra to protect the piercing as you move around in your sleep.
If bleeding and swelling continue after a few weeks, contact your piercer to talk about solutions. A little discomfort is normal, so it is important to continue your aftercare and keep your piercing clean in the first few weeks to prevent infection.
The same guidance in this article also applies to other sensitive piercing areas such as the genitals.
Aftercare Products and Solutions
You don’t need to spend lots of money buying piercing aftercare solutions. However, it is handy to know the most effective products you should be using in order to keep your piercing clean. If you are unsure what you should be using, consult with your piercer.
When buying soap for your piercing aftercare, look for gentle, anti-microbial and unscented soaps. Soaps with heavy fragrances can irritate the piercing site and prevent it from healing properly. Look for paraben-free, glycerin soap in your local pharmacy.
Salt Soak Solution
Most piercers will recommend you soak your piercing in a sea salt solution. You can make this at home by using non-iodized salt and boiled water. Non-iodized salt is unprocessed salt.
It is important to use non-iodized salt as table salt contains anti-caking agents and other additives. Sea salt also contains minerals that could cause problems with your piercing.
Sterile Saline Solution
A sterile saline solution consists of salt and water. For nose piercings and other piercings that often come into contact with bacteria, a saline soak or bath will greatly benefit the healing process.
You can buy the saline solution as a spray or liquid. For the maximum benefits, it is best to use the liquid and bathe your piercing regularly.
Take Charge of Your Piercing Aftercare
There are many myths and pieces of advice out there that could spell disaster for your piercing. Make sure you consult with your piercer to find out the best course of piercing aftercare that works for you. If you are worried that you have an infection, consult with your doctor as soon as you can.
Did you find this article useful? Read more of our blog posts for extra information on piercings and aftercare solutions.