Piercings are a form of body art that has been around for eons. From its origins 5,000 years ago to now, piercings are either fringe or mainstream, depending on where you are in the world. But what doesn’t vary, is how to take proper care of your body piercings.
These days, the variety seems endless. Specialty shops not only pierce ears, but also eyebrows, nose, tongue, navel, and more. After the procedure, what does it take to ensure it stays clean and looks great for life? What should you look for when choosing a piercing specialist? And how do you properly take care of a fresh piercing? This article unpacks it all.
Table of Contents
Choosing the right body piercing specialist
The era when friends pierced their ears with a needle and a potato should probably stay a nostalgic memory. Piercings should always be done via appointment with an experienced piercer. Piercing itself is invasive—after all, you are making a hole in your body and slipping a charm through it. It’s an art and a science. This is why choosing a piercing specialist with precision and skill is essential.
Selecting a piercing specialist should always be a conscious and well-thought-out decision. When checking out piercers in your area, let client reviews and comments guide you through your search.
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- What are others saying about them?
- What is the star rating?
- How well do artists listen to the client’s wishes?
- How is the cleanliness level and protocol?
- How long have they been piercing?
You may also want to take a look at what sorts of body jewelry your piercer offers. Always look for materials that won’t react with the body, such as stainless steel, titanium, gold, or platinum.
But above all, the most important point is choosing an establishment with sterile conditions. Finding a piercer who follows hygiene standards is the basis, which will help ensure the trouble-free healing of your piercing. So make sure to assess your piercing environment and always go for a piercer that follows all sanitation guidelines, keeping your safety in mind.
Caring for your piercing
The way your piercing heals isn’t only influenced by choosing the right piercing specialist, but also by how you take care of it. Always follow any aftercare instructions provided by your piercer. For quick and problem-free healing, avoid contamination. Freshly pierced skin requires gentle but consistent care, and the basis is keeping it clean—so rule number one, keep your hands off the piercing site!
Having said that, there are times when touching your piercing will be necessary, like cleaning or changing the body jewelry (which we’ll get into next). In this case, it is critical to thoroughly wash your hands with soap beforehand.
How to clean your piercing
When letting the natural healing process run its course, it’s important to keep both the piercing site and the body jewelry itself clean. The site may produce discharge or crust so clean the site 2 to 3 times a day, or as often as there is discharge.
The preferred method of cleaning piercings is by using a sea salt solution. You’ll be able to find this at most pharmacies, however, you can also easily make it at home. To make your own sea salt rinse, pour a cup of warm water into a container or cup—distilled or bottled water is best! Then add about 1/4 of a teaspoon of sea salt and stir to dissolve.
To clean the piercing site:
- Dip a piece of sterile gauze into the sea salt solution
- Apply it as a compress to your piercing.
- (For hard-to-reach places and smaller areas) Use a cotton swab, gently wiping away any debris.
If you don’t have access to saline solution, mild soap and water will do as a substitute. But avoid using products like hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, tea tree oil, or antiseptic sprays which are harsh on the skin and can cause irritation.
After each cleaning, it’s important to pat the area dry. But don’t go reaching for your usual towel! Fabric towels can harbor bacteria that can come into contact with the piercing site. And not to mention, your piercing can get caught in the towel’s fibers. Ouch. So instead, use a piece of paper towel to dab the area.
While your piercing heals, it’s normal to experience some crust, discoloration, or even itching. However contact your doctor if you notice severe redness, swelling, pain, or pus at the piercing site, as these may be signs of infection.
What to avoid with body piercings
Although keeping your piercing clean is the first commandment of aftercare, there are a few more guidelines that you’ll want to keep in mind. So what else is there to remember? Here are a few things tips.
- Skip the swim sesh. Avoid submerging pierced areas in pools, hot tubs, lakes, rivers, or the ocean. These bodies of water could contain bacteria that can contribute to infection.
- Hands off. Keep the piercing site away from contact with other people’s bodily fluids during the healing process.
- Sit back and relax. Refrain from rough, strenuous, or any activities that could accidentally displace your body jewelry or cause injury.
- Go au-naturel. Fragrances and cosmetics can irritate the piercing site, so avoid using these types of products near the affected area.
- Last call. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, smoking, and drugs will help your piercing heal faster without irritation and complications.
- Stay shaded. While your piercing is healing, try to stay out of the sun as best as possible and avoid using the tanning bed.
The healing process
So what does a normal healing process even look like? In the first 7 to 14 days, it’s common to experience some bleeding, swelling at the piercing site, light bruising, tenderness, and redness. During this time, the area may feel hypersensitive to the touch. After about 2 weeks, slight swelling may still remain, and your piercing site may secrete a whitish-yellow fluid.
The good news is this is all normal. Of course, the time frame for the healing process will be different for everyone since everyone’s body reacts differently. However, you should always keep in mind, that even though a piercing may look healed on the outside, the inside tissue may still be healing. That’s why it’s safe to assume a 3-month recovery period for many body piercings (unless otherwise specified by your piercer).
Changing your body piercing jewelry
Until your piercing is completely healed, you should stick with your starter piece of body jewelry. Taking the piercing out before it has fully healed can lead to damage and can lengthen the healing process. But once you’re finally ready to swap it out, it’s best to select jewelry made from hypoallergenic metals.
The process of changing your body jewelry can look a bit different depending on what type of body jewelry you have. However, for the most part, you’ll want to open the closure of your piercing, take out the old body jewelry, clean the area, and then replace it with your new piece.
Now that you know all there is to know about piercing aftercare, are you ready to book an appointment to your local piercing studio? Check out the best piercing studios near you on Booksy.