Basics of Piercing Care

We like to remind our clients that our bodies are very good at what they do, so when it comes to caring for healing piercings, keeping things simple tends to be better. With this in mind, the most important part of taking care of healing piercings is to not touch with unclean fingers, and do not twist, turn, or rotate jewelry. Touching our piercings will introduce bacteria to that open wound -the #1 cause of infection- and moving jewelry will only drag bacteria through and cause damage to the tissue.

While piercings are healing it's very important to avoid the use of any harsh products, like Bactine, Neosporin, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or witch hazel. Products like these are not appropriate for puncture wounds, and will irritate and prevent piercings from healing. Creams, oils, and ointments are also good to avoid. Do not use tea tree oil on your piercings.

Piercing Healing Times

Healing times vary from person to person, and can be affected by factors like climate, stress levels, diet, and travel. These are meant to be general timeframes, and your piercing may take longer to completely heal.

Cleaning Your Piercing

You will be doing two things every day for the duration of your healing time to care for piercings: a warm saline soak or compress, and using a mild liquid soap for cleaning.

Saline Soaks or Compresses

Saline soaks or compresses should be done 1-3 times a day for the full healing period. 

Packaged sterile saline solution is a clean, convenient option for helping promote easier healing. You can find packaged wound wash or wound flush saline at most piercing studios and pharmacy-based stores like Walgreens and CVS. Contact lens saline and nasal saline are not appropriate for healing piercings. 

-Spray saline into whatever small clean cup, bowl or dish is the most comfortable for you -enough solution to allow the piercing to be fully submerged- and microwave for 2-3 seconds, just until it is warm.

-Fully submerge the piercing into the solution for 5-10 minutes, and then rinse with cool, clean water. Rinsing is important to remove any discharge.

-For compresses, use individually packaged sterile saline wipes or sterile gauze saturated with saline solution -warmed in the microwave for 2-3 seconds- to apply gentle pressure on the piercing for 5-10 minutes. A brief rinse afterward will remove any discharge.

Soap

Using a mild, liquid soap once a day is good for keeping surface bacteria out of your piercing. Our preferred soaps are Dr. Bronner's unscented castile soap, or Cetaphil.

-While showering, lather up a pearl size drop of the soap and gently clean the surface around the piercing. It is not necessary to rotate the jewelry through the piercing.

-Let your piercing air dry, or dry by gently patting with clean, disposable paper products. Cloth towels can harbor bacteria and snag on jewelry, causing injury.

Oral Piercing Care

You will be rinsing your mouth 3-4 times a day for the duration of your healing. 

Saline Rinses

Packaged sterile saline solution is a clean, convenient option for helping promote easier healing. You can find packaged wound wash or wound flush saline at most piercing studios and pharmacy-based stores like Walgreens and CVS. Contact lens saline and nasal saline are not appropriate for healing piercings. 

-Spray saline directly into your mouth and "swish" for 30-60 seconds. Rinse after meals and before bedtime.

-Some clients prefer doing a soak or compress over a rinse, In this case follow the instructions listed above for saline soaks and compresses.

All piercings, especially oral, require slightly longer initial jewelry to accommodate for swelling. It is very important that you return to the studio once swelling has subsided to purchase shorter jewelry components. Ask your piercer when you should come back for downsizing.

To help reduce swelling

-Allow small pieces of ice to dissolve in your mouth.

-Take an over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory -such as Ibuprofen- according to package instructions.

-Sleep with your head elevated over your heart for the first few nights.

Some tips for oral piercings

-Slowly eat small bites of food, placed directly onto the molars.

-Avoid spicy, salty, acidic or hot temperature food and drink for a few days.

-Cold foods and beverage are soothing and help reduce swelling.

-Maintain good oral hygiene, and use a new soft-bristled toothbrush.

-Brush your teeth and rinse after every meal.

-Floss daily, and gently brush your teeth, tongue, and jewelry. Once healed, brush jewelry more thoroughly to prevent plaque buildup.

Helpful Hints

-Wash your hands prior to touching the piercing; leave it alone except when cleaning. 

-Stay healthy; the healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal. Get enough sleep and eat a nutritious diet. 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.

-Unless there is a problem with the size, style, or material of the initial jewelry, leave it in place for the entire healing period. See a qualified piercer to perform any jewelry change that becomes necessary during healing. 

-Contact your piercer if your jewelry must be removed (such as for a medical procedure). There are non-metallic jewelry alternatives available.

-Leave jewelry in at all times. Even old or well-healed piercings can shrink or close in minutes-even after having been there for years.

If removed, re-insertion can be difficult or impossible.

-With clean hands or paper product, be sure to regularly check threaded ends on your jewelry for tightness. (”Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.”)

-Carry a clean spare ball in case of loss or breakage.

-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 will remain.

-In the event an infection is suspected, quality jewelry or an inert alternative should be left in place to allow for drainage of the infection. If the jewelry is removed, the surface cells can close up, which can seal the infection inside the piercing channel and result in an abscess. Do not remove jewelry unless instructed to by a medical professional.

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