How should I care for my piercing?

General Aftercare

Now that you’ve received your piercing, it’s your responsibility to take good care of it until your piercing fully heals.Your main responsibility is to actively keep your piercing from getting dirty in the first place. And yes, it is an active process, not just “doing nothing.” So what does this mean?

What to do:

    1. First, be as healthy as you can be.
      No one likes to hear it, but your nutrition, sleep habits, and hydration levels can and do affect healing. Make sure you eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and drink plenty of water. Avoiding alcohol, smoking, and other drugs will also benefit your piercing.
    2. Clean the piercing if it gets sweaty, dirty, or wet.
      When this happens, rinse the piercing with sterile wound wash saline (spray straight from the can), then pat dry with gauze. Cleaning more frequently than necessary does not benefit the piercing and can actually cause dryness.

    3. Protect your piercing in the shower
      Showering can introduce bacteria or irritants from shampoos, conditioners, soaps/body washes, etc. Tap water can have chlorine and hard minerals. These irritants can rinse into a piercing and cause swelling, prolonged healing, or even lead to scar tissue.

      Facial piercings can be kept out of the spray. Wash your face at the sink and use a clean washcloth or towelette to wipe around the piercing. Don’t splash, as this will rinse face wash into the piercing.

      Ear piercings can be covered with a plastic cup when rinsing hair.

      Body piercings are harder if not impossible to keep dry, so it’s imperative to limit what products come into contact. Shower with a soap that does not contain moisturizers, fragrances or antibacterial ingredients, such as an unscented castile soap (e.g. Dr. Bronner’s).

      Keep soap away from the piercing itself.

    4. Soothe with a cool compresses
      To ease discomfort and swelling, apply a cool, dry compress to your piercing for 5-10 minutes intervals. Gel type compresses from the pharmacy work well! Place a clean piece of gauze between your piercing and the compress for protection.
    5. Use a warm compress for better circulation
      Use a heating pad or hot water bottle for 5-10 minutes to increase circulation. Place a clean piece of gauze between your piercing and the compress for protection. If you’re experiencing swelling, use cold instead.
    6. Come in for a Checkup/Downsize
      As pros, we can help with potential problems and let you know how much longer your healing process should take. Many piercings also benefit from downsizing jewelry during healing
    7. Let us know if you have questions or concerns
      If anything isn’t clear, feel free to call or email! We’re here to help you through the healing process. Please let us know if your piercing hurts, has excessive swelling, or anything unexpected. We can offer advice to get things back on track.

What NOT to do:

  1. DON’T Touch it
    The main causes of infection are dirty fingers and dirty fluids. Keep both your and your friends fingers away.
  2. DON’T Soak it
    This will introduce bacteria and irritating chemicals, and waterlog your piercing. Waterlogged skin is more delicate and susceptible to damage. Soaking has never been shown to improve the healing process.
  3. DON’T Use cotton balls or swabs
    These products can leave irritating lint on and around your piercing and easily snag on your jewelry. Use non-woven sterile gauze instead.
  4. DON’T Mess with it
    DO NOT twist/turn the jewelry – it’s irritating, like picking a scab. If you notice a build-up of material on your jewelry – and the build-up is not attached to your skin – you can gently brush it off the jewelry with DRY sterile gauze.
  5. DON’T Use harsh chemicals
    No alcohol, peroxide, antibacterial soap, or ointments. DO NOT use moisturizing soaps like Dove and Olay or antibacterials like Dial. These soap additives leave a residue that builds up in piercing and can contribute to irritation bumps.
  6. DON’T Sleep on it
    Sleeping on piercings reduces circulation, delaying healing and causing swelling. The pressure may cause piercings to migrate or change their angle.
  7. DON’T Take your jewelry out
    If removed during the healing process, your piercing will close almost immediately. Once healed, it is safe to take your jewelry out long enough to change it, but not longer. As your piercing becomes more established, you’ll be able to leave it out for longer periods.This process can take a year or longer.If you need to disguise your piercing for work, or need a non-metallic option for surgery, we can help.

 Tips for Specific Piercings:

  • Ear cartilage (helix, tragus, front/forward helix, antihelix/rook, conch, daith, industrial, etc.) will get irritated from sleeping or banging it on something, and from chemicals like shampoo. It’s critical to avoid this irritation while the piercing is healing, as this can cause swelling, discomfort, and prolonged healing. Cool compresses are helpful to get things back on track. Sleeping with your head elevated can also help reduce swelling.
  • Genital piercings don’t require abstinence during the healing process, but protection is required. Use condoms, gloves, and dental dams to avoid infection. Avoid activities that hurt or cause discomfort while the piercing is still delicate and healing.
  • Nipple and navel piercings can be sealed with breathable, waterproof bandages such as Tegaderm™, or Bioclusive™. These bandages provide an optimal moist healing environment while protecting your piercing from bacteria and irritating chemicals. They are designed to be worn continually, and each individual bandage can last several days. These are a must if you plan to swim while your piercing is still healing.

Oral Aftercare (Lip & Tongue Piercings)

  1. Keep it cold
    The more ice you put on your piercing, the less swelling you get and the faster it goes away.
  2. Rinse with bottled water
    Anytime you eat or drink anything other than water, rinse your mouth with water until you don’t taste anything. This removes food residue and helps keep the bacteria in your mouth to a minimum. It also has the nice side effect of keeping your breath fresher.
  3. Brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush and water
    Do not use toothpaste while your piercing is healing – the complex chemistry and gritty bits will cause more extreme and prolonged swelling. An electric toothbrush moves fast enough that it makes up for the lack of toothpaste.
  4. Eat real food, just not stuff that hurts.
    Living off baby food and oatmeal will only deprive you of the nutrition you need. You can eat normal food, just take small bites and chew slowly while you’re getting used to your jewelry. The only things to avoid are spicy, acidic, really salty, and crunchy foods. These can irritate your piercing and make the swelling worse.
  5. Protect yourself
    Kissing, oral sex, or any other exposure to others body fluids is simply asking for an infection. Use a protective barrier like condoms or dental dams while you’re healing.
  6. Shorten your jewelry
    After the swelling goes down, come in for a shorter post for your jewelry. Jewelry that fits flush will protect your teeth and gums from damage and just looks and feels better.