Piercing Aftercare: Things to Know

Getting a new piercing is an exciting experience, but the aftercare process is equally important. Proper care ensures your piercing heals correctly and stays healthy. This guide will walk you through the necessary steps and precautions for piercing aftercare.

The Importance of Piercing Aftercare

Aftercare is crucial to the healing process of a new piercing. Your piercing could develop complications such as infections, scarring, or rejection without proper care. According to a study by the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, nearly 35% of people with body piercings have experienced a complication, with infection being the most common.

Moreover, the healing time for a piercing can vary depending on the location. For instance, earlobe piercings typically heal within 6-8 weeks, while cartilage piercings can take three months to a year. During this time, following a strict aftercare routine is essential to ensure a smooth healing process.

Steps for Proper Piercing Aftercare

Cleaning Your Piercing

Keeping your piercing clean is the first step in aftercare. It’s recommended to clean your piercing at least twice a day with a saline solution. This can be purchased at a piercing studio or pharmacy, or you can make your own by mixing 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt with one cup of warm distilled or bottled water.

When cleaning, soak a cotton ball in the solution and gently apply it to the piercing. Avoid using alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, as these can dry out the skin and delay healing. Remember to always wash your hands before touching your piercing to prevent introducing bacteria.

Avoiding Irritation

During the healing process, avoiding anything that could irritate your piercing is essential. This includes swimming in pools or hot tubs, which can introduce bacteria, and sleeping on the side of your new piercing. If you must sleep on that side, consider using a travel pillow to keep pressure off the area.

Additionally, try to avoid moving or twisting the jewelry as much as possible. While playing with and touching your new piercing may be tempting, it can introduce bacteria and delay healing. If your jewelry needs to be moved for cleaning, do so gently and with clean hands.

Signs of Complications

Recognizing an Infection

While some redness, swelling, and clear or white discharge are expected in the first few days after getting a piercing, there are signs to watch for that could indicate an infection. These include persistent redness or swelling, yellow or green discharge, a fever, or severe pain. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if an infection is left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as an abscess or even sepsis. This life-threatening infection can spread throughout your body. Therefore, it’s crucial to take any signs of infection seriously.

Dealing with Rejection or Migration

Rejection or migration is when your body tries to push the piercing out of your skin. Signs of this include the piercing hole becoming larger, the jewelry hanging differently, or the jewelry becoming visible under the skin. If you notice any of these signs, removing the jewelry and letting the area heal is best. You can then consider getting re-pierced once it has fully healed.

While rejection or migration can happen with any piercing, it’s more common with surface piercings such as eyebrow or navel piercings. According to a study in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, the rejection rate for navel piercings is as high as 50%.

Long-Term Piercing Care

Maintaining Your Piercing

Even after your piercing has healed, it’s important to continue caring for it. This includes cleaning it regularly, especially after sweating or swimming and checking the tightness of any removable parts of the jewelry to prevent it from falling out.

Additionally, even healed piercings can close up if jewelry is removed for too long. The time it takes for a piercing to close can vary greatly, from a few hours for a new piercing to several weeks for a well-healed one. Therefore, it’s best to leave jewelry in at all times.

Choosing Safe Jewelry

The type of jewelry you choose can also impact the health of your piercing. Choosing jewelry made from hypoallergenic materials such as titanium, surgical steel, or 14k gold is best. Avoid jewelry with nickel, as many people are allergic to it.

Furthermore, the size and shape of the jewelry can affect your piercing. Jewelry that is too tight can cause irritation or embedding, while jewelry that is too loose can get caught on clothing or hair. Therefore, it’s important to choose jewelry that fits your piercing correctly.

In conclusion, piercing aftercare is a crucial part of the piercing process. By following these steps and precautions, you can ensure your piercing heals appropriately and stays healthy for years in the future.

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