Your piercing was done using aseptic technique and the highest quality jewelry available so you’re off to a good start. Now it’s up to you to make the healing process just as comfortable and as quick as possible.
The most important thing to consider is that there is nothing you can do or put on a piercing to make it heal — it’s up to your body to heal the piercing. What you CAN do is to keep the piercing clean and trauma-free to allow your body the best opportunity possible for healing.
How a piercing heals:
Your body will heal your piercing by forming a tube of skin called a fistula from the outside-in, so it’s not uncommon for your piercing to look and feel healed well before it truly is. Even once completely healed, this fistula will thicken slightly over time, so keep in mind that even once your initial minimum healing time is over your piercing will may be a bit “fragile” for several months still so be extra gentle with it especially when changing jewelry not to damage the new tissue.
The minimum healing time for piercings can vary quite a bit. If the piercing is bumped, pulled on, irritated (chemically or physically), or just not taken care of your healing time may be longer. If your piercing still has any redness, swelling, secretion/lymph (‘crust’ buildup on your jewelry), or tenderness it is not through this initial healing phase yet and the jewelry should be left in place at all times and aftercare followed strictly.
What to expect:
For the first few days, your piercing may be a bit tender, sore, or even swollen. This is all fairly normal. Drinking lots of water can help reduce swelling as can over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. After the first few days your body will excrete lymph as it begins to form the fistula inside your piercing. This lymph ‘crust’ will likely collect on the jewelry or around the piercing. Do not pick at it.
Piercings do tend to swell slightly — some more than others — during healing. You have been fitted with jewelry that is long enough to allow for any initial swelling. Jewelry that is too long can irritate the piercing so as soon as the initial swelling and tenderness have subsided it is important to return to get a shorter piece of jewelry if necessary.
What NOT to do:
The main thing to consider when healing a piercing is to keep from irritating it. Irritants to a piercing can be either physical or chemical. They can prolong your healing time, making the healing unnecessarily uncomfortable or lead to scarring around the piercing site. Physical irritants could include the jewelry getting bumped or moved, pressure against the piercing by clothing or sleeping on it, or an accidental bump. Chemical irritants most often come in the form of harsh cleaning products (Dial soap, alcohol, peroxide) but can also include things like scented soaps and body washes, lotions, sunblock, or any other product you are applying near your healing piercing.
To avoid all these potential irritants, here are a few tips:
- Don’t touch, move, turn, or twist your jewelry at all during the initial healing time
- Don’t wear tight-fitting clothing over the jewelry, and try to avoid anything that will rub
- Be careful of seatbelts, hairbrushes, or anything else that could potentially snag a new piercing
- Try not to sleep directly on a new piercing.
- Avoid getting any products such as soaps, lotions, etc. on your new piercing.
What To Do
·Wash your hands prior to touching the piercing; leave it alone except when cleaning. It is not necessary to rotate the jewelry while healing except possibly during cleaning.
·Make sure that your jewelry and skin is free from any discharge before you attempt to move the jewelry. Irritation can occur when crusty matter is accidentally forced into the piercing.
·Stay healthy! Eat a nutritious diet. The healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal. Exercise during healing is fine, just “listen” to your body.
·Make sure your bedding is kept clean and changed regularly. Wear clean, comfortable, breathable clothing that protects your piercing while sleeping.
·Showering is safer than taking a bath, because bathtubs tend to harbor bacteria. If you would like to take a bath, clean the tub well before each use.
Use either one or both of the following solutions for cleaning body piercings:
·Packaged sterile saline solution with no additives (read the label!) or non-iodized sea salt mixture: Dissolve 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized (iodine-free) sea salt into one cup (8 oz) of warm distilled or bottled water. A stronger mixture is not better! Saline solution that is too strong can irritate the piercing.
·Liquid anti-microbial or germicidal soap.
Cleaning Instructions for Body Piercings
1.WASH your hands thoroughly prior to cleaning, or touching on or near your piercing.
2.SALINE soak at least two to three times daily. Simply invert a cup of warm saline solution over the area to form a vacuum for a few minutes. The longer you soak, the better. For certain placements, it may be easier to apply using fresh gauze of a cotton ball saturated in saline solution. A brief rinse will remove any residue.
3.SOAP no more than once or twice a day. While showering, lather up a pearl size drop of the soak to clean the jewelry and the piercing. Leave the cleanser on the piercing no more than thirty seconds, then rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of the soap from the piercing.
4.DRY with disposable paper products such as gauze or tissues, because cloth towels can harbor bacteria and catch on new piercings causing injury. Pat gently to avoid trauma.
What To Avoid
·Avoid undue trauma such as friction from clothing, excessive motion of the area, playing with the jewelry and vigorous cleaning. These activities can cause the formation of unsightly and uncomfortable scar tissue, migration, prolonged healing and other complications.
·Avoid the use of alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Betadine, Hibiclens or ointment.
·Avoid over cleaning. This can delay your healing and irritate your piercing.
·Avoid oral contact, rough play, and contact with others bodily fluids on or near your piercing during healing.
·Avoid stress and recreational drug use including excessive caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
·Avoid submerging the piercing in bodies of water such as lakes, pools, jacuzzis, etc. Or protect your piercing using a special water-proof bandage such as Tegaderm, which is available in drug stores.
·Avoid all beauty and personal care products on or around the piercing including cosmetics, lotions, sprays, etc.
·Don’t hang charms or any other object from your jewelry until the piercing is fully healed.
Your mouth does an excellent job of maintaining itself and healing wounds on its own. Harsh mouthwashes can actually cause more problems than they help by disturbing the balance in your mouth. If you’ve ever seen a healing tongue piercing accompanied by a white tongue and bad breath that’s exactly what is happening — over-cleaning with harsh chemicals kills all the ‘good’ bacteria and allows the ‘bad’ to thrive. So to avoid that:
Start your healing with a brand new clean toothbrush. Brush your teeth, but be gentle around your new piercing. If you normally use mouthwash, make sure it is alcohol free or just don’t use it until your piercing is healed. Carry a bottle of clean water, and any time you eat or drink anything other than plain water rinse your mouth out to remove any debris from the jewelry. After the initial healing, your jewelry may acquire plaque. Brushing your jewelry gently with your toothbrush (only once the piercing is healed and comfortable) will keep plaque from forming on your jewelry.
Downsizing to a shorter piece of jewelry is especially important for oral piercings because the excess length on the jewelry can damage teeth and gums. It is not uncommon for many oral piercings to need to be downsized twice as the piercing heals in order to keep a proper fit — once as soon as the initial swelling has gone down and a second time after the piercing has had time to heal fully. With labret/lip piercings the disk sinking into the lip tissue slightly is not uncommon and can actually help keep the jewelry away from your teeth and gums, but the jewelry should never be so tight that the tissue begins to grow over the disk.
If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to contact us.