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Navel Piercing Preparation, Aftercare, and Pain Management

Updated on May 4, 2015

What You Need to Know About Navel Piercing

Belly button piercing is quite fashionable these days, especially among teenagers. With lots of celebrities displaying their cute navel rings to the cameras, the trend has become even more popular.

What do you think about a belly button piercing? Do you find it cute, or are you in the group of people who would never go for one?

If you are thinking about getting your navel pierced (whether openly or secretly) here are a few things that you should consider before taking the final plunge.

How do you feel about a navel piercing?

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Should You, or Should You Not?

If you are under 18 years of age, you should talk with your parents before piercing any part of your body and possibly wait a year or two before getting a piercing.

Piercings in general have risks, require aftercare, and involve some pain. There is also a chance of rejection or infection. You will need to think about what you wear. You will need to limit work, sports, exercise, and other strenuous activities until the piercing is completely healed.

Also, ask yourself: Do you want everyone to see your piercing, or is it a secret that you want to keep to yourself?

Simply said, think about it carefully. It may be cute, but it does involve a lot of care and responsibility. Go for it only if you are ready for all this.

Risks of Navel Piercing

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There sure are risks involved in piercing your navel.

  • Keep in mind that a needle is going to pierce the skin, so there can be infection if the needle is not properly sterilized.
  • If the pierced area and ring rub against your clothes, this can irritate the area and cause infection and pain. So if you are still in school and are not allowed to wear an open midriff top, you may want to postpone the piercing.
  • An improperly positioned navel ring can lead to nerve damage. Choose your belly piercer very carefully. An experienced body piercer will also be able to give the right advice about whether your navel has the skin to hold the ring in place.

Piercing an Outie Belly Button

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Piercing an innie belly button involves passing a surgical needle through the tissue located just above the navel plug. Jewelry is then threaded through the piercing and hangs in front. Belly button piercings work best with innies—the bigger and deeper the depression, the better and safer the piercing.

An outie piercing is done directly through the navel plug itself and the jewelry is threaded through the plug and hangs directly below the navel. This doesn't mean that you can't get your outie pierced. There are, however, more risks associated with outie piercings:

  • There are more blood vessels in the navel plug than in the skin around the navel, so when an innie navel is pierced there may be more bleeding.
  • For the same reason, if infection occurs, there is a higher risk that the infection will spread to other parts of your body.
  • The navel plug tissue is harder to pierce, so it is possible that the piercing will not be straight and your jewelry will not hang right.

If your piercer is experienced, there is nothing to worry about. Most seasoned piercers can do this procedure easily and quite safely.

Choosing Your Piercer

If you have decided to go ahead with your navel piercing, it is time to choose a professional and efficient body piercer.

  • Choose a licensed piercer, preferably one who comes highly recommended by someone who has had the procedure done.
  • Check whether their work environment is clean and the equipment is properly sterilized.
  • Ask about their availability in case there is a problem after the piercing.
  • Check the quality of the piercing jewelry being used. Piercing jewelry is usually made of titanium, stainless steel, or niobium, since these are least likely to cause an infection.

Navel Piercing Aftercare

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Salt Water Cleaning Solution Recipe

To make your own salt water cleaning solution, follow this recipe:

  1. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized (iodine-free) sea salt into one cup (8 oz.) of warm distilled or bottled water.
  2. Boil and allow to cool down.
  3. Pour into a glass.

The piercing procedure itself is quite short and easy. You will probably be asked to take a deep breath and let it out and that's it! It will be done. There is not much pain involved during this short process. Taking proper care of your piercing is important, however, and must become routine. How well you care for your piercing will determine whether you develop an infection or experience pain.

  • Don't touch it. Your fingers may pass on germs to the piercing site and cause an infection.
  • Avoid close-fitting clothes. Wear something that will not touch or pull around your navel. Any amount of friction can delay the healing.
  • Clean your piercing. Wait for a few hours and then clean your belly button with some sea salt and warm water (see recipe above). Lean forward over your glass of salt water, place the glass on your stomach, and lean back. Keep the salt water on your stomach for about 10 minutes. Wash off with running tap water and gently dry using a clean towel.
  • Take a shower everyday. This will ensure that the area is clean and free of germs and infections. Avoid taking a bath. Use a mild antibacterial soap to clean the area.
  • Don't use lotion. Avoid lotion around your belly button at least for a few months since it may cause dirt and oil to accumulate around the piercing.
  • Avoid swimming and yoga for a few weeks. Strenuous exercises and activities should also be avoided for the first few weeks since these may delay the healing process.
  • Don't sleep on your stomach. If you have a habit of sleeping on your stomach, try using a pile of pillows to avoid rolling over on to your stomach.
  • Leave the jewelry in. Don’t even think about taking out the belly button ring for at least six months! It takes a minimum of six months for your navel piercing to heal.
  • Eat well. Eat a good diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. This will boost your immune system and hasten the healing process. Keep in mind that healing may take anywhere from six months to two years. The healthier you are, the faster the healing.

What to Do for Infection or Pain

If you have taken all precautions before, during, and after your belly button piercing, the chances of infection are very low. If you notice any swelling, redness that does not go away, throbbing pain, or if the area feels hot to the touch, chances are that the piercing may be infected.

Continue soaking the area with sea salt water. This will help drain the infection. Consult your doctor and follow his or her instructions carefully. Your piercer also may have some good advice to offer if you notice any infection.

Time to Try Some New Navel Jewelry

Getting your belly button pierced can be great. If you can act responsibly with it, there is nothing in this world that should stop you from getting it done!

Once the area is healed, you can change your jewelry. Wash your hands and remove the ring by unscrewing the ball and pulling the barbell down and out. Notice that cute little hole there? Time to insert your new belly button ring into it and flaunt it if you wish! There are many types of navel rings that you can buy.

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    • profile image

      Tasha 3 years ago

      How much times a day do u have to sterilise your belly peircing?

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 3 years ago

      Hi Tasha,

      If you follow the above procedure, once a day should be enough! You can do it twice if you feel pain.

      All the best!

    • profile image

      Ellie 2 years ago

      Hiya Tasha,

      1-2-3 a day but don't over clean it but don't under clean it. Use H2 Ocean spray.

      Hope i helped.!!!.

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 2 years ago

      Hi Ellie,

      You are absolutely right. 3 times a day is enough.

      Thanks for sharing your personal experience about navel piercing aftercare

      All the best!

    • profile image

      Laura 2 years ago

      I don't know if to get it done or not I really want to be but there are a lot of things that come with it like the pain when it goes in and after looking after it

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 2 years ago

      Hi Laura,

      If you really want to get it done, nothing should stop you.

      Just make sure to go to an experienced piercer for the same. He or she would be able to give the right advice to you about the pain, during and after, as well.

      You just need to be careful for a while. In the long run, you would be glad you got it done.

      So, go for it!

    • profile image

      Baylee 2 years ago

      Hey! I just thought I'd share my experience. So I had wanted a naval piercing for a long time, about a year but I didn't ask my parents because I didn't want to go through the procedure. I once did try to pierce it myself, but I ended up taking it out the same day because I was worried about it getting infected. So after about a year, I finally got the guys to ask mum and dad if I can get it done. Mum said yes, but dad said no. I kept on asking dad every day and about 4 days later he said yeah I can do what I want, but if I get an infection I have to deal with it. So I was so nervous about getting the needle I actually made myself sick for three days because I was so nervous. I went in the day before I got it into my local shop and asked about it. Then my dad gave me permission to come back the next day with my friend and get it done. So after school, I went in and I was like having an anxiety attack I was that scared. I try to avoid needles all I can, I have like the biggest phobia. The needles for a naval piercing is big, I'm not going to lie, but it doesn't make the pain any worse then if it was small. So the procedure is really fast and easy. First the lady wipes It with an alcohol wipe, then she marked it and made sure I was happy, then she got me to lay down on the bed and clamped it. Most people say the clamp hurts the most, but it didn't even hurt nor was it uncomfortable. I then closed my eyes and told my friend to hold my hand, the lady then linked the needle up and told me to take a deep breath in, then she quickly pushed the needle through. I didn't feel the break of the skin I only felt it being pulled through. I did moan a bit, because I had never felt anything like it before, but it wasn't painful. When it comes to needles they do hurt me, but believe me this one didn't at all. When my friends ask me if it hurts I say no, haha it just felt like my stomach was having a spasm, because that's all it was. It just felt so weird. I laughed after. Then I watched my friend get her nose pierced. The worst pain was the first time I cleaned it, that night. I put the salt and water solution on it and man it sting really bad, that pain was worse then the actual needle. It was so worth it though, because it looks amazing and the happiness that I feel from it overpowers the pain that comes after it. The pain will only be here for a week I am told. But I have to take really good care of it since it can get infected very easy. I've now had it in for just over 24 hours and I can already move it! But I'm not supposed to so I won't for a while now. But if you are reading this and plan on getting it done, i say just go for it. It really will be like nothing you expect. And my pain out of 10 (10eong the worst) it's about a 3/4 out of 10. Which isn't that bad at all. The needle is slid through in less then a second, so nothing to be worried about. Most people would have experience a worse pain then this.

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 2 years ago

      Hi Baylee,

      Thanks for sharing your experience.

      It will definitely help a lot of people out there who are not sure whether they want to get one or not.

      And you are absolutely right! All the pain is surely worth it because it is just so cute!

    • Cofee Mommy profile image

      Natalia M Aeschliman 2 years ago

      Very Useful Information!!! Thank you!

    • profile image

      Kaitlyn 2 years ago

      I just got mine done dec 5 and my piercer told me to use anti bacterial soap to wash it and use a q tip with saline solution around the ring 2 times a day. But I keep seeing thing online that says I have to use a Dixie cup with saline solution to clean it. So I'm not sure if she was right or not. If I keep doing what my piercer told me will I get infection? Thanks.

    • profile image

      Cianna 2 years ago

      How long are u supposed to wait till you go swimming bc some websites say when its completely healed and some say something like 24 hours after you get it done. So pleaseee tell me.? Thanks.

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 2 years ago

      Cianna,

      Only go to swimming when it is healed. 24 hours just doesn't sound right. This should be at least 2 weeks.

    • profile image

      kelia 2 years ago

      Hey am scared of piercing what can I do to prevent the pain??

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 2 years ago

      Kelia,

      Just relax. There will be pain, that's for sure. But not so much. For some, it is just a pinch, for others slightly more. The more you stress about it, the more the pain. Just be excited about the piercing and choose a good piercer and you will be fine!

    • profile image

      Lynn 2 years ago

      Thinking about getting my belly button done for my husband

    • profile image

      shericka ximines 2 years ago

      Hey I want to get mine done but very scared.my husband love it that's why I want to get it done but afraid of pain.and can I still have sex when I get it done same time?

    • profile image

      Kaylee 2 years ago

      I want to get my belly button pierced but I don't know when the right time to get it done would be. I dance competitively, my teacher is ok with it I just worry about it healing in time so I can take it out for competition they are in late spring early summer?

    • profile image

      Paige 2 years ago

      I really want to get my belly done over the holidays but I'm scared it won't heal for when I get back to school, what can I do??

    • profile image

      Violetrmartinsen@gmail.com 2 years ago

      I'm getting mine done this Saturday and Im really nervous and what is the smallest size of the navel piercing?? Thanks

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 2 years ago

      Hi Violetrmartinsen,

      Piercers usually use a 14 g which is the ideal one for the belly button. You could ask the piercer about the 16 g, but I don't think he or she would recommend it.

      Do share your experiences with the piercing!

    • profile image

      Cinnamon 2 years ago

      I got my navel pierced when I was 17 (I'm 19 now). I was really nervous about it but I decided I'm a rebel I can do this lol. I was in grade 11 at the time and I had to wear a skirt with a tight band around my navel, this would only hurt if I pulled it up on my navel but just resting on it didn't hurt at all. Actually getting it pierced didn't hurt at all either. I cleaned it about twice a day with alcohol pads recommend by my piercer. It actually healed really quickly in about a month - a month and a half it was completely healed without crusts and everything. Normally I think they said it takes up to 6 months but I guess my skin is pretty cool. I'm not actually considering nipple piercings hopefully they heal as fast as the navel

    • profile image

      miles 2 years ago

      I just got mine pierced yesterday, may 23, just about 24 hours of having it done. I was kinda nervous about it, but my piercer was very nice and assuring, he cleaned everything in front of me! It was a very quick procedure, 5 mins from cleaning before and saying, "OK you're done just use saline, don't touch it, wait 2 months before putting in a different ring, & don't over clean it." I've wanted my navel done since I was 12, and I finally got it done at 19, so if you really want it, do it! I like mine a lot already. Truly, if I could rate the pain I'd say maybe a 2. Yes, just a 2! So with that said, find a good piercer, clean it how they tell you too, and enjoy! :)

    • profile image

      Wanis 2 years ago

      I'm Getting Mines Today And I'm Really Excited. Do You Get Automatically A Belly Ring After The Process?

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 2 years ago

      Wanis,

      The piercer will put a retainer. Don't remove it until the area is healed. All the best! Do share your piercing experience. It will help millions of others who are scared of getting the piercing done!

    • profile image

      Natalie 2 years ago

      I just got mine done today and the pain for me was around a three or four wasn't bad the worst part was the bus journey home because I didn't even know how to sit I was so scared of catching it but it's no pain at all and this is about three four hours after its truly amazing

    • profile image

      Mary 2 years ago

      I got my navel pierce exactly a week ago today the pain at the beginning was not bad at all I should say like a 2 but now I'm a lil worry cause the top hole is very sore and red no discharge or pus coming out, some people are telling me maybe is rejecting it change the ring to a gold nickle free

    • profile image

      Mary 2 years ago

      Anyone help please I want it to heal safe and nice

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 2 years ago

      Mary,

      Don't change the ring on your own. You will only make matters worse.

      Try the sea salt soaks mentioned above, thrice a day. If it doesn't get better, go straight to the doctor. It could be an infection.

    • profile image

      sash 2 years ago

      Got mine done today...I was so afraid it wasn't that painful but the after pain is really killing me

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 2 years ago

      Hold on Sash! It will be fine in a few days. Use the sea salt soaks and don't touch the area too much. It will get better in a few days.

    • profile image

      Jaz 2 years ago

      How long should I wait before working out after getitng my belly pierced?

    • profile image

      Lena 2 years ago

      I really, really want a belly button piercing.. but the only thing is, i have a parttime job, and the uniform is a formfitting dress. so it's tight around my belly and i can't just quit my job because of my belly button piercing. should i cover it with a sterile gauze or something so it will move less or is that more irritating?

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 2 years ago

      Jaz,

      Wait till it is healed completely before doing any rigorous exercising.

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 2 years ago

      Lena,

      Covering it with a sterile gauze while wearing the uniform could be a good solution for your problem. It is important that the area does not get irritated during the healing period. Also, keep using the sea salt soak solution to quicken the healing and also leave the area open when you are not wearing your dress.

    • profile image

      kezah 2 years ago

      Hi I'm getting mine done next week when will I be able to do exercise including water sports(canoe),rock climbing then press ups and normal exercise that you do in a gym?

    • profile image

      Katelynn 24 months ago

      Im getting my belly buttion pierced in about a week and im really nervous. My mother is ordering the piercing kit off of Amazon. What do you think about home piercings?

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 24 months ago

      Kezah,

      Avoid vigorous exercise, especially swimming until the piercing has healed. This should be about 3-4 weeks.

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 24 months ago

      Katelynn,

      Need to be very careful with home piercing, especially if you have no idea of what is being done. There is an increased chance of infections, crooked piercings and rejection.

      Better to go with a professional piercer, but if you do plan on going for a home piercing, be extra careful about sterilization and measurements.

      Do share your experience with all of us. It may help someone else!

    • profile image

      Advice101 24 months ago

      Hello everyone,

      I just wanted to share my experience of getting my belly button pierced with all of you. I am 15 and just got it around 5 hours ago. To be completely honest, it didn't hurt at all. This is only my experience and yours may be different. I mainly just felt some pressure and before I knew it, it was over. If your planning to get yours pierced remember to try to stay calm and keep a positive attitude. Just think of how you'll look after (cute!!) Hope this cheers up your mood and helps if your going to get one.

    • profile image

      Lolly 23 months ago

      Hi, I really want my navel pierced but I have to do sports three times a week at school. If I waited until the Christmas holidays, would two and a half weeks be ok for healing before I have to return to school? Thanks

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 23 months ago

      Lolly,

      2 1/2 weeks is way too short a period for healing. You should give it at least 6-8 weeks to be on the safe side. Pick a time where you can get this much time as you may have to cut down on your sports a little bit until it gets healed.

    • profile image

      Nicole 23 months ago

      Hi everyone,

      I got my belly button pierced about 12 hours ago and I want to share my experience. The place I went to was very nice, it looked clean, and the artists looked experienced and professional. The piercer let me pick out the ring I wanted (there were hundreds to choose from!) I went with a silver ring with a diamond on the end. I stood in front of a mirror and she marked me with a sharpie. Then I laid down on the table while she cleaned all of the tools. She clamped my navel with these long tongues. It didn't particularly hurt but there was a lot of pressure. Then she pushed the needle through and inserted the ring. It was over in about 3 seconds. My pain on a scale of 1-10 was a 4. Not bad at all. It's really cute and I'm satisfied. It stings a little with certain moment but I was able to sleep comfortably. I applied a large bandaid over it before bed just to ensure it wouldn't snag in my sleep. When I woke up it didn't hurt at all! As I walked and moved around more it began to sting a little but not horribly. I cleaned it in the shower after I washed my body. I turned the water to a cooler temperature and lathered it up with Softsoap brand antibacterial soap. I moved the ring around under the water and let it air dry afterwards. Then I sprayed it with H20 saline spray and let that air dry. I'll do this 3 times a day for 2-4 weeks. I hope this was helpful for someone!

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 23 months ago

      Nicole,

      Congratulations on your new piercing!

      Thanks for sharing your experience. It will definitely be helpful for others who want to go for it!

    • profile image

      Star 22 months ago

      Just got my navel pierced Sept 10,2015 @ 7pm. I went to a very well reputed shop in Huntsville,Al. Paid $25.

      The artist/piercer was very professional and friendly. He explained everything along the way. We picked out my jewelery, he washed and gloved his hands, next we cleaned my stomach area with an antibacterial solution, and marked the holes. Then, i laid on the bed/chair, the piercer opened the packages in front of me, clamped my navel, he told me to take a deep breath abd exhale... No pain, needle was done. Deep breath and exhale... Jewelry in place.

      We went over aftercare, he gave me sea salt( non-idionized) , saying to do salt soaks a few times and only clean the piercing after i washed in the shower by letting the warm water run over the piercing than push the top bar up slightly and apply an antib

      acterial soap, rinse and repeat bottom while slowly sliding the bar so as to clean the whole area.and told me what to look for should infection or rejection occur.

      Overall i am happy and felt no pain, irritation or uncomfortablness at all.

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 22 months ago

      Congratulations, Star on your new piercing!

      Thanks for sharing your experience. It will definitely help someone who is still wondering whether to do it or not to do it!

    • profile image

      Liv 21 months ago

      I just did my own! I'm 17 and my mom wouldn't let me. it hurt more to put the ring in and its red and stings a little. I'm afraid of infection because after I took the needle out, I rubbed it with hydrogen peroxide and had to put it back in to help get the ring in. If I clean it well and watch it can I avoid infection?

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 21 months ago

      Hi Liv,

      Use the sea salt soak, thrice a day. It should prevent infection. It should begin to get better in about a few days. Don't move the ring too much or take it out. Let it stay until it has healed. If it swells up or hurts bad, just go to the doctor. Otherwise, it should be OK!

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      Kiera 21 months ago

      Hi I am 12 and all of my friends have had there navel pierced and I love it so much I was thinking of getting it at Christmas but do you need to be 13??

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 21 months ago

      Hi Keira,

      You will need to check for your state. Some states don't require parental consent for body piercings, others do.

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      Teetee 17 months ago

      I have had mine for a year and almost two months . I changed it August of 2015 and the ring fell out and I didn't know until after class so i had to repierce it. Now it's February and still not healed. And my CBR ring is stuck I can't rotate when I clean it. What should I do?

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 17 months ago

      Teetee,

      You need to re-pierce only if the piercing spot closes up. Otherwise, it is not required. It is possible that the re-piercing has caused some problems. It's been quite a while and in my opinion, you should consult a doctor and get it checked. There is probably an infection and inflammation which is why the ring seems to be stuck.

      Better get it checked and rule out any complications. Do share your experience, it may help someone else.

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      Cassie 15 months ago

      I just got mine done today! I was so excited but I have school and I have to play in gym I can't just sit out for 30 days like my peircer said to give it time to heal and it already hurts when inkove around I don't know what too do....:(

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 15 months ago

      Cassie,

      Give it a little time! It will be OK in a few days!

    • profile image

      Claudia 14 months ago

      I got my belly piercing about a week 1/2 ago . I like to run and exercise.. How soon before I go back to that? I'm scared that it might get infected with the sweat.. What to do??

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 14 months ago

      Claudia,

      Give it at least 2-3 weeks. Just check how it is healing. If it is healing fine, you should be able to go back to exercising easily after 2 weeks. As far as the sweat is concerned, just clean the piercing with an anti-bacterial solution and it should be fine!

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      Katelynn 14 months ago

      I got my belly button piercing 4 days ago and it's doing good. I would say the piercing hurt about the same as an earing but feels a bit different because it is done by hand and on your stomach. I soak it 10 minutes in the morning before school, spray it with the salt water stuff when I get home, at about 7 I wash it in the shower and then 9ish I soak it before bed.

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      Makayla 8 months ago

      Hi I'm thinking about getting my stomach pierced for my 15th birthday, but I'm worried about it getting infected, or my body rejecting it. Some people have told me that its a good idea and I really want it, but other people have said its a bad idea.

    • profile image
      Author

      Great Living 8 months ago

      Makayla,

      If you want a belly piercing, go get it done. Don't hear what others have to say. Of course, you should talk to your parents first.

      Just make sure you pick a good piercer, keep the area clean, use sea salt and water soaks (or anything else to keep it infection free), and don't move it around too much or change it too soon.

      You will be absolutely fine!

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