ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Piercing Aftercare

Updated on September 8, 2013, now what?

In my years working the front desks and piercing booths of body modification shops, I have heard some variation of this question more times than I would ever attempt to count. While any reputable shop will go over aftercare with you before you ever get any work done, the chances that your excitement, nervousness, and anticipation will allow it to go in one ear and out the other are pretty high. Most people smile and nod while listening to my little aftercare speech, and then call the shop 20 minutes after leaving to ask me how the hell they take care of this thing. It's okay. We understand. I still get that excited after all these years, and it is only because of my experience that I now know what to do -- and so, I thought it ideal to create an online reference that anyone, anywhere can turn to when they realize they weren't paying any attention to what their artist told them!

It doesn't matter whether it's branded as contact lens solution, or a medical product: what matters is that it is PURE saline solution, no additives.
It doesn't matter whether it's branded as contact lens solution, or a medical product: what matters is that it is PURE saline solution, no additives.

Standard Piercing Aftercare

The way you take care of a piercing often depends on where it is -- oral (lip/tongue/inside the mouth) piercings and "below the belt" piercings, for example, involve a different aftercare technique than most others. Those will be covered below; this section deals with most other piercings, such as your nostril, eyebrow, ears, nipples, and navel.

Immediately upon getting pierced, you will likely feel the area begin to swell and become a bit tender. This is completely normal -- you did, afterall, just shove a piece of steel through your body. What you need to keep in mind is that your body does not know the difference between an intentional wound and an accidental one. All it knows is that there is a hole in it, and it will attempt to heal it. While you obviously don't want the hole to disappear, you do want to respect your body's attempt to heal, and treat it in much the same way you would any other injury. This means, first and foremost, keeping it clean.

Unfortunately, many body mod artists disagree on the best way to do that, but I tend to take the hospital's word for it. If you come into emergency with a hole in you, they are not going to rub peroxide on it or spray it with alcohol -- they are going to flush it out with saline solution. Peroxides, alcohols, and many of the fancy aftercare products offered on the market will indeed clean your wound, but they will also kill all of the good bacteria that is helping you heal, and dry your already tender skin out terribly. Cleaning your piercing a couple of times a day with saline gives you the perfect combination of cleanliness and ability to heal.

Also important is to keep the things that may be touching your piercing clean. This means pillow cases, hats, clothing, and, of course, yourself! Avoid wearing make-up, applying lotions, swimming, or anything else that will introduce foreign matter into your new piercing for the first 3 weeks, minimum (6 is actually preferable).

You will probably notice lymph (that white/yellow crusty stuff around your piercing) during the healing process. While you don't want to leave it all there, you also don't want to irritate your piercing by picking at it all the time -- opt instead to put some saline on a Q-Tip and gently clean it away.

Besides keeping your piercing, clothing, and self clean, the best thing to do to a new piercing is nothing. Do not listen to people that tell you to turn the jewelry, or that it's okay to change it two days in. The less you mess with it, the faster it will heal. It's just that simple.

Alcohol-free mouthwash is the ideal way to keep your oral piercings happy.
Alcohol-free mouthwash is the ideal way to keep your oral piercings happy.

Oral/Below the Belt Piercing Care

As I mentioned earlier, there are a couple of piercings that you will treat a little differently. These are oral piercings (anything in or near your mouth, including lips, tongue, smilie/frownie, cheeks, and labret), and "below the belt" piercings (anything on or near your genitals). The reasons they require different care should be obvious: these are sensitive areas, and keeping these areas clean without irritating them takes a slightly different approach.

When it comes to the oral piercings, you can do the standard saline wash on the outside, but when cleaning the inside, an alcohol-free mouthwash will clean food, coffee, and nicotine (not that you would be silly like me and smoke, of course...) remnants from your mouth. Take care to not change the jewelry for a bare minimum of six weeks -- oral piercings are far more sensitive than others, and any irritation will greatly slow down the healing process. Also try to avoid spicy foods, or very hot beverages. Not only will they irritate your piercing, they will simply not feel all that great. Colder drinks will bring down the swelling, and milder foods will help avoid a wound on fire!

Below the belt piercings are, believe it or not, some of the easiest to care for. If need be, you can do a saline spray, and should clean lymph the same way as I recommended in the "standard piercing" guide, but, in all honesty, your own body is the best cleanser. Urine will naturally clean your piercing, so simply do what you do, and shower often. It is very important to not irritate these piercings, however, so as hard as it may be, avoid sexual activity during the healing process.

Listen to your body -- and your piercer!

A good piercer will always be happy to answer your questions and address your concerns. If anything looks or feels funny to you, never hesitate to contact them and have them offer their advice. Similarly, be willing to listen to them. It's always tempting to change your jewelry early, or take your mother's/best friend's/partner's advice, but piercers are professionals, and most have done thousands of piercings before yours. If anyone knows how to take care of it, it's them.


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)