Aftercare

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Healing

Piercings heal in stages and it takes around one full year to get through these stages. You may progress in your healing and then your healing may regress at times depending on what you do and don't do during this first year. To heal, your body will form new skin cells inside your piercing to create a skin tube called a fistula. During the first year the cells inside and around the edges are extremely delicate. The longer you have your piercing the thicker and stronger these skin cells become. Each piercing has its own healing timeline and each person heals differently. 

 

Think of your piercing as a wound with a foreign object in it. You want your body to adapt to and heal around this foreign object. When metal and skin compete, metal always wins. Help your body accept this new jewelry by being as gentle as possible, consistently following your aftercare routine every day during the first year, even if it is looking and feeling good. 

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Body Piercing Aftercare

 

Body Aftercare Daily To Do's

1. Saline Spray

Gently spray saline solution on both sides of your piercing 2 - 6 times daily for the first year. 

Benefits - This soothes your piercing and helps to rinse off any dried discharge on your jewelry.

2. Remove Crust

Gently remove all crust from skin and jewelry every morning and evening with a wet q-tip.

Benefits - Removing debris creates a smoother surface making it easier for your body to form new skin cells. This keeps excess crust from irritating the new cells that are forming around the edges of your piercing. 
 

3. Apply Emu Oil

With clean hands gently massage a pea size amount of 100% emu oil on either side of your piercing once daily.

Benefits - Emu oil soothes your piercing and will keep the edges of your piercing moisturized, it encourages skin cell growth, and restricts the regrowth of microorganisms. It makes for a more comfortable healing process.

4. Check Jewelry Ends

Jewelry ends come apart and need to be checked every day! Some styles screw on and some snap together so it's important to know which style you have so you know how to secure it. Rings don't need to be checked.

Benefits - Because the ends of your jewelry may loosen over time checking them daily will minimize the chance of you losing your jewelry and your piercing. 

5. Downsize Jewelry

Piercings swell initially so most starter jewelry is longer to accommodate for that swelling. It is important to downsize your jewelry after 4 weeks.

Benefits - Starting with longer jewelry accommodates for any initial swelling after getting pierced. You will need to downsize the length of your jewelry in order to stabilize it and minimize any snagging and prevent shifting. Too long of length may cause your jewelry to shift to an angle so your piercing is no longer straight. 

 

Body Aftercare Don't Do's

1. Don't Touch

Wash your hands first if you have to touch your piercing for any reason. 

Benefits - This will decrease the chance of introducing microorganisms that may multiply and lead to infection.

2. No Harsh Products

Don't use harsh products like alcohol, peroxide, bactine, hibiclens, witch hazel or ointments on your piercing.

Benefits - It's important to keep any harsh chemicals out of your piercing because they impede healing. They also dry out the skin and irritate your piercing which leads to increased soreness, redness, dryness, migration, and rejection

3. Avoid Personal Products

Don't get any make-up, lotion, hair products etc. in your piercing.

Benefits - It's important to keep any harsh chemicals out of your piercing because they impede healing. They also dry out the skin and irritate your piercing which leads to increased soreness, redness, dryness, migration, and rejection

4. Don't Be Too Rough

Don't put pressure on your piercing. Pulling, bumping, snagging, sleeping on it, and changing your jewelry frequently is traumatic to the delicate skin cells forming inside your piercing.

Benefit - If you are too rough with your piercing it will slow your healing. You will experience increased soreness, redness, overall irritation, swelling, bleeding, bumps near your piercing, and other complications such as drifting,  migration, and rejection.

5. Avoid Open Bodies of Water

Don't submerge your piercing in pools, hot tubs, lakes, or the ocean for 8 weeks or if irritated.

Benefit - Open bodies of water are full of microorganisms which can infiltrate your piercing, multiply, and lead to an infection. If you must swim I suggest covering it with a waterproof bandaid to seal out any contaminants.

6. Don't Change Jewelry

Don't change your jewelry too frequently the first year. You are forming new skin cells. When you drag metal through them it's not unlike dragging metal over a healing wound. 

Benefit - You avoid scraping the new skin cells and damaging taking jewelry in and out

7. Don't Take Jewelry Out!

If you take you jewelry out your piercing may start to close in within minutes.

Benefits - Once your jewelry is removed your piercing tunnel begins to shrink in thickness making it difficult to put your jewelry back in. If you force your jewelry back in its traumatizing to the delicate skin inside because it scrapes through the piercing damaging the cells on its way through.

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Oral Piercing Aftercare

 

Oral Piercing To Do's

1. Reduce Swelling

Take an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen throughout the day as directed; if not medically contraindicated. 

Benefits - An anti-inflammatory will help control inflammation and minimize discomfort. Expect your whole tongue to be swollen for one full week. It will stay swollen around the piercing for the first 4 weeks.

2. Rinse With Mouthwash

Rinse with an alcohol free mouthwash 3-4 times daily for 4-8 weeks.

Benefits - Using mouthwash will inhibit and restrict overgrowth of microorganisms that may lead to infection.

3. Eat Soft Foods

Eat soft foods while your piercing is sore. Go with comfort.

Benefits - It is important to get proper nutrition while healing. Soft foods such as soup, mashed potatoes, apple sauce, pudding, eggs are more comfortable to eat while your tongue is sore.

4. Drink Cold Water

Drink ice cold water and/or use ice chips while your piercing is swollen or sore.

Benefits -  Ice cold water soothes your piercing, brings down inflammation, and helps to keep you hydrated.

5. Downsize Jewelry

Piercings swell initially so most starter jewelry is longer to accommodate for that swelling. It is important to downsize your jewelry after 4 weeks.

Benefits - Starting with longer jewelry accommodates for any initial swelling after getting pierced. You will need to downsize the length of your jewelry in order to stabilize it and minimize any snagging and prevent shifting. Too long of length may cause your jewelry to shift to an angle so your piercing is no longer straight. 

Oral Aftercare Don't Do's

1. Don't Touch

Wash your hands first if you have to touch your piercing for any reason. 

Benefits - This will decrease the chance of introducing microorganisms that may multiply and lead to infection.

2. No Harsh Products

Don't use harsh products like mouthwash with alcohol on your piercing.

Benefits - It's important to keep any harsh chemicals out of your piercing because they impede healing. They also dry out the skin and irritate your piercing which leads to increased soreness, redness, dryness, migration, and rejection

3. Avoid Big Bites 

Foods you have to take big bites of such as pizza, burgers, or subs may be uncomfortable to chew at first.

Benefits - Be as gentle as possible with your new piercing while it is swollen and sore. Go with comfort.

4. Avoid Hot & Spicy Foods

Hot or spicy foods may sting while piercing is new, sore, and swollen.

Benefits - This will keep your piercing from stinging and burning.

5. Avoid Acidic Juices

Don't drink acidic juices such as orange juice, lemonade, or grapefruit juice.

Benefits - This will keep your piercing from stinging and burning.

6. Don't Play With Your Jewelry

Avoid playing with your jewelry, biting on it, or clicking it on your teeth.

Benefits - This can help you avoid chips, cracks, and broken teeth. It will also keep your jewelry from wearing down the white enamel that protects your teeth. If the enamel wears down it will expose the brown layer of dentin underneath.

7. Don't Smoke or Drink

Avoid smoking or drinking the first couple weeks while your piercing is sore and swollen.

Benefits - Drinking can lead to being too rough with your new piercing. It also may increase swelling to an uncomfortable level.

8. Don't Take Jewelry Out!

If you take you jewelry out your piercing may start to close in within minutes.

Benefits - Once your jewelry is removed your piercing tunnel begins to shrink in thickness making it difficult to put your jewelry back in. If you force your jewelry back in its traumatizing to the delicate skin inside because it scrapes through the piercing damaging the cells on its way through.

 

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Irritated Piercing Aftercare

If your piercing is more sore, red, swollen, gooey, crusty, or bumps is starting to form by it.​

 

 

IRRITATED PIERCING DAILY TO DO'S

1. Wash Your Piercing

With clean hands water down a dime size amount of medical grade Provon brand antimicrobial lotion soap. Gently wash surrounding skin and exposed jewelry (no need to move through piercing) then gently rinse off the soap off.

Benefits - Antimicrobial soap kills microorganisms growing on your skin and jewelry. It also slows their regrowth to minimize the chance of developing an infection. Antimicrobial and Antibacterial soap are not the same. Dial soap is not suggested as the active ingredient Benzalkonium Chloride is irritating and dries your skin out.

2. Soak Your Piercing

Soak your piercing in the saline solution 3 times a daily, 5 minutes each time for a maximum of 15 minutes per day for 7-10 days. Make a saline solution by measuring 1/4 tsp  non-iodized sea salt to 1 cup (8 oz) of warmer/hot distilled water.

Benefits - Saline soaks can reduce swelling, draw out impurity's, and soothe your piercing. You should see a little improvement each day. It is important to measure correctly using a measuring cup and spoon. An incorrect salt to water ratio can cause problems instead of helping. If there isn't enough sea salt you may not experience the maximum benefits. If there is too much salt your can dry your piercing out too much and burn your skin.

3. Remove Crust

Gently remove all crust from skin and jewelry with a wet q-tip after each soak.

Benefits - Removing debris creates a smoother surface making it easier for your body to form new skin cells. This keeps excess crust from irritating the new cells that are forming around the edges of your piercing. 

 

4. Apply Emu Oil

With clean hands gently massage a pea size amount of 100% emu oil on either side of your piercing once daily.

Benefits - Emu oil soothes your piercing and will keep the edges of your piercing moisturized, it encourages skin cell growth, and restricts the regrowth of microorganisms. It makes for a more comfortable healing process.

5. Assess Your Jewelry

Have your jewelry assessed by a professional piercer. You may need a different material, style, gauge, length, diameter, or ball size to help with healing. Jewelry isn't a one style, one size fits all. 

Benefits - Jewelry that is of high quality, fits well, is comfortable, and works with your lifestyle can greatly enhance your healing process.  When it comes to jewelry it's definitely not a one style or size fits all. 

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Healing Problems

Healing a piercing is not always easy and takes close to a year of consistent commitment to care. In my experience most healing issues are related to one or more of the 5 basic healing factors.

1. How hard of a piercing is it to heal?  

2. How easy do you heal?

3. What is the quality of your body jewelry? Is the material, size, and style best for you? It's not a one size, style fits all.

4. How consistently are you following the do's and don'ts of your piercing aftercare?

5. What in your lifestyle is getting in the way? (sleeping on it, changing it for sports, etc.)? Piercings don't get irritated for no reason. Something is causing it and the answer is different for everyone. 

 

Not all piercings will heal the same, each person has their own process. Some piercings heal easily and some don't. Below are pictures of some healing concerns that may occur initially or during the first year of healing. Recognizing these issues and understanding what is causing them will help you to make informed choices when considering your approach to aftercare and healing. It's best to be consistent with your aftercare throughout the first year to prevent problems. Even if your piercing is healing well don't stop taking care of it too soon and be proactive if issues arise.

 

Piercings should never stay irritated for long periods at a time during healing. The pictures below are to show the importance of consistently following the aftercare do's and don'ts during the entire yearlong healing process.