The months after getting a piercing are key to making sure it heals properly and doesn't get infected. Despite how casual and common it is for people to get pierced, each new piercing is essentially a wound. And like the aftermath of any trauma, aftercare is extremely important. Slacking off on your aftercare or using harmful products will only prolong your discomfort and the healing process.
Before you leave the piercing or tattoo shop, most piercers will give you aftercare instructions. Since they are the experts, it's best to listen to their advice and follow it closely until the piercing is completely healed. Even if you forget a step or lose the instructions, you can always give them a call for a reminder. But if you're really at a loss, these rules are reliable guidelines to help heal any basic piercing.
How to Clean Your Piercing
- First, wash your hands thoroughly. You don't want to introduce any bacteria to the piercing because it's an open wound that is vulnerable to infection. So it's important to never touch your piercing or jewelry with dirty hands.
- Saturate a cotton ball with warm water, and gently wipe away any "crusties" that have gathered around the piercing site. If you have a scab, do not pick at it. Then throw the cotton ball away.
- Apply a generous amount of unscented liquid soap to your fingertip, and apply it to the piercing site and jewelry. Make sure you get the soap everywhere, but rotating your jewelry is not necessary as long as you work the soap around the piercing and jewelry completely. If you do rotate the piercing, this could introduce bacteria from the jewelry and into the wound, causing irritation or even infection. It's best to just clean the piercing and jewelry thoroughly without actually moving it.
- Rinse the piercing and jewelry several times with warm water, ensuring that all soap has been removed.
- Dry your piercing with a clean paper towel and then dispose of it.
Acceptable Healing Aids and Products
If standard soap and water isn't your thing and you'd rather turn the healing up a notch, these products can help keep your piercing nice and clean.
- Tea Tree Oil: Also known as melaleuca oil, this antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, soothing liquid cools and refreshes an irritated piercing. Use only high-quality tea tree oil that has been diluted with distilled water.
- Emu Oil: This oil is full of fatty acids that can help to reduce inflammation and pain. It's known as a universal healing product that produces exceptional results when healing a piercing.
- H2Ocean: This sea salt saline solution is often used by piercers to help clean the piercing area.
- Saline Solution: Less expensive and more readily available than most other products, saline solution is very effective in soothing and healing a new piercing. It's also an acceptable substitute for sea salt soaks which is when you submerge your piercing into salt water to help clean it.
Do Not Use These Products
- Hydrogen Peroxide - Hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria, but it also kills the white blood cells attempting to heal your piercing. It can cause irritation and lengthen overall healing time.
- Rubbing Alcohol - Alcohol will dry the skin and irritate the raw piercing, which could actually lead to infection.
- Glyoxide - This is a product that contains hydrogen peroxide and hinders healing rather than aiding it.
- Ear Care Solution - Solutions that are provided by jewelry boutiques and department store piercers usually contain alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and other harmful chemicals that only aggravate a new piercing.
- Ointments - Antibacterial ointments or similar products only clog pores and/or kill good cells trying to heal the piercing.
New piercings and sometimes irritated piercings can greatly benefit from a sea salt soak. This simple remedy can soothe pain and even draw out infection when it's done properly.