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Crusting After Piercing: What You Should Know

Woman waring yellow with piercings

 Santiago Iñiguez / EyeEm / Getty Images

If you just had your body pierced and you start to notice a crusty material around the piercing site, don't worry. Crusting after body piercing is perfectly normal—this is just the result of your body trying to heal itself. Dead blood cells and plasma make their way to the surface and then dry when exposed to air. While perfectly normal, these crusties do need to be cleaned carefully and thoroughly whenever you notice them. After cleaning the site for a few weeks, you will see less and less crusting until, eventually, it all disappears. This is not a process of one-size-fits-all. For some people the crusting goes away in two or three weeks–for others, it can take four or five weeks.

Crusties are clear or pale yellow. However, if the ooze seeping from your piercing hole is dark yellow, green or brown it could indicate that there's an infection and you should see your piercer or your doctor right away.

What About Piercing Bumps?

If you notice a big, red bump at the piercing site, again, don't worry. A red bump is very common, although you will need to do a few things.

First, you need to put in a quality surgical stainless steel, niobium or titanium CBR in the piercing but do not do it yourself. Buy the jewelry at your professional piercing studio or tattoo parlor. They'll be able to help you find the right size and put it in for you–and they should do it for free. Then, you will need to leave your CBR in for several weeks. Be sure not to change the jewelry until it is completely healed.

Next, you need to clean your piercing properly and that means doing about three sea salt soaks every day until the bump is completely gone. Cleansing and sea salt soaks are very easy to do. Just pick up some sea salt at your local health food or convenience store. Soak the salt in warm water and gently apply the mixture to your piercing with a soft washcloth.  

Avoid over-cleaning, which can delay healing and irritate your piercing.

Once your piercing is completely healed, you can change the jewelry. Remember, the rule of thumb is that if at any time your piercing becomes infected (i.e., is painful, red, hot, and oozing a green substance) then you need to see a doctor immediately.

Is It Safe To Shower After A Piercing?

Showering after a piercing is fine as long as you do it gently without touching the area too much. You'll just want to be sure that no residue from your soap, shampoo, or conditioner get left behind, doing so by rinsing thoroughly with warm water after you finish washing with mild soap.

Are The Cleaning Rules Different For Different Areas Of The Body?

The cleaning rules aren't necessarily different for each body piercing. However, the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), notes that you should always wash your hands thoroughly before touching any piercing and suggests that you soak it in saline for five to ten minutes at least once a day, then dry it completely. For oral piercings, the association says rinsing with a sea salt solution or alcohol-free mouthwash is optimal. These practices should be carried out until the piercing completely heals.

What About Rotating?

Another issue that comes up after body piercing is the question of whether or not to rotate while a piercing is healing. There are two schools of thought when it comes to rotating.

The reason some piercers advise rotating the jewelry is to keep it from adhering to the skin during the healing process and to ensure that the entire piece of jewelry, and the pierced hole, are thoroughly cleaned. The reason for advising against this practice is because too many people rotate unclean jewelry and push the crusties, dirt, and germs right back into the piercing. In my experience, it seems most effective to just wash the piercing thoroughly and not worry about rotating the jewelry unless you notice it trying to stick.

Keep your new piercings healthy and clean with these products that promote healing:

H2Ocean Piercing Aftercare Spray
H2Ocean Piercing Aftercare Spray $12
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This all-natural spray promises to speed up your new piercing's healing process. It's formulated with lysozyme and sea salt, which together, help to remove crusted secretions and encourage healing. Super easy to use, the can spray allows you to treat the pierced area with little to no touching whatsoever.

Montana Emu Ranch Company 100% Pure Montana Emu Oil
Montana Emu Ranch Company 100% Pure Montana Emu Oil $25 $12
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Some piercers swear by the use of emu oil as a natural remedy to speed healing after piercing. It'a full of fatty acids that can relieve itching and inflammation and also works to reduce the instance of oozing that causes crusting.

NeilMed Sterile Saline Solution Wound Wash
NeilMed Sterile Saline Solution Wound Wash $4
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A more affordable and easy-to-find option is a saline solution like this one from NeilMed. Highly recommended by most piercers, it is very effective when it comes to cleaning and healing a new piercing. It also serves as a viable substitute for sea salt soaks, so feel free to submerge your piercing into it for safe and pain-free cleaning.

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