Taking care of piercings is vital. Here’s how to make sure your new gear is looking its shiny best, and you’re not risking your health!
There’s a fine line between pleasure and pain – a piercer’s worst nightmare
Bumps under the skin. Excessive swelling. Blistering redness. Throbbing, painful and oozing. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of – but you’d be surprised how often good piercings go bad due to poor aftercare. You can have the best piercer and the best equipment in the world but if you don’t do the right thing by your hardware once you get home it’ll all be for nothing.
Sometimes you can get mixed messages from different people when it comes to taking care of piercings. There are lots of armchair experts when it comes to all things body-mod and piercings are no exception. Have a look at our professional guide to after care before you try any weird home remedies.
Taking care of piercings – fresh meat
Heard the old wives’ tale about rubbing alcohol? Save your booze for later. All you need to wash your fresh piercing is soap and water, or saline solution, twice a day. Try wetting a gauze pad, or similar, and holding that in place for about ten minutes. Using anything else is going to run the risk of drying out the area and not allowing it to heal properly. Dry skin cracks and breaks, which could lead to an unsightly infection.
If you’ve pierced cartilage you need to expect it to be a little delicate. Fight the urge to touch or move the piercing too much and give it the time that it needs. It’s possible that you are going to notice a symptom or two but this can generally be attributed to irritation, not infection. If you’re concerned about fluid or swelling head back to see your piercer for analysis.
As much as we love piercings, bodies can take a while to adjust to the presence of new material. Be patient and use ice on swelling to help your body stop rejecting the piercing. That’s why it’s doubly important to avoid removing or replacing the piercing until healing is complete and it’s firmly established. Be aware, as well, that cross-contamination is a huge possibility. Keep your hands as clean as possible all times to avoid germs accidentally making it to the piercing site.
Healing can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to months, depending on the area you’ve had pierced. Pain, swelling and fluid are signs of healing, so once those are gone you’re going to be in the clear. It’s also important to let the original piercing sit until well after you’re sure it’s completely healed before replacing it.
Taking care of piercings depending on body part
Here’s a quick overview of what to watch out for with piercings in different spots. Note that the below information is a general guide – for any more specific questions you need to talk directly to your piercer and follow their instructions closely.
If it’s your ear or a facial piercing be wary of anything that comes into contact with the pierced surface – headphones, glasses, hats and particularly phones can transfer germs easily. Be aware that you’re probably going to find fluid on your pillow after a night’s sleep so you may want to put the nice pillow case away for a while!
If you’ve pierced your nipples, consider supporting the area as much as possible. This will be particularly helpful when you’re sleeping.
Pierced your bellybutton? Protect the area with either an eye patch or a bandage. This will stop it from being disturbed by your clothes or general movement during the day.
If you’ve pierced your genitals you need to use barrier protection during any sexual contact as your partner’s fluids can cause serious irritation. Expect to bleed for quite a while initially and go out of your way to avoid unnecessary irritation. You can have sex but be careful and make sure you rinse the area afterwards as well.
Taking care of piercings if you’re a school student
One of the most common causes for concern, if you’re getting a new piercing while you’re at school, is your uniform policy. We often find that students are forced to take fresh piercings out to be in line with their school rules. This causes huge damage to the area, is really stressful and the cause of a lot of unnecessary conflict.
If you’re in this position think about timing. Waiting until the school holidays, or even until you graduate, might be a better idea than getting a new piercing in the middle of the term. If you’re still keen to do it, ask about getting a clear piercing if possible. This might help it avoid detection.
What can go wrong when taking care of piercings?
The redness, swelling, discomfort and occasional fluid that we’ve already mentioned is part of the healing process and it would be strange if you didn’t experience any of it. That being said, if you feel like what’s happening to you is beyond ‘normal’ healing it’s important to head straight back to your piercer.
As well as saline or water for cleaning, you can try a warm or cold compress to alleviate infection symptoms. Natural remedies like tea tree oil can also be helpful but talk to your piercer about their thoughts before trying anything new.
Seeking advice from someone who doesn’t have experience with piercings may be counter-productive and do more damage to the area than good. Suggestions to move, or remove, the piercing should only be taken as a last possible resort so it’s important to speak straight to a pro.
You may experience an allergic reaction to the material, which is usually the case if your discharge becomes yellow. If you’re allergic then unfortunately there’s not a whole lot that can be done – talking to a piercer may help you find some alternative jewellery.
Symptoms like fever, chills, loss of function or chills are very serious. If any of that happens to you, bypass your piercer and head straight to a doctor. Taking care of piercings yourself is important, but never put yourself a risk of medical complications.
Need help or advice about taking care of piercings? Talk to the experienced team at Gold Coast Tattoos today.