Piercing Care 101

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May 12, 2004
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Have that NEW Piercing ..or wanting some basic info on care!


Body piercings need to be cleaned once or twice daily, every day, for the entire initial healing time. Most people clean morning and/or night, in the shower. Do not clean more often as this can irritate your piercing, and possibly delay your healing. For once-a-day cleanings, do it at the end of your day. Optimal frequency will depend on your skin sensitivity, activity level, and environmental factors.

Before cleanings wash hands thoroughly with liquid antibacterial soap and hot water. If you wish, you may wear disposable latex or vinyl gloves and/or also use a hand sanitizing gel. Never, never touch healing piercings with dirty hands. This is vital for avoiding infections.

Prepare the area for the cleansing by rinsing or soaking with warm water and be sure to remove any stubborn crust using a cotton swab and warm water. Never pick with fingernails! This step is important for your comfort.

Apply a small handful of cleaning solution to the area with your clean hands. Cleanse the area and the jewelry, and gently rotate the jewelry back and forth a few times to work the solution to the inside. (You do not need to rotate your jewelry during the first several cleanings).

Allow the solution to cleanse there for a minute. You may bathe normally, just don't purposely work anything other than the cleanser onto the inside of the piercing.

Rinse the area thoroughly under running water, while rotating the jewelry back and forth to completely remove the cleanser from the inside and outside of the piercing.

Gently pat dry with disposable paper products such as gauze or tissues, as cloth towels can harbor bacteria.

Please try to be patient. Each body is unique, and healing times can vary considerably. If your piercing is tender or secreting you should continue the care regimen, even if it is past the stated average healing time range.


Bleeding, bruising, discoloration and/or swelling is not uncommon. Any break in the skin, including a new piercing can bleed or bruise. These are not indications of any complication. Reduce intake of aspirin, alcohol, and caffeine. For above-the-neck piercings try sleeping with your head elevated above your heart (prop up on some pillows) to limit overnight swelling. Studies show non-steroidal anti-inflammatory products such as Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.) can help minimize swelling.

Some tenderness or discomfort in the area of a new piercing is not unusual. You may feel stinging, burning, aching or other unpleasant sensations off and on for several days or longer. During healing there may be some itching.

Secretion of a fluid which contains blood plasma, lymph and dead cells is perfectly normal. It is fairly liquid, whitish-yellow in color and forms a crust on the jewelry at the openings of the piercing. This is not pus, but indicates a healing piercing.

Once healed your piercing may secrete a semi-solid white malodorous substance from the oil glands called sebum. This is not pus, but indicates a healed piercing.

Piercings may have a tendency to have a series of "ups and downs" during healing by seeming healed and then regressing. Try to be patient, and do keep cleaning during the entire initial healing time, even if the piercing seems healed sooner.

Tightness is normal. Do not expect jewelry to swing freely in most body piercings, even after they are thoroughly healed


Wash your hands prior to contact on or near the area of your healing piercing!

Leave the piercing alone except for when you are cleaning it. It is not necessary or advisable to rotate the ring while healing except during cleanings.

Leave the starter jewelry in during the entire minimum initial healing time! (Assuming your initial jewelry is appropriate in terms of metal content, style, and size. Inappropriate jewelry should be changed out by a professional.) Those with captive-style rings or barbells (straight, bent, or circular) can change the bead/ball portion of the jewelry at any time.

Check twice daily with clean hands to make sure the balls are screwed on tight on threaded jewelry such as barbells. Both balls tighten to the right.

If you like your piercing leave jewelry in at all times. Even old, well-healed piercings can shrink or close in minutes after having been there for years! This varies from person to person, and even if your ear lobe piercings stay open without jewelry your body piercing may not! Contact your piercer if your jewelry must be temporarily removed (such as for a medical procedure). Monofilament nylon or another inert non-metallic substance may be able to be inserted to maintain the piercing until jewelry can be reinserted.

Make sure your bedding is clean and changed frequently while you are healing, especially if pets get into your bed.

Wear clean, comfortable, breathable fabric clothing in the area of a body piercing.

A multi-vitamin mineral supplement containing zinc and vitamin C may help boost your body's healing abilities. Take it with your morning meal according to package instructions.

Get enough sleep, eat a nutritious diet, avoid undue stress, recreational drugs, and alcohol consumption. The healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal.

Showering is safer than taking a bath, as bath tubs tend to harbor bacteria. To bathe safely, clean your tub with a bleach product before each bath, and rinse the tub before you fill it. Also, be sure to do a running water rinse on your piercing when you are done in the tub.

In the event that the piercing drains a thick pus discharge instead of the normal liquid secretion, you may wish to see a physician for evaluation and possible antibiotic treatment. If you do have an infection, the jewelry should be left in the piercing to allow for drainage of pus. If the jewelry is removed, the holes can close up, resulting in an abscess. LEAVE YOUR JEWELRY IN !


Don't use alcohol, peroxide, Betadine or Hibiclens as they are overly strong and drying which can hinder healing.

Don't apply any ointment such as Bacitracin, Neosporin or any triple antibiotic ointment on your piercing. These prevent oxygen from reaching the wound and form a sticky residue which can cause complications. They are not designed for use on healing piercings.

Don't over clean. Cleaning more often than once or twice a day is NOT better. This can delay your healing and irritate your piercing.

Don't use too many different products; select and use only one cleaning solution (such as Provon or Satin) plus sea salt.

Avoid oral contact, rough play, and contact with others' bodily fluids on or near your piercing during healing.

Don't use bandaids on a healing piercing. They limit air circulation and the adhesive can irritate the surrounding area.

Avoiding sleeping on a piercing during healing is advisable.

Don't hang charms or any object from your jewelry until the piercing is fully healed.

Avoid submerging your piercings in water such as pools, lakes, jacuzzis, etc. unless you feel confident that the water is clean enough for you and an open wound (which is what your piercing is while it is healing). Most bodies of water harbor large amounts of bacteria. If there is sea life, motor oil or children in the water it is not clean enough!

If you are going to be in water of questionable cleanliness, use a breathable, non water-permeable wound sealant such as Tegaderm or Clean Seals (available at drugstores and pharmacies) before you go in, to protect yourself and prevent dirty water from getting inside your open wound. Cleaning afterwards is not likely to be effective in preventing infection.

Exercise during healing is fine, just "listen" to your body. Try to avoid activities that put undue stress on the area. Your own sweat and bodily fluids are not harmful to your piercing, provided you clean daily as directed.



Avoid tight, cinching belts and waistbands and inflexible clothing on the area during healing.

A hard, vented eye patch (sold at pharmacies) can be applied under tight clothing (such as nylon stockings) or secured using a length of ace bandage around the body (to avoid irritation from adhesive). This can protect the area from restrictive clothing, excess irritation, and impact during physical activities such as contact sports.


Shield piercings from hair spray and avoid getting lotion, make up and other foreign substances in piercings.

Make sure pillow cases are clean and changed frequently.

Clean your telephone receiver with a disinfectant and avoid contact with public telephones.


It is advisable to sleep in a cotton tank top or tee shirt especially if you have any pets that get on or in your bed. Many women find sleeping in a bra or sports bra to be comfortable with a healing nipple piercing.


Sexual activity isn't prohibited, it must be hygienic. Listen to your body! If something feels sore, it means you need to ease up or stop for the time being. Use condoms (without Nonoxynol 9) and dental dams and for all sexual contact to prevent sharing of bodily fluids. This is required even if you are in a monogamous relationship. It is mandatory for your health and safety during the entire minimum initial healing time.

Pleasure Plus condoms have extra room for jewelry.

Use water- based lubricants such as KY Jelly.

How to take care of a belly button ring

The following belly button piercing care information is strictly advisory and you should consult your physician for care instructions. Should irritation or infection occur, consult your physician.

  • Clean your belly button 2 times daily (no more, no less) with antibacterial soap. Before cleaning, use a cu-tip soaked in warm water to gently remove any crust that may have formed around the ring.
  • In addition to regular cleanings, salt-water soaks work well to promote healing. You can buy non-iodized sea salt and put about 1/2 tsp in 1/4 cup of cooled boiled water. Put this in a shot glass or small medicinal cup and bend over. Place it over your navel, lie down and kill 15 minutes. This helps get rid of any pending infections.
  • Other than for cleanings and salt water soaks, leave your piercing alone. Do not move your navel jewelry around. If you want to see it, look in a mirror.
  • Avoid swimming pools and spas. If you must, be sure to clean your navel immediately afterwards with antibacterial soap.
  • Don't touch your new belly button piercing with dirty hands.
  • Don't let other people touch it... or lick it.
  • Replace your belly button piercing jewelry only after your piercing has completely healed (usually 6 months to a year).
  • When you are ready to replace your belly button ring, select a quality piece of jewelry the does not contain nickel to avoid a possible allergic reaction. You can find a great selection of nickel-free gold body jewelry at AlluringMoon.
Although the belly button piercing is one of the most popular piercings it can be one of the most difficult to heal. It can take anywhere from 6 months to a year to heal. Curved barbells should be used to wear initially after the piercing as they allow for the safest and fastest healing. Wearing tight waistbands or frequent activity involving bending at the waist can prolong healing time. The pressure of waistbands can force the ring to one side causing the piercing to heal crookedly and scar. Too much pressure can cause the piercing to migrate or reject completely.
Some women have successfully worn navel piercing jewelry throughout pregnancy. In other cases, the navel ridge pops out, making the jewelry uncomfortable, and in some cases tearing can occur. Monofilament nylon or Teflon is a more flexible option to metal jewelry. A piercing that has been completely healed for several years will most likely remain open if the jewelry is not worn; it will shrink, necessitating the aid of an insertion taper to install the original jewelry.

This information taken from: http://www.navelrings.biz/ and http://www.my-belly-button-ring.com/...on=Custom&ID=3

Jul 3, 2004
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Good tips! I don't have any piercings (other than my ears - few on the lobes - & had a cartilage one that had closed up when I took out the ring b/c of an infection) A bunch of my friend have belly, tongue & nipple rings, I'll tell them to check out your info!

Apr 20, 2004
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thanks for that info Naturally. I'm sure lots of our members will appreciate those tips. I have lots of friends who have gotten piercings all over. It became such a trend!

Jul 20, 2005
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good advice!

except it is often debated whether or not it is necessary to rotate the jewellery during cleaning. i personally believe it just causes extra stress to a wound trying to heal, which can in fact prolong the healing time, so it is not necessary.

"put about 1/2 tsp in 1/4 cup of cooled boiled water"

the correct ratio for a sea salt solution is 1/4 TSP in 8 oz or 1 WHOLE cup of hot water. it doesnt necessarily have to have been boiled.


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