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Piercing Aftercare

We are suppliers of body piercing jewellery and although we have experienced Body Piercers working with us we do not do any body piercing here at PierceOff.

The information below is provided as a guide only, based on the opinions held at Pierceoff. We always recommend that you speak to a qualified body piercer to inform your decisions.

STRETCHING GUIDELINES

The key to stretching is time and patience. Your body tissues need time between each stretching stage to adjust, heal and grow new cells. The slower you stretch the easier and more comfortable it will be and the further you will be able to go.

If you do not allow sufficient time for tissue regeneration, your skin may tear and scar causing keloid tissue that can build up, not only prolonging the healing process and looking unhealthy but it will also limit future stretches. As ear lobes get plenty of circulation they tend to heal quickly but the soft tissue is easy to injure if pushed too far too soon.

Lightly lubricate the ear and jewellery, gently pushing the stretching jewellery from front to back until you feel resistance, supporting the tissue at the back of the ear. A good time to do this is after a hot bath or shower as the warmth causes the tissue to expand and soften making your skin stretch more easily.

Water based or oil based lubricants can be used for example cocoa butter, vitamin E oil, jojoba oil etc. However, use oil based lubricants in moderation as these may make an oily film keeping oxygen out.

Remember although jewellery is measured in diameter, your body feels the circumference. The bigger you go, the greater the area you are increasing the stretch by, and the more difficult it will be, so it is more important that you do not rush these stages.

Special care needs to be taken of a piercing immediately after it has been carried out and during the whole of the healing period. Within the trade, ideas on how to care for a piercing vary. This information aims to provide a guide to post piercing care based upon generally accepted good practice. A lot of common post-piercing complications can be avoided by following a regular care routine.

Before having a piercing you should read this and as much other information as you can before choosing a piercing. The information should help you decide if the piercing you are wanting is the right one for your personal circumstances. Once you have made your choice and have had the piercing carried out, you will then be responsible for the good care of it for some time to come.

Hand washing is probably the single most effective action that you can take to care for your piercing Always wash your hands with antibacterial soap thoroughly before touching your piercing or now jewellery.

Cleaning and "how best to care for a piercing" are much-debated topics in the trade and between medical professionals alike. The consensus is broken into two main camps: those that advise the application of a cleaning solution and those that do not. This is simplified into 'Bottled' aftercare and 'Routine' aftercare. With both methods, cleaning of the piercing is advocated. Often a combination of both methods proves satisfactory.

Routine Aftercare

Keep the piercing wound as dry as possible. When showering (once or twice daily), use an antibacterial soap/gel to clean away any dried and crusted material from the jewellery and the wound.

Other kinds of Aftercare Solutions

There are many kinds of prepared aftercare solutions that are widely available. If you are going to use one of these solutions, it is advisable to carry out a patch test before use. Apply a small amount to a dressing and tape this to the inside crease of the elbow. Check after a few hours for any signs of irritation. If irritation occurs, do not use it. Clean warm tap water may be as useful a solution as any.

Preparations to be avoided

Generally, solutions that are not recommended for a piercing that is still healing include peroxide and high content alcohol-based antiseptics. These can be too strong and may cause dryness. Most ointments are not recommended as they can prevent oxygen from reaching the wound, and may possibly lead to complications.

Dressings

The continual wearing of a plaster dressing can help protect the wound from infection caused by outside bacteria, and provides cushioning to protect the piercing from snagging during rigorous physical activities. The down side to dressings is that any bacteria already at the site of the wound will be incubated and grow much more quickly than if it had been left to ventilate naturally.

A Normal New Piercing

There is a difference between caring for a conventional wound and a piercing wound. With a conventional wound, the aim is to remove any foreign objects and then quickly re-seal the skin surface. Body piercing aims to trick the body into accepting, rather than rejecting, a piece of metal jewellery. The skin forms a tunnel of flesh called a fistula around the jewellery. This takes time and, whilst the wound remains open, it is at risk from outside infections.

Typically, new piercings are tender, itchy and slightly red, and can remain so for a few weeks. A clear odourless fluid, called plasma, will sometimes discharge from the piercing. Often, when pressure is applied to a piercing from clothing or the jewellery is snagged, a whitish-yellow exudation is secreted from the wound. A crust formed from dried plasma and exudation may attach and tighten around the jewellery as it heals, preventing the jewellery from moving. The exudation should not be confused with a pus-like discharge from an infected piercing.

Swelling

Most piercings will swell to some extent. To allow for this, jewellery inserted into your piercing will be longer than the distance between the piercing holes. Occasionally, however, a piercing may swell more than is normally anticipated and can become painful, often leading to complications.

Removing Jewellery

Many post-piercing complications can be attributed to the early removal of body jewellery. Even though a piercing may appear to have healed on the outside, the inside of the fistula can take several months to form. Replacing jewellery too early can lead to the unhealed fistula becoming damaged, and to an increased possibility of infection.

Sterilising Jewellery

To minimise the possibility of wound infection, all jewellery should be properly sterilised, using a medical autoclave, before it is fitted into a piercing. Applying boiled water or the flame from a lighter is not a proper sterilisation process, and could cause damage to the jewellery.

Healing Times

The period of initial healing is called the period of epithelisation, and varies between individuals. Each piercing is different and the methods of caring should reflect those differences. The piercing wound will heal first around the outside holes, and then gradually, over several months, the centre of the fistula will form.

Here is a general guide for minimum anticipated healing periods. Piercings can sometimes take much longer to heal, occasionally taking over a year.

  • Ears (Lobe) - 2 Months
  • Ears (Cartilage) - 4 Months
  • Nose - 4 Months
  • Eyebrow - 4 Months
  • Cheek - 4 Months
  • Lip - 3 Months
  • Tongue - 2 Months
  • Navel - 5 Months
  • Nipple - 4 Months
  • Genital Piercings - 3 Months