Helpful Hints: General Piercing Care
The single best way to speed the healing of your new piercing is to take care of your whole body. Eat properly. Get enough sleep. Manage your stress. Reduce smoking, drinking, and recreational drug use. The healthier you are, the healthier your piercing will be.
Keep Dirty Hands Off Your Piercing
Touching with dirty fingers is an easy way to get a piercing infected. Wash your hands before handling your healing piercing. Despite what you may have heard, you do not need to rotate or twist your jewelry during healing. Unless you are cleaning your piercing, keep your hands off!
Check Your Jewelry
Any jewelry with screw-on ends should be checked occasionally (with clean hands) to make sure those ends are screwed on tightly and are not in danger of coming loose.
Keep Your Jewelry In
While your piercing is healing, keep jewelry in it at all times. After your piercing is healed you can change your jewelry, but jewelry should never be left out for longer than the time it takes to insert a new piece. If you must remove your jewelry temporarily after healing, such as for work or surgery, there are less visible (and non-metal) alternatives that can be worn for short periods of time. Ask your piercer what your options are.
Cut Down on Smoking
Not just for oral piercings, but facial piercings as well. Besides being all-around unhealthy, smoke leaves residue on your piercing that can irritate it and slow healing. This means staying out of smoky environments as well.
Avoid Oral Contact
Mouths are full of bacteria and germs. Having someone’s mouth on your piercing is one of the fastest routes to infection. Avoid wet kissing with fresh oral piercings, unprotected oral sex with healing genital or oral piercings, and tongues on nipples. Keep your lover’s tongue out of your ear while you’re healing a cartilage piercing. And limit the sharing of straws and forks too.
Avoid Other People’s Body Fluids
A healing piercing is an open wound, so treat it accordingly. Even if you are in a monogamous relationship, you and your partner have different bacteria from each other. (You can end up sharing more than just the moment.)
Don’t Let Your Clothing Constrict Your Piercing
If your clothing is contorting your piercing it’s going to affect healing. With navel piercings, make sure the waistline of your clothing is low enough that it does not touch your piercing while standing or sitting. Be careful with large belts and the waistbands of tights. If bras are irritating your nipple piercings, try cotton tank tops or sports bras. Keep constrictive clothing off surface piercings and surface anchors as well.
Wear Natural Fibers
Natural fibers (cotton, silk, etc.) allow your piercing to breathe. Synthetic fibers do not, and this can slow down healing. Be especially conscious of bras and padding over nipple piercings and underwear over genital piercings.
Wear Clean Clothes
Keep any clothing touching a piercing clean. Make sure your sheets and bedding are fresh as well. Try using clean T-shirts as pillowcases for healing facial and ear piercings.
Keep Make-up and Hair Products Away from Healing Piercings
Be especially careful of hairspray and powdered foundation.
Clean Your Cell Phone
Or better yet, use the other ear. Also, wipe down eyeglass frames that come in contact with fresh piercings.
Change Your Sleeping Position
When healing cartilage piercings, sleep on your other side, if possible. Try to stay off your stomach with healing navel piercings as well.
Keep Pets Away from New Piercings
Pets are cute, but they shed. Cats walk in their litter boxes, and dogs lick more than just your face. Keep pets out of your bed during healing.
Be Mindful of Where You Swim
If possible, avoid swimming with a healing piercing. If you do decide to go in the water with a fresh piercing, be mindful about where you swim. (The clear ocean water of the Caribbean is not the same as the still water in your local swimming hole.) Public pools, lakes, and especially hot tubs should be avoided during healing. If you must swim, consider using a watertight covering such as Tegaderm™. At the very least, be sure to clean your piercing after you get out of the water.