Piercing Aftercare Guide.
TL; DR – Too Much Information? For a shorter version try our quick reference guide here!
Your piercing should be healed after 6 weeks. The jewellery should not be removed during this time.
Piercings heal from the outside inwards, so they often feel healed long before they actually are. During the healing process a body piercing forms a very delicate type of tissue that can be easily damaged by moving the jewellery. It is a myth that jewellery will get stuck if you do not move it. Twisting or turning the jewellery can grind dirt or bacteria in to the wound, potentially causing irritation and infection (more information).
This piercing is prone to a large amount of swelling and may swell up on and off for up to two weeks. Your initial jewellery will be longer than normal in order to accommodate this swelling but it is important to treat the swelling so that it doesn’t get too tight.
- Use anti-inflammatory pain killers. Medicines such as Ibuprofen target swelling and work best when taken regularly. They are cheaply and easily found in most supermarkets and pharmacies. Read the patient information leaflet or ask a pharmacist for advice before use.
- Drink icy drinks. Sipping from ice-cold drinks is more effective than just eating ice as the cold liquid flowing over the piercing covers a larger area and carries away any heat. Be sure to rinse out your mouth after using milky or sugary drinks.
- Use arnica supplements. Arnica is a natural herbal product that can help to reduce swelling and inflammation. You can find arnica tablets from health food shops such as Holland an Barrett and can start taking them a day or so before getting pierced for maximum effect. The usual recommended dose is 2 tablets 3 times a day. If you take medication, or have a condition that slows blood clotting, talk to a pharmacist before using them.
- Have chamomile tea. Chamomile is very soothing and is a great natural anti-inflammatory. It can easily be found in the fruit tea section of most supermarkets. The tea can be made into ice cubes for short bursts of regular relief. It can also be drank hot but should only be used a handful of times during the first 48 hours as cold is better for swelling than heat.
- Eat frozen foods. Eating frozen food can bring relief to swelling and soreness. Try to allow harder foods like ice lollies to melt a little before eating them as they can knock or catch the piercing. Fruit smoothie, angel delight, moose or yoghurt can be frozen into ice cubes that remain soft enough to eat immediately and are small enough for regular relief.
After two weeks you should return to your piercing for a shorter bar. This bar will be sterile and safe to wear for the rest of your healing without irritation. It will help to reduce tooth and gum damage and make your healing time more comfortable.
- After eating, drinking and smoking rinse your mouth thoroughly with fresh water, sterile saline or a 50/50 mix of alcohol-free mouthwash and water.
- Brush your teeth and tongue thoroughly twice a day and then rinse your mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash and clean around the front and back of the piercing with a clean cotton bud.
It is best to clean your piercing like this twice a day for the next 10-12 days. After this, simply clean whenever the piercing feels sore or has crust on the jewellery and keep it when you brush your teeth.
It is important not to use any kind of alcohol on the piercing. Alcohol is too strong to use on piercings for cleaning so alcoholic mouthwashes like listerine should be avoided. They harm and weaken the healing tissue, complicating the healing time and increasing the risk of rejection. For this reason you should also, ideally, try to wait at least 2 weeks before drinking alcohol (and then use a straw).
Personal relations. During the first two weeks you should avoid exchanging body fluids (kissing and unprotected oral sex). Other people have different bacteria on their skin, salvia and other fluids (even when they are clean) which can be harmful to you and cause infection. They can also carry viruses which can be transferred into an open wound like a piercing.
Irritation and swelling. Your piercing may get slightly swollen or irritated on and off during your healing time. Chamomile may help with this as it is a natural anti-inflammatory and very soothing but won’t interfere with your healing. Chamomile tea is a cheap and easy way to find chamomile and is found in the fruit tea section of most supermarkets. Simply add a tea bag to your soak water, drink the tea or use the hot tea bag as a compress. People who have a ragweed or celery allergy should do a skin test before using the tea.
Supporting healing. Take care of your general health. Drink plenty of water, sleep well, de-stress and eat properly. For the first few weeks try to avoid smoking, or drinking alcohol as they are immune system suppressants. Alcohol also thins the blood which can cause additional bleeding. Try taking a multivitamin that contains zinc, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C as these help to support your immune system and aid tissue repair. They may even reduce the chance of complications during healing.
Household environment. It is also important to keep areas that come into contact with your piercing as clean as possible so getting a new tooth brush or washing mugs and cutlery in antibacterial soap will help to support your healing.
Oral health. People who are prone to plaque or scale or who smoke are particularly recommended to use a mouthwash. A build up of scale, plaque and residue from cigarettes can build up on the jewellery and cause irritation during the healing process. Mouthwashes are more adept at treating this particular issue.