After care advice for your new piercing

Your new piercing has involved breaking the surface of the skin and there is a possibility that, if not cared for properly, your piercing may become infected. By following the advice provided here you will be reducing the chance of anything going wrong with your piercing.

What to expect from your piercing

It is normal for most piercings to bleed slightly at first, but this should last no more than a few minutes – this may happen a few times over the first few days but should not be continuous and should not be heavy – if this happens you should seek medical advice immediately.

Everyone heals at different rates and some piercings take longer than others to heal. The following list gives an idea of the estimated healing times for different piercings but yours may take more or less time to heal completely.

Your new piercing may be itchy, tender and slightly red for some time – in some cases, a clear, odourless fluid may come from the site and form a crust. This is part of the natural healing process.

General rules about your piercing

Minimise the chance of germs getting into your piercing:
  • Don't touch your piercing for at least a couple of days

  • Don't pick at, or play with your piercing

  • Don't allow anyone else to touch your piercing

  • Don't use your finger nails to move the jewellery

  • Wash and dry your hands when handling either the site or the jewellery

Try not to aggravate your piercing:
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing around your piercing

  • Keep waistbands away from navel piercings

  • Try to avoid rigorous exercise until your piercing heals

For tongue piercings:
  • Try to avoid hot spicy foods for the first few days

  • Try to eat soft foods for the first few days

  • Gradually work your way up to tougher foods

  • Sucking on ice/drinking ice water might help reduce swerlling

  • Use a new toothbrush to prevent bacteria infecting your piercing

Keeping your piercing clean:
  • Clean piercing twice daily. Clean with warm pre-boiled water or sterile saline solution - use a fresh pack and a fresh cotton bud every time you clean the site. Make sure your hands are clean.

  • Turn your piercing 1-2 daily when you clean the piercing - soak off any crust that may have formed before you start to turn any jewellery. Don't pick off at any crust when you're not cleaning the jewellery, as it prevents your site from becoming infected.

  • If possible, use tissue to handle jewellery rather than your hands. Keep your piercing dry after cleaning- pat dry with a clean tissue. Avoid using towels and don't use towels that other people have been using.

  • For tongue piercings, use half strength mouthwash (diluted with water) after eating, drinking or smoking until the piercing is fully healed.

Cleaning Solution

As your piercer will already have advised you, there are a number of things that could go wrong with your new piercing if it is not cared for properly.

Localised Infection

  • If aftercare advice is not followed correctly, infection may occur on the site of your piercing.
  • If you suffer from any of the following after having your piercing you should speak to your piercer, or seek medical assistance in an emergency: Swelling and redness that increases or lasts more that a week or so after the piercing – A burning or throbbing sensation at the site
  • Increased tenderness, painful to touch
  • An unusual discharge (yellow or green) with an offensive smell
Hypertrophic Scarring
Knowing and understanding how wounds heal is essential to proper healing your new piercing. When the human body goes through an injury (for example, a piercing), it jumps straight into active healing mode. To do that, your body starts to produce collagen – a fibrous substance which acts as building blocks for new tissue. However, because piercings mean putting jewellery inside the “wound”, sometimes the body produces too much collagen too quickly, which leads to hypertrophic scarring. Those scars are often confused with keloids, as they both look similar. A hypertrophic scar looks like a raised red bump at the site of piercing, and can sometimes be itchy or tender. It’s a cosmetic problem and doesn’t cause any medical complications. However, the good news is that it’s possible to prevent those bumps, and treat them once they appear. Be aware though that it can sometimes take up to a year once the scar appears, so your best course of action is prevention! Read more about the treatment and prevention of piercing bumps here: 
Migration of Jewellery
If jewellery is too thin, or the jewellery is agitated before it heals completely, it is possible that the jewellery may move outwards through your skin. This problem is more common in navel or eyebrow piercings but could happen with a piercing at any sight. If you think this may be happening to your piercing then return to your piercer and seek their advice.
Embedding of Jewellery
Sometimes, if an infection occurs at a piercing sight, or if an inappropriate piece of jewellery has been used for a piercing, the jewellery may try to make its way completely under the surface of the skin. This is known as embedding. If you think this may be happening to your piercing then return to your piercer and seek their advice.
Allergic Reaction 
Your piercer will have already asked you about any allergies that you may have. However, if you should notice an allergic response to your jewellery (or any other product used during the piercing) at any time then seek medical advice. 
If you have any problems or questions at any time then you should contact your piercer – contact details are provided below to ask for advice in the first instance. It may be the case that they may refer you to your GP, or reassure you that what you are seeking is part of the natural healing process. In an emergency, you should always seek medical attention either at your GP surgery or at a Hospital Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department.

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