PIERCING: Frequently Asked Questions.
The Piercing FAQ:
Piercing gun or needle?
You should ALWAYS be pierced with a single-use, pre-sterilized hollow needle for ANY piercing. Read why guns should NOT be used here.
Do piercings hurt?
That completely depends on the person. A piercing may not be painful to one person and it may feel like childbirth to another. Pain is solely dependent on the person, we all have our own unique pain tolerances. If you’re more worried about the pain of a piercing, I suggest you wait on getting it. Pain is only temporary, so it’s really nothing to worry about!
Is my piercing infected?
Signs of infection:
The piercing is significantly swollen, the piercing has excessive redness, the piercing is radiating heat, the piercing is painful (not sore, like what you may experience with a new piercing), and the piercing is discharging pus (thick, yellow-green discharge; white or clear is normal).
If your piercing is experiencing the above, go back to your piercer ASAP and the doctor for antibiotics to kill the infection — do NOT remove jewelry from an infected piercing before you start antibiotics! Removing the jewelry can cause the piercing to close and give the infection nowhere to drain, causing an abscess.
How long will it take for my piercing to heal?
This depends on the piercing; some piercings can take as little as four weeks to heal and others can take up to a year (or longer) to heal. Areas with low blood circulation will take longer to heal (e.g. cartilage, navel). If you want a full list of estimated bodypiercing healing times, go here.
I’ve had a piercing for x amount of weeks/months/years, will it still close up if I remove the jewelry for x amount of time?
Every person and every piercing is different! Some people can leave their healed piercings out for years without them closing, and some people can’t leave theirs out for a few minutes without them closing. This is why the APP suggests to keep jewelry in your piercings at all times, unless you’re changing jewelry or retiring the piercing.
What should I use to clean my piercing?
Saline is by far the best product to use on a fresh and/or irritated piercing. Saline soaks allow you to clean inside the piercing without harming the fistula, saline soaks act as a vacuum and draw out bacteria, they promote healthy healing and encourage the piercing to heal faster—saline soaks fucking rock. Some common brands include Simply Saline and Wound Wash. Do not use contact lens solution on your piercings! It contains all kinds of weird preservatives and chemicals designed to break down proteins.
To do a saline soak, simply warm up some saline in a cup and soak for 5-10 minutes, once or twice a day. Rinse the piercing well afterward.
You can also use soap! Mild, liquid, and unscented is best. Avoid harsh “antibacterial” soaps like Dial. Some suggested soaps are Provon, Satin, and Castile soaps like Dr. Bronner’s. Make sure your soap is fragrance and dye-free, and look for low-pH or pH-balanced products.
If you’re using a particular soap and notice your piercing becoming dry or irritated, discontinue use, cut back on how often you’re washing your piercing, or switch to saline soaks!
When using soap, wash your hands first, and then gently wash your piercing once a day. Use more water than soap!
There are also some piercing-specific products like SimpleCleanse and SimpleCare that are safe to use, by Punk Medics! Use these according to the directions on the bottle.
What products do I avoid using on a piercing?
Peroxide, alcohol, Bactine, Betadine, Hibiclens, Dial (and other harsh soaps), ointments (like neosporin), ear piercing “cleaner” solutions, and any other products containing benzalkonium chloride.
Should I twist/move the jewelry?
NO. You never ever twist/move jewelry in a healing piercing. Twisting/playing with jewelry welcomes unwanted bacteria/crusties, it tears/destroys the fistula, it prolongs healing time, it can cause excess scar tissue, and it increases your chances of infection. Do NOT mess with jewelry.
What’s normal with a healing piercing and what should I expect?
Initial bruising, bleeding, tenderness, localized swelling and redness are all normal for tissue freshly pierced. Once the piercing starts to heal, itching, discoloration, and white/clear discharge (this dries into “crusties”) are also completely normal and are signs of a healing piercing.
Piercings heal outside-in so even though a piercing may look fully healed, it may not be so make sure you always wait the minimal healing time before you stop babying the piercing.
What happens if my piercing (that’s fully healed) starts to act up?
Always keep some sort of saline (either homemade or store bought saline) product with you so if your piercing is to act up, you’re ready to do a soak to help soothe the piercing. Once you’re doing the soak, or before you do the soak, think of possible factors as to why your piercing could be irritated — did you snag the piercing on anything recently? do you sleep on the piercing? have you used any new soaps, beauty products, or laundry detergents? are your clothes clean? your bed sheets? do you have any pets that may have affected the piercing? have anyone else’s bodily fluids been on the piercing? etc.
I lost the ball/jewel to my jewelry, what can I do to make sure I don’t lose the rest of it?
ALWAYS have spare jewelry on you just in case you are to lose a part (or the entire thing) of your jewelry. It is a genius idea to carry sterile or very clean jewelry around with you in a small baggy so you’re always ready.
Oral piercings: What type of mouthwash should I use and how often?
I strongly suggest using saline (as you would a mouthwash) and saline soaks for oral piercings. Though saline can taste nasty, it’s the most gentle thing you can use on a piercing. If you are to use a mouthwash it must be alcohol-free. If you use a mouthwash, make sure it can be used more than once a day (Biotene and Crest Pro-Health are the only mouthwashes I know that can be used twice a day) because using certain mouthwashes more than once a day could weaken your tooth enamel. Diluting the mouthwash half-and-half with water can reduce uncomfortable drying.
Rinse up to 5x a day (after eating, before bed); if you just use saline, I suggest two saline soaks a day for 5-10 minutes and saline rinses for 30-60 seconds after you eat/drink anything besides water. If you decide to use a mouthwash, use it 1-2x a day and saline (soaks) 2-3x a day. Please try to do at least ONE saline soak a day to make sure you clean the piercing very well.
Oral piercings: How do I reduce swelling and lessen pain?
Some great ways to reduce swelling are with ice (only do this in the first couple of days; 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off, with something between the ice and the piercing), cold foods/drinks, ibuprofen (and JUST ibuprofen; aspirin will not help) and elevating your head while you sleep. There’s generally no way to reduce pain, but relieving the swelling will help with your discomfort.
My piercing has a bump, what is it?
The most common piercing bump is hypertrophic scarring. However, hypertrophic scarring is commonly confused as a keloid. The actual occurrence of keloids (for piercings) is incredibly rare — if you are keloid-prone/have a direct family history of getting keloids, please do not get pierced as you run a much higher risk of getting a keloid.
To treat hypertrophic scarring, first try to find out why you have it the first place. Hypertrophic scarring comes from any trauma to the piercing, especially during healing. It can be caused by inappropriate jewelry styles, sizes, and materials. It can also be caused by harsh soaps/other products. And, most common of all, it can be caused just by snagging your jewelry or sleeping too roughly on the piercing.
If you can identify any of the above stressors, fix it! If you tried to heal your nostril piercing with a ring, switch to a screw or labret stud. If you keep sleeping on your helix piercing, try to use more caution or sleep on something like a Total pillow. Removing the stressor and babying your piercing for a while will almost always cause the bump to go away.
If it persists, and you’re sure there is nothing you can fix, try a chamomile teabag compress.
If you do have a keloid, retire the piercing immediately and visit your local dermatologist for options on how to treat the keloid.
What’s the ‘chamomile teabag compress’?
The chamomile teabag compress is to help soothe irritated piercings and has been known to reduce hypertrophic scarring. To do a chamomile teabag compress simply boil water (or saline), put the teabag in the boiling water, take it out, let it cool a bit (you don’t want to burn the piercing) and let the teabag cool on the bump/piercing. Repeat this process once the teabag gets cold.
Do NOT do chamomile compresses if you have a ragweed allergy.
I just got a new piercing and I don’t like it, what should I do?
You can either visit the piercer that performed the piercing, explain you dislike it and ask them to remove the jewellery. They normally won’t charge a fee, however don’t expect a refund or money back. You can always remove it yourself, however as the piercing will probably be tender, a lighter touch from a professional will aid the pain and will get a better grip on things. Keep the piercing clean until it closes.
Why can’t I have my X/Y/Z pierced with a hoop (ring)?
Rings don’t lend themselves well to supporting MOST healing piercings. Rings put pressure on the piercing (you’re putting especially curved jewelry in a straight hole). Rings also have more scope to move about, which means they can drag nasties (dried blood, crusties, bacteria) back into the fistula and cause more irritation due to dried blood and crusties being sharp, which will damage the healing cells.
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