• 07/23/2023

How to Clean a Piercing (Because Hygiene Is Essential to Healing)

How to Clean a Piercing

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Getting a new piercing is exciting. You should feel confident in your skin, which means getting your piercing and helping it heal. Read this guide to learn how to clean a piercing, no matter where you want your body jewelry. You’ll have a greater chance of preventing an infection because you know how to care for your skin.

Prep for Your Piercing

It’s essential to show up for your piercing according to the directions given by your licensed body piercer. They may have specific instructions, but you can also follow these steps to prepare for the experience.

1. Clean Before Your Appointment

You don’t want to work out at the gym or do yard work and show up for your appointment. It’s better for your piercing to happen on a clean surface. Shower if you’re getting a lower body piercing to ensure your skin is as clean as possible.

Anyone who’s getting a lip or mouth piercing should also brush their teeth. Research shows the mouth harbors over 700 bacteria species at any given time. You’ll prevent infection by brushing your teeth or cleaning whichever body part will receive the piercing.

2. Avoid Drinking Caffeine

Caffeine spikes your blood pressure but can also make your blood thinner if your body already struggles with clotting. Even if you drink coffee every morning to lower your diabetes risk, gain energy and keep your bowel movements on schedule, it’s best to avoid drinking caffeine a few hours before your piercing appointment.

3. Pick Linens to Potentially Stain

Your piercing may bleed while you sleep in the days after your appointment. Consider which sheets and pillowcases you don’t mind staining. You can also transform a towel into a pillowcase for an ear piercing or lie on a large towel while you sleep after a belly button piercing. It’s also wise to stock up on blood stain removal products for laundry day.

Standard Steps for Aftercare

Once your piercing exists and you feel extra confident, it’s time to care for your body. These are the most essential aftercare steps for any piercing.

1. Don’t Remove the Jewelry

When you accidentally get a cut, you know you’ll get a scab while the wound closes. Your body doesn’t know the difference between an unwanted wound and a piercing, so keeping your body jewelry in place is crucial. Removing your tongue, belly button or ear jewelry allows the piercing to close. Keep it in as long as your piercer recommends.

2. Apply the Cleaning Solution Daily

A fresh piercing may need cleaning with a saline solution every few hours. In the weeks to come, daily cleaning is still helpful. Saline rinses bacteria away and soothes irritated skin cells. Gently swab any crust away from your piercing with a damp Q-tip or washcloth as well. You’ll keep bacteria from finding places to grow around your wound.

If your body piercer recommends a different cleaning solution, follow their instructions. It’s always important to follow their specific instructions, as piercing studios sometimes offer in-house products or long-term care guidelines that are slightly different from each other.

3. Check the Jewelry’s Looseness

Some body jewelry has a standard backing, like an earring. If you push it up against your lobe, the jewelry is tight enough to remain in place. Other jewelry types have backings that turn into place or snap on.

Get used to checking your jewelry throughout the day. It may loosen and fall off if it brushes against your clothing or if you’re more physically active. 

Tips to Clean Your Piercing

You’ll eventually reach a point where your body piercing is no longer a wound. It’s still important to use these steps when cleaning it due to inflammation.

1. Use Sanitary Supplies

It’s always important to clean a wound with sanitary supplies. Your piercing will require the same thing, even months after your appointment. Affordable solutions like Q-tips are safe if you keep them in a dry, cool storage spot. 

You can also use a freshly washed facecloth or hand towel. Ensure it remains in a sanitary location between uses instead of on the bathroom floor or on top of dirty clothes.

Medical-grade disposable cloths or a wound cleaning kit is another option if you want to invest in your cleaning supplies. There are many ways to clean a piercing. Reflect on your budget, care instructions and personal preferences to find the best supplies for your needs.

2. Avoid Unsanitary Conditions

Some body piercings take months to heal fully. The inner walls may be thin enough for microscopic tears, leading to infections if you place yourself in unsanitary conditions long after the bleeding stops.

Avoid activities like jumping in ponds, getting covered in mud or even swimming in public pools. You’ll minimize the bacteria around your piercing so it doesn’t become inflamed or infected.

When those situations are unavoidable, have a cleaning response in mind. After your activity ends, a saline or alcohol-based solution should coat the piercing to kill lingering bacteria.

3. Clean Your Body Jewelry

Jewelry can also hold onto bacteria. It’s why you might occasionally get inflamed ear lobes even years after your piercing heals. If you never clean the jewelry, this uncomfortable situation will likely happen.

Soak your jewelry in alcohol once a week. Leave it in the solution for at least an hour and rinse it off before wearing it again.

If you’re unsure how to clean your jewelry, ask the person or company that made it. Finer jewelry may not do well in an alcohol bath, so they’ll point out if you should use specific bacteria-fighting products instead.

While you’re keeping up with your piercing and jewelry, you may notice sometimes your skin goes green after a long day of looking stylish. It’s a chemical reaction that happens when the metal interacts with water or oil on your skin.

A professional jeweler might be able to coat the jewelry in a protective clear layer to prevent the reaction from happening again. Otherwise, you’ll likely need to wear it until a replacement with higher-grade metal arrives at your front door.

Take Care of Your New Piercing

Once you know how to clean a piercing, you can make yourself have whatever look you want. Whether you pierce your ears, lips or bellybutton, you’ll avoid infections by following your body piercer’s instructions and cleaning it regularly in the following months.

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