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How to Care for Your Body Piercing

Prevent infection by keeping your ear, nose, lip, tongue, navel, eyebrow, and other body piercings clean.

Instructions

  • Step 1: When you're ready to get a piercing, be sure to consult the Association of Professional Piercers for a trained and licensed body artist.
  • Step 2: Use jewelry that is less likely to contribute to an infection, like implant-grade surgical steel, surgical titanium, solid gold, and platinum. Many piercers require you to buy the starter jewelry from them to ensure quality control.
  • TIP: Don’t let a technician use a piercing gun on any body part other than your ear lobes. All other areas should be pierced with a sterilized needle.
  • Step 3: Touch the piercing as infrequently as possible, and never without washing your hands with antimicrobial soap first.
  • Step 4: Saturate the piercing site twice a day for six weeks in sterile saline solution, or one-eighth of a teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt dissolved in one cup of distilled water. Dab with gauze or a cotton ball and gently rinse to remove residue.
  • TIP: For a tongue piercing, swish the solution around your mouth five times a day for about a minute, especially after meals and before bed, and gently brush your tongue and jewelry with a soft toothbrush reserved for this purpose. Avoid French kissing and oral sex until the piercing is healed.
  • Step 5: Don’t use hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, antiseptics, ointments, or mouthwash that contains alcohol; they can interfere with healing.
  • Step 6: Avoid swimming, hot tubs, and even baths: Chlorine can irritate the piercing, and bacteria thrive in these environments. While showering, apply a little of your regular soap lather to the piercing, and rinse thoroughly. Pat dry with a paper towel, not your bath towel. Keep lotions, sprays, creams, and perfumes away from the piercing. Change your sheets every few days.
  • TIP: A hard, vented eye patch, available at pharmacies, can protect a navel piercing while it heals. Secure it by wrapping a length of elastic bandage around it.
  • Step 7: Be on the lookout for signs of infection, like pus, swelling, redness, or pain at the piercing site. Consult a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
  • Step 8: Keep the jewelry in place for as long as the piercer recommends.
  • FACT: Besides the ear, the most popular piercing among women is the navel, while men opt most often to pierce their nipples.

You Will Need

  • A reputable piercer
  • A safe piece of jewelry
  • Antimicrobial soap
  • An sterile saline solution or non-iodized sea salt and distilled water
  • Gauze or cotton balls
  • Paper towels
  • Clean bed linens
  • A soft-bristle toothbrush
  • A hard
  • vented eye patch
  • An elastic bandage

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