How Do I Know if My New Body Piercing is Healing? Answering Your Piercing Aftercare FAQs
Yes!! You FINALLY made it to the piercer. They did their thing and pushed a needle through your body. You're proud of yourself for finally getting that new piercing you've been talking about forever... Okay, so now what?
Now you're officially healing up your piercing. The process from open wound to happy, healthy, and comfy piercing can be time consuming and stressful... And worst of all, can lead to lots of questions. Should my belly ring be red? Should I be twisting the bar inside the piercing? Can I swap out my jewelry to something more comfy?
Here are a bunch of answers to some of the most commonly asked aftercare/healing questions related to body piercing.
Disclaimer: if your are experiencing extreme redness, sharp pains, a strange smell, pus/ooze/discharge, or any other medical issue during your healing process... Don't risk infection or rejection! It's time to consult a professional piercer or a medical professional.
Is My Piercing Healing?
Here's the most basic of all questions:
"How do I know if my piercing is actually healing?"
Good question! The thing about piercings is... There are so many different kinds. Belly button piercings are going to heal up differently from industrial bars. Eyebrow rings won't heal the same as nipple piercings. On top of that - everyone's body is different. Every person's experience is going to be unique to them, so there's no magical time frame or healing window that you can count on.
In the hours just after being pierced - you'll almost certainly experience a bit of swelling in the area around the piercing site, especially in the case of oral piercings (kind of like getting a fat lip if you get hit in the mouth). This swelling may or may not last for a few days, but after a bit, the site should stop being so tender... This reduction in swollen tissue means your piercing has already started to heal!
If after a week or so your piercing is still swollen, this might mean you have a more serious complication. Reach out to your piercer/doctor if you ever have any questions.
Is Discharge Normal?
Yes and no!
The "normal" discharge you should see is clear and odorless. This clear liquid is "lymph fluid," which is essentially just a bunch of white blood cells that has been sent to the piercing site to help flush out bacteria and fight incoming invaders. Lymph fluid is very common in most wounds, piercings especially, and you shouldn't be concerned if you encounter it during your healing process.
The "abnormal" discharge you should keep an eye out for is typically opaque, colored, and plentiful. This discharge is most likely pus, which may or may not have a yellow/green tinge and have a funky, cheesy smell (gross!). This could be a sign of infection, so if you are concerned about
How Do I Speed Up The Healing Process?
There's no tried-and-true method for making your piercing heal faster, per say. But there are methods you can use to make sure your body has the best possible environment and circumstances to heal as efficiently as it can.
Use a gentle salt-soak cleanser once or twice per day - no more, no less! Cleaning your piercing too much can dry out the piercing site, which could have adverse effects on the healing process.
No bumps, snags, poking & prodding, or unnecessary pressure on your healing piercings. Any excess stress will prolong your healing.
Avoid sleeping on your piercing - if you're a side sleeper, consider getting your piercing on the opposite side that you typically sleep on.
Be a clean human in general! Keep your clothes, towels, sheets clean. Take a shower. Dirty piercings are unhappy piercings!
Should I Twist the Jewelry To Help it Heal?
It's a common misconception that twisting the jewelry while it's healing prevents your skin from healing onto the jewelry itself. This is outdated information - although this was common practice in the past, twisting the jewelry around can actually damage the fragile cells that are trying to heal up around your piercing. This is simply going to prolong your healing process.
The best thing you can do for your piercings is practice the LITHA method... "Leave it the heck alone!"
How Do I Know When I'm Completely Healed?
There's a big difference between a piercing that has healed on the outside and a piercing that is fully healed all the way through the piercing tunnel. The piercing tunnel is known as a "fistula;" this tunnel takes a longer time to heal up than the skin on the outside of the piercing. Even though it might look like your piercing is totally healed, it might still be tender on the inside. The best way to know if you're totally healed up? Consult a piercer!
Say you've had your belly piercing for six (6) months... That's at the lower end of healing time. By this point, the outside of your piercing is probably healed up but your fistula is probably still forming, so don't go changing your jewelry in and out all willy-nilly! Rather than go by a suggested healing time, consult your piercer or listen to your body's signs. For example:
You should stop seeing lymph fluid come out. Your jewelry should feel like it's floating freely in the fistula. You shouldn't see any redness, scaliness, or discoloration around the piercing. You should be relatively pain free. These are all signs of a healed piercing, but as always...
GO ASK YOUR PIERCER! Don't jump to conclusions - your body's long-term health is worth your time.