There are plenty of details to consider when getting a piercing – where to get pierced, what kind of piercing jewellery you want, and how to get pierced are just a few examples. With so much to keep in mind it’s easy to see how your health and piercing aftercare take second priority. However, it’s crucial to know what reaction you can expect from your body and how to care for it when getting a piercing so that you’re left with the best possible result.
Knowing what you can do to prevent complications and what you can do to help your body heal as effectively as possible is critical to a successful piercing, no matter where the piercing is located on your body.
Respect your body’s needs and follow the aftercare instructions given to you by your piercer and you’ll be left with a great-looking piercing.
Assess Your Health Before Getting A Piercing
Piercing is a safe and sanitary practice, so the risk of medical complications is quite low if you follow the prescribed aftercare regime.
However, there are pre-existing medical conditions which affect your body’s capacity to heal. Everyone’s body is different, so it’s up to you to make a decision about how to proceed. If you are uncertain about whether it is safe for you to get a piercing, ask your piercer or your doctor. A reputable piercer will ask about your medical history before doing the piercing, so have your questions and answers ready.
There are a two medical conditions which make it harder for your body to heal after getting a piercing.
If you have a severe heart condition your body will have more difficulty healing. Depending on the severity of your condition, a piercing may not be advisable. Diabetes can also disqualify you from having a piercing done depending on how well you manage your condition. In both cases your body is more susceptible to infection and can take longer to heal after a piercing.
People who have skin which is acutely sensitive or prone to keloid – a type of tissue formed where you have a scar or cut – should also factor their health into the decision about getting a piercing. People with sensitive skin face the risk of not healing properly and being left with a piercing they aren’t entirely happy with.
Let your piercer know about any pre-existing health conditions and they will advise you on how to proceed.
Tips To Keep In Mind Before Getting a Piercing
Get your piercing done with a needle, not a gun. Having your body pierced by a sharp needle instead of a blunt gun is less of a shock to your system and can impact the time it takes your body to heal.
Also be aware that a cartilage piercing requires more aftercare and attention than getting a lobe pierced. The type of tissue being pierced and the kind of piercing you are getting both have an effect on the amount of time it will take to heal. Ask your piercer for details about the healing period for the piercing you are considering.
The Most Common Health Complications Caused By Piercing
The primary cause of health complications following a piercing is not following aftercare instructions.
Recently pierced people will sometimes assume that once swelling recedes they have fully recovered, not realizing that they need the full 6 – 8 weeks any reputable piercer would recommend that you let your body heal.
When you start feeling physically comfortable with your new piercing, remind yourself that your body still needs time to recover. Stick to your aftercare instructions even if you don’t think you need to.
Aftercare Tips For A New Piercing
Following aftercare instructions is crucial. It’s the single biggest factor which determines how well the piercing turns out aside from the skill of the piercer. There is no standard amount of time for healing since every body and immune system is different. However, there are measures everyone can take to properly care for a fresh piercing.
Touching, rotating, or irritating the piercing in any way disturbs the area and should only be done when cleaning it or if it is wet. The general rule is not to rotate the piercing when it is dry to prevent further damage. Some people fidget or touch the piercing subconsciously, so keeping your hands off the piercing might be one of the hardest instructions to follow.
Many people confuse natural parts of the healing process with signs of infection, and understandably so. A fresh piercing can exhibit redness, feel sore, and become crusty as a natural part of the healing process.
While these symptoms may seem dangerous, they are completely natural. If you think your piercing may be infected, do not apply any balms or creams without first consulting your piercer or a doctor, otherwise you may irritate a piercing which isn’t even infected.
The following aftercare instructions are standard recommendations. If you have extenuating circumstances or your piercer or doctor suggests another course of action you should trust them. If you have questions or concerns, voice them.
Your doctor or piercer should be more than happy to clarify any uncertainties you may have. After all, the more knowledgeable you are the better equipped you are to help your body heal.
- Keep the piercing clean. Gently lather and rinse the affected area with soap and luke-warm water. Some piercers may recommend alcohol as a disinfectant, but alcohol dries out your skin. Dry skin leads to cracks which can prolong the healing process, so we recommend sticking with simple soap and water.
- Get the piercing wet if you need to rotate or remove it. The water will act as a natural lubricant and keep the skin from cracking.
- Monitor your piercing closely to get an idea of how it’s healing. An ear-lobe piercing, one of the most common piercings, can take between 2 and 3 months to fully heal while cartilage piercings can take up to 10 months. Remember that just because it feels better doesn’t mean it is better. Always follow aftercare instructions.
- Ice your piercing gently if there is serious swelling. Your body will try to reject the foreign object, but keeping the swelling down will help you recover more comfortably.
- Stay calm and don’t panic if something seems wrong. If the piercing seems to be getting worse or you see swelling, redness, or pus, call your piercer or doctor. In most cases your piercing is just reacting to irritation. Your piercer will be more than happy to take a look at it for you to make sure you are okay.
Different Piercings & Healing Periods
Depending on where your piercing is located there are different risks involved. Any time your skin is pierced you expose your body to pathogens, meaning no piercing is completely risk-free. However, following aftercare instructions and knowing the risks associated with your piercing location makes you better equipped to make a quick recovery.
Piercings in and around an orifice like your mouth or nose tend to heal faster because there are more veins nourishing the area. Neglecting aftercare instructions in these areas can be especially dangerous since the increased vascularity also means an infection can quickly spread to other parts of the body.
Some areas of the body are more likely to reject a piercing than others and there’s no way to know with certainty whether your body will accept a piercing until you try. Rejection varies on an individual basis and can also be influenced by the type of jewellery and the type of piercing you get. Speak to your piercer if you are concerned about rejection.
If you follow aftercare instructions your body should have no problem healing. It helps to write down your instructions and put them up in a prominent place where you will encounter them often. Your desk at work or your phone wallpaper tend to work well. Contact your piercer with any concerns you may have about aftercare, but otherwise just get plenty of rest, eat well, and don’t touch the piercing too often and you’ll be left with some terrific body art.