Suggested Aftercare Guidelines
for Body Piercings
Use one or both of the following solutions for healing piercings:
Packaged sterile saline solution with no additives (read the label), or a non-iodized sea salt mixture: Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon
of non-iodized (iodine-free) sea salt into one cup (8 oz.) of warm distilled or bottled water. A stronger mixture is not better;
a saline solution that is too strong can irritate the piercing.
• A mild, fragrance-free liquid soap—preferably
anti-microbial or germicidal.
CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS FOR BODY PIERCINGS
• WASH your hands thoroughly prior
to cleaning or touching your piercing for any reason.
• SALINE soak for five to ten minutes once or more per day.
Invert a cup of warm saline solution over the area to form a vacuum. For certain piercings it may be easier to apply using
clean gauze or paper towels saturated with saline solution. A brief rinse afterward will remove any residue.
SOAP no more than once or twice a day. While showering, lather up a pearl size drop of the soap to clean the jewelry and the
piercing. Leave the cleanser on the piercing no more than thirty seconds.
• RINSE thoroughly to remove all traces
of the soap from the piercing. It is not necessary to rotate the jewelry through the piercing.
• DRY by gently
patting with clean, disposable paper products. Cloth towels can harbor bacteria and snag on jewelry, causing injury.
• Initially: some bleeding, localized swelling, tenderness, or bruising.
• During healing:
some discoloration, itching, secretion of a whitish-yellow fluid (not pus) that will form some crust on the jewelry. The tissue
may tighten around the jewelry as it heals.
• Once healed: the jewelry may not move freely in the piercing; do
not force it. If you fail to include cleaning your piercing as part of your daily hygiene routine, normal but smelly bodily
secretions may accumulate.
• A piercing may seem healed before the healing process is complete. This is because
tissue heals from the outside in, and although it feels fine, the interior remains fragile. Be patient, and keep cleaning
throughout the entire healing period.
• Even healed piercings can shrink or close in minutes after having been
there for years! This varies from person to person; if you like your piercing, keep jewelry in—do not leave it empty.
• Wash your hands prior to touching the piercing; leave it alone except when cleaning. During healing, it
is not necessary to rotate your jewelry.
• Stay healthy; the healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for
your piercing to heal. Get enough sleep and eat a nutritious diet. Exercise during healing is fine; listen to your body.
Make sure your bedding is washed and changed regularly. Wear clean, comfortable, breathable clothing that protects your piercing
while you are sleeping.
• Showers tend to be safer than taking baths, as bathtubs can harbor bacteria. If you bathe
in a tub, clean it well before each use and rinse off your piercing when you get out.
WHAT TO AVOID
cleaning with Betadine®, Hibiciens®, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Dial® or other harsh soaps, as these can damage
cells. Also avoid ointments as they prevent necessary air circulation. Click here to download information on triclosan dangers
• Avoid Bactine®, pierced ear care solutions and other products containing Benzalkonium Chloride (BZK). These
can be irritating and are not intended for long term wound care.
• Avoid over-cleaning. This can delay your healing
and irritate your piercing.
• Avoid undue trauma such as friction from clothing, excessive motion of the area,
playing with the jewelry, and vigorous cleaning. These activities can cause the formation of unsightly and uncomfortable scar
tissue, migration, prolonged healing, and other complications.
• Avoid all oral contact, rough play, and contact
with others’ bodily fluids on or near your piercing during healing.
• Avoid stress and recreational drug
use, including excessive caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
• Avoid submerging the piercing in unhygenic bodies of
water such as lakes, pools, hot tubs, etc. Or, protect your piercing using a waterproof wound-sealant bandage (such as 3M™
Nexcare™ Clean Seals). These are available at most drugstores.
• Avoid all beauty and personal care products
on or around the piercing including cosmetics, lotions, and sprays, etc.
• Don’t hang charms or any object
from your jewelry until the piercing is fully healed.
HINTS AND TIPS
• Unless there is a
problem with the size, style, or material of the initial jewelry, leave it in the place for the entire healing period. See
a qualified piercer to perform any jewelry change that becomes necessary during healing. See the APP website to locate an
APP member, or to request a copy of our Picking Your Piercer brochure.)
• Contact your piercer if your jewelry
must be removed (such as for a medical procedure). There are non-metallic jewelry alternatives available.
jewelry in at all times. Even old or well-healed piercing can shrink or close in minutes even after having been there for
years. If removed, re-insertion can be difficult or impossible.
• With clean hands or paper product, be sure to
regularly check threaded ends on your jewelry for tightness. (“Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.”)
a clean spare ball in case of loss or breakage.
• Should you decide you no longer want the piercing, simply remove
the jewelry (or have a professional piercer remove it) and continue cleaning the piercing until the hole closes. In most cases
only a small mark will remain.
• In the event an infection is suspected, quality jewelry or an inert alternative
should be left in place to allow for drainage or the infection. If the jewelry is removed, the surface cells can close up,
which can seal the infection inside the piercing channel and result in an abscess. Do not remove jewelry unless instructed
to by a medical professional.
FOR PARTICULAR AREAS
• A hard, vented eye patch (sold at pharmacies)
can be applied under tight clothing (such as nylon stockings) or secured using a length of Ace® bandage around the body
(to avoid irritation from adhesive). This can protect the area from restrictive clothing, excess irritation, and impact during
physical activities such as contact sports.
EAR/EAR CARTILAGE AND FACIAL:
• Use the t-shirt trick: Dress
your pillow in a large, clean t-shirt and turn it nightly; one clean t-shirt provides four clean surfaces for sleeping.
Maintain cleanliness of telephones, headphones, eyeglasses, helmets, hats, and anything that contacts the pierced area.
Use cation when styling your hair and advise your stylist of a new or healing piercing.
• The support
of a tight cotton shirt or sports bra may provide protection and feel comfortable, especially for sleeping.
Genital Piercings—especially Prince Alberts, Ampallangs, and Apadravyas—can bleed freely for the first few days.
• Urinate after using soap to clean any piercing that is near the urethra.
• Wash your
hands before touching on (or near) a healing piercing.
• In most cases you can engage in sexual activity as soon
as you feel ready, but maintaining hygiene and avoiding trauma are vital; all sexual activities should be gentle during the
• Use barriers such as condoms, dental dams, and waterproof bandages, etc. to avoid contact with
your partners’ body fluids, even in monogamous relationships.
• Use clean, disposable barriers on sex toys.
Use a new container of water-based lubricant; do not use saliva.
• After sex, an additional saline soak or clean
water rinse is suggested.
Each body is unique and healing times vary considerably. If you have any questions, please
contact your piercer.
These guidelines are based on a combination of vast professional experience,
common sense, research and extensive clinical practice. This is not to be considered a substitute for medical advice from
a doctor. If you suspect an infection, seek medical attention. Be aware that many doctors have not received specific training
regarding piercing. Your local piercer may be able to refer you to a piercing-friendly medical professional. For more information,
see the APP Brochure Troubleshooting For You and Your Healthcare Professional.