You’ve just got a shiny new piercing and you can’t wait to show it off to your friends and post it on snap chat. It’s probably a bit swollen and you’re already itching to change the jewellery for something prettier, but here’s the key to healing your piercings: leave it alone. Unless you’re cleaning it, try to touch it as little as possible in the first few weeks. It’s hard, I know, but it will do wonders for the healing process.

Cleaning

I recommend cleaning new piercings with saline solution 2-3 times a day. This is made by mixing a cup of boiling water with 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt (not table salt). The problem with using homemade saline solution as opposed to shop bought products etc, is most people can’t be bothered to make it twice a day to clean their piercings. There are two ways around this 1) Buy sterile saline solution to use on your piercings 2) Make a big batch. To make a batch mix up the solution each week and transfer it to a clean water bottle and using it throughout the week. This makes the cleaning process a lot less effort. You can even buy an empty spray bottle from the pound shop or Wilko and put the solution in there. The warm saline solution can help get rid of crusties and draw out fluids, but you can always get rid of crust with plain hot (but don’t burn yourself) water before using saline solution.

Another reason people tend to get shop-bought antiseptics to clean their piercing is because they feel saline solution isn’t enough and antiseptics will clean it more. In reality, antiseptics can often be too harsh on new piercings, and while it will clean the piercing and get rid of bacteria, it won’t encourage healing. Saline solution is natural and both cleans your piercing and promotes healing

Healing Time

Most piercers will tell you your piercing is going to take 2-3 months to heal. What they really mean is, in 2-3 months you should be able to safely change the jewellery. Many piercings (such as cartilage and nipple) can take up to a year to fully heal and may puss for months. It’s common to mistake this for infection, but as long as your piercing isn’t super painful or swollen it’s likely that it’s just still healing. If you get to 2-3 months and your piercing has healed slower than expected, it’s best to leave changing the jewellery for another few weeks.

Common Piercing Problems

Your piercing is more susceptible to problems at the start of its life. Here are a few problems that are common with initial piercings.

Infection

Puss alone is not a sign of infection. If the puss has changed colour or your piercing is extremely painful/swollen, that is when it’s time to consider infection as a cause. Many doctors will advise you to take your piercing out and let it heal. Most doctors also know nothing about body piercing. Leave your piercing in, it provides a drain for the infection. Taking it out could seal the infection inside you. Keep cleaning it regularly and you may need to go on a course of antibiotics (this is when your doctor will insist you take it out, unless it’s super infected I’d stand your ground). Try cleaning it for a few weeks before asking for antibiotics as it may be something minor that can be fought off without antibiotics/it may not even be an infection. If you do go on a course of antibiotics, keep cleaning your piercing, even after you’ve finished them. Give it time to heal.

Swelling

When you’re pierced you’re piercer should have put a slightly bigger piece of jewellery in to allow for swelling. Sometimes they don’t, or sometimes a client swells more than expecting. If your piercing is pinching, cutting or the balls of the jewellery are imbedding into the piercing you may need to go back to your piercer and get your jewellery swapped to a larger size. It may not look as good, but once it’s all healed you’ll be able to downsize your jewellery again.

Allergies

I have a severe nickel allergy. Nickel allergies are very common, and nickel is present in many materials used to make body jewellery. If your piercing is irritated either by the initial piercing jewellery or by jewellery you’ve put in after it’s healed, it may be that you’re allergic to it. Swap to titanium and see if it improves. You can get standard titanium body jewellery in most piercing places, but it’s often overpriced and you pay something ridiculous like £5 for one plain earring. At Hole Hearted, I try and keep standard body jewellery prices as low as possible.

Bumps

There are many types of lumps that can appear on your piercing, particularly on cartilage and nose piercings. The most common type of bump is usually pink and full of fluid. Hot saline soaks 2-3 times should help clear this up, but you need to be persistent and stick with it for a few weeks. If you still have bumps but they’ve improved, stick with it longer. If your bumps are still the same size, try putting diluted tea tree oil on your piercing (you can buy this is Boots for a couple of quid). Do not pick your bumps. You’ll irritate the piercing and they’re just grow back. Picking off your bumps can also leave a small scar in their place when you do eventually get rid of them.

Migration/Rejection

Migration/rejection is less common at the start, but still something I feel you should be aware of so you know what to look out for. Some piercings can move/grow out the skin over time. If you notice signs of your piercing migrating or rejecting, contact your piercer and ask them to take a look. It’s usually best to take it out, but piercings can sometimes be saved by using different size jewellery. If you do take it out, you can usually get it redone when it’s healed over.

General tips:

Be careful not to catch it – It’s super easy to catch certain piercings. Cartilage piercings are known for being caught by hair brushes

Check the balls are tight every couple of days to ensure the bar won’t fall out

Google problems, but use caution – Most people do not realise how common and easily solved their piercing problems are before they consult their piercer. Sometimes a quick search can take away all the anxiety of a piercing problem, but be careful not to over-diagnose yourself!

When your piercing is finally healed and you’re ready to change it, check out Hole Hearted for some cute and affordable body jewellery.

If you need help with a problematic piercing (whether you were pierced by me or not), drop me a message and let’s try and get it sorted (pics welcome).