aftercare_saline   A sterile saline solution is strongly recommended to heal fresh body piercings, especially to soothe an irritated piercing. Perform saline soaks with packaged sterile saline solution with no preservatives (label should read “iso-tonic saline,” or “0.9% sterile saline” without preservatives). Saline in a spray can is recommended because the contents never become contaminated. Saline that comes packaged as a squeeze bottle or screw off lid is intended for single use only as the solution can easily be contaminated. Nasal irrigation saline sprays and eye contact lens saline cleansers often contain preservatives that can harm your healing piercing as they’re not intended for wound aftercare.

   As an alternative you may create your own sea salt mixture. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized (iodine-free), fine grain sea salt into 1 cup of distilled water. This matches the salt to water ratio of the human body. A saline solution that is too strong can irritate the piercing, do not use more than the amount that is stated above. If you have sensitive skin or you find that your mix is drying your skin, use 1/8 tsp per cup instead. Create a compress by soaking gauze in the solution and gently apply to your piercing with soft pressure. This sea salt solution may also be used as an optional soak by submerging the piercing in a cup with the same mixture. Repeat preferred method for 5-10 minutes, at least twice a day for the next 6 weeks. Your DIY mixture is intended for single use only; create a new mixture each time! Avoid table salt as it contains additives to prevent it from drying or clumping and other components that are not intended for wound aftercare. Also avoid Epsom salt; it is a magnesium sulfate, which does not share the same properties as sodium chloride.

   It is important to wash your hands thoroughly before you clean or touch your new piercing. Before stepping out of your shower be sure to rinse your new piercing to remove any soaps, face wash, or shampoos. Avoid over-cleaning your new piercing, no more than once a day with the use of soap. Rinse with warm water, and pat dry with clean tissue or paper towel (Do not touch your piercing with a bath towel which may snag your piercing or transfer bacteria). Avoid playing with the jewelry, rotating the jewelry or any excessive motion to the body jewelry. These activities can cause the formation of unsightly and uncomfortable scar tissue, migration, prolonged healing, and other complications. Do not remove jewelry during cleaning.

   Crusties, an informal term that describes white or yellow fluid (lymph, not pus) that secretes and dries around a fresh piercing. This is a natural healing phase your body goes through for all body piercings. Gently wash them off with a cotton swab when they become moist during cleaning. Crusties may become itchy and in some cases may cause discomfort. It is imperative not to scratch or pick at these dried secretions, doing so delays healing, causes scarring and risks opening a channel for infection to enter the new piercing.  Other possible symptoms during your healing phase are possible redness, bruising, mild bleeding and/or moderate swelling.

   Avoid soaking your piercing in a bathtub, hot tub or by swimming in a pool, lake or ocean due to harsh chemicals and bacteria. If necessary, use a waterproof bandage for protection such as Nexcare or Tegaderm. Avoid petroleum/oil based products such as peroxide and alcohol; these items are too strong for your new piercing.  Do not use any creams or ointments during the healing process as they prevent necessary air circulation, product labels will often read “not intended for the use of puncture wounds”.  Stay away from products like bactine and ear piercing solutions you find at the mall, they often contain benzalkonium chloride (BZK) and benzethonium chloride (BZT). These items can be irritating and are not intended for long term wound care.

   Prevent fingers, pens, pets, hair, cosmetics, headphones/ear buds, and cell phones from touching or causing friction to your new piercing. Ensure eyeglasses, clothes, sports gear, and bedding remains clean. Do not wear tight or restrictive clothing against your piercing. Clean your piercing before and after your workout routine. Avoid getting someone’s body fluids from entering your new body piercing. The skin tissue surrounding the piercing heals from the outside in giving the appearance that it healed fast. Although the piercing may feel fine, the interior tissue remains fragile. Be patient, and continue cleaning until the healing process has run its course. A poor diet, lack of sleep and stress can all have a negative effect on healing time.

   Unless there is a problem with the size, style, or material of the initial jewelry; leave it in place for the entire healing period. Seek assistance of a professional piercer for changing initial jewelry! If an infection is suspected, quality jewelry should be left in place to allow for drainage of the infection. If jewelry is removed, the piercing may close over, sealing the infection inside resulting in an abscess. Do not remove jewelry unless instructed by a medical professional. Jewelry should be purchased from a qualified piercer; it is not unheard of for piercings that are many years old become destroyed from low quality jewelry. Keep spare beads with you in case of breakage or loss of jewelry. On a regular basis, use clean hands to check the beads on your barbells. Do not hang weights or objects from your jewelry until the piercing is fully healed.


   Healing piercings on the inside of your mouth is best done with a saline solution rinse and/or, an antimicrobial or antibacterial, non-alcoholic mouthwash (e.g., Tech 2000 or Biotene). Rinse for approximately 30 seconds and repeat this process at least two times a day. Follow the directions of your mouthwash carefully; do not exceed the amount of use that is instructed on the package. Drink plenty of cold water several times a day to minimize swelling.

   Use a saline solution rinse after meals during the initial healing time. Do not chew on items that may contain bacteria (i.e., gum, pens, glasses, fingernails, etc…). Avoid letting your piercing come in contact with someone’s body fluids. Refrain from kissing and unprotected oral sex during your healing period. Stay away from aspirin, large amounts of caffeine, and alcoholic beverages for the first several days. Alcohol can increase swelling and may diminish white blood cells during healing. Smoking will increase chance of infection, suppress your immune system, and prolong healing. Stay away from spicy, acidic and hot beverages until healing has finished; take small bites and eat slowly. Plaque may form around tongue jewelry, commonly the bottom ball and/or barbell, this can be removed by gently scrubbing your jewelry with a soft bristled toothbrush. Avoid playing with your piercing which can cause unsightly scar tissue, migration, irritation, or trauma to teeth and gums. Keep jewelry in, even healed oral piercings are known to close up rather quickly.

   You were pierced with jewelry that is long enough to accommodate for swelling that will occur during your healing process. Depending on the individual and placement of jewelry, swelling for fresh oral piercings can subside in approximately 7-10 days. Jewelry can be changed to better fit your anatomy after this time has passed. You may take an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen (following package instructions) to assist with swelling (i.e., Advil, Motrin, etc…). It is also suggested to sleep with your head propped up on pillows; keeping your head elevated above your heart will help avoid overnight initial swelling and/or bleeding.


   It is recommended to wait 4 weeks before engaging in sexual acts however genital piercings do not prohibit sexual activity. During healing, all sexual activities must be gentle. To increase comfort and minimize trauma during intercourse, soak in a warm saline solution to remove any crusty matter from the healing process prior to sexual activity. Wash your hands before touching or cleaning the jewelry. Comfort and hygiene are vital, you may engage in sexual activity when you feel ready.

   Absolutely no contact between your piercing and other peoples body fluids during healing. Use barriers such as condoms, dental dams, and/or tegaderm to avoid contact with a partner’s body fluids. Otherwise you risk infection, even if you and your partner are monogamous and healthy. Use a new container of water based lubricant, not saliva, and clean, disposable barriers on sex toys. Urinating may sting for the first few days; drink plenty of water to help lower acidic levels.

   Avoid using antibacterial or other harsh soaps that contain triclosan, scents, dyes or additives that may irritate your piercing and surrounding skin. Over cleaning, and long term use of these products may cause antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria as well as possible yeast infections for both men and women by unbalancing the normal flora. Saline soaks is recommended, soak your piercing for approximately 5-10 minutes or use a warm compress by soaking gauze in the solution, and gently apply to the piercing.


   If you suspect an issue during the healing of your new piercing do not self-diagnose the problem, seek advice from a professional body piercer. Contact me if you have any questions about the use of any home remedies during your aftercare. I encourage my clients to return in a few weeks for a consult to check in on the progress of the healing piercing. If you have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to call the studio, or drop in for my advice.


   Below you will find a .pdf document containing approximate minimum healing times for body piercings. Keep in mind the estimated healing times may vary from person to person depending on several factors such as placement of jewelry, jewelry quality, aftercare and maintaining good health habits. Source: The Piercing Bible.


   I fully support and recommend using SimpleCare for the healing of body piercings. Manufactured by Punk Medics; the SimpleCare vegan aftercare spray is 100% organic!

   As an alternative to these products I recommend a sterile saline solution such as Wound Wash Saline. Professional piercer Jef Saunders wrote a “Saline Solution Buyer’s Guide” on his blog and I suggest you read it over, there are many saline solutions available. He covers what is best for your healing piercings and what to avoid.

   I strongly recommend a sterile saline solution instead of mixing your own sea salt solution at home. “Learn About Sea Salt” is written by piercer extraordinaire Brian Skellie. The article questions how safe and sterile over the counter sea salt products are for wound care.

   The Association of Professional Piercers have several body piercing aftercare brochures covering a wide range of important topics available on their website and they are free to download!

   Stretching your ears? Do it safely by having patience, quality jewelery and frequent massaging (I recommend the use of Punk Medics’ Holey Butt’r). Check this “Ear Stretching Guide” (1) written by professional piercers AJ Goldman and Sarah Wooten. Feel free to join in on the discussion! For another great article check out Jef Saunder’s “Ear Piercing Stretching Guide” (2).
Source: (1)
Source: (2)


   Any instruction in regards to aftercare on this website is based on experience along with that of other professionals in the body modification industry and is not presented as medical advice.

Pub. Date: 2011-03-06
Rev. Date: 2016-10-04