Aftercare for piercings above the neck
Your piercing was performed professionally and appropriately. Follow these simple suggestions, and your healing period should go smoothly. Although not physicians, Gothic technicians are available whenever you have questions about aftercare. Please call us anytime!
A normal piercing
- May be tender, swollen, itchy, and/or slightly red, for a few weeks
- May bleed a little for the first few days
- May secrete a whitish-yellow fluid which may crust on the jewelry. This is not pus.
- May tighten around the jewelry as it heals, making turning somewhat difficult
How should I clean my piercing?
- Use a gentle antiseptic containing Benzalkonium Chloride or Benzethonium Chloride. Special ear piercing antiseptic, sometimes called Ear Care or Earseptic, is very gentle.
- If you can’t find these, try Bactine or No More Ouches. Since these products contain fragrance and other irritants, dilute them 50% with water.
- Wash hands well before touching the piercing. Using a fresh cotton swab, remove any crusted matter, then rotate a little antiseptic gently into the piercing. Rotate the jewelry several times. Antiseptic does not need to be rinsed off, but you man choose to soak the piercing after cleaning.
- Clean the piercing no more then two times a day. Cleaning more frequently may damage the delicate skin cells, and cleaning less frequently may invite infection. When you are not cleaning the piercing, leave it alone.
What else can I do?
- Many piercees have found that Vitamin C (3000 MG in mineral ascorbate form), multivitamins, and Zinc supplement (women: 60 MG, men 120 MG, for about two weeks) speed healing and regeneration of the tissue.
- Hot soaks, and compresses, with the optimal addition of ¼ TSP. Sea salt per cup of clean water, are strongly suggested for cartilage and other piercings. To soak, invert a cup of water over the piercing, forming vacuum, or soak in a clean bathtub. Make a compress with paper towels to insure cleanliness. You can do this once or twice daily, for about 10-15 minutes.
When can I remove or change the jewelry?
- Your piercing will not be completely healed for several years. Even after the piercing has healed. Reinsertion can be difficult and sometimes impossible, especially in nipple piercings. Woman’s nipple piercings may take slightly longer to heal.
- Jewelry should not be changed during the initial healing period, usually about 6-10 months. Be sure to always wear appropriate jewelry in you piercings, even when fully healed. Jewelry designed for earlobes is never appropriate, and can damage your piercing.
- If you must remove the jewelry temporarily, call your piercer or use an insertion taper lubricated with a little antibiotic ointment to insert a piece of uncolored monofilament nylon. Weed-eater or fishing line work well. 160 LB test is equivalent to a 12-14 gauge. This will retain the piercing until you can reinsert the jewelry.
- It is no problem to permanently remove the jewelry. In most cases, only a small indentation will remain. We encourage you to call your piercer.
Do I have an infection?Infections are caused by contact with bacteria, fungi, or other living pathogens. Piercing infections can usually be traced to one of the following activities:
- Touching the piercing with unwashed hands, or letting someone else touch the piercing
- Oral contact with the piercing including your own saliva
- Allowing body fluids to contact the piercing (your urine is sterile to your own body)
- Contact with hair, cosmetics, oils, infrequently washed clothing and/or bedding, or other agents
- Going into a pool, hot tub, lake, ocean, or other body of water (your own clean bathtub is OK).
How can I tell if I have an infection?While these symptoms may also indicate other problems, look for the following indications of infection:
- Redness and swelling
- A sensation of heat at the piercing site
- Pain, especially throbbing or spreading pain
- Unusual discharge. It may be yellowish, greenish, or grayish
I think I have an infection. What should I do?
- While it is never inappropriate to see your piercing friendly physician, a call to your piercer may save you a trip. If possible, visit your piercer and show him/her the piercing. Also tell him/her about any circumstances which may have led to an infection.
- Please do not remove the jewelry! This may aggravate the problem by closing off the drainage for the matter.
- The effectiveness of an oral antibiotic depends on selecting the right one for the job. This should only be done by a physician! If you have used an over the counter topical antibiotic ointment before without adverse effects, it may be appropriate to use sparingly, for no more then 3-5 days. Many people are very sensitive to antibiotics, particularly Neomycin; Bacitracin is the least problematic ointment.
Common problems you can avoid
- Over cleaning. Vigorous cleaning, or using a cleanser that is too strong can produce symptoms very similar to an infection. The skin may be very tender and appear shiny, and there may be a clear discharge.
- Friction caused by tight or heavy clothing, rough sexual activity, or excessive movement of the area can cause dark redness, keloids, discharge, and rejection/migration. This is a common problem for navel piercings.
- Stress, poor diet, or illness can cause longer healing
times, or migration of the piercing.