Standard Aftercare Practices: A Beginner’s Guide to a New Piercing April 18, 2019 – Posted in: Informative – Tags: , , , ,

You’ve done it! You researched your new piercing, gained the courage to sit in the piercer’s chair, and now you’re the proud owner of a new piercing.

Although undergoing the piercer’s needle may seem like the most difficult part of the piercing process, your path to healing has only just begun. Depending on the piercing you chose, healing can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 12 months. During this time, you will need to make sure that you’re practicing proper aftercare to avoid potentially serious complications, such as infections or tissue death.

Beyond consistently cleaning the pierced area, you’ll need to make some lifestyle adjustments until your piercing has healed. Here are some standard piercing aftercare practices and tips on healing for your new piercing.

Keep the pierced area clean

As your piercing heals, you need to make sure that you’re keeping the pierced area clean. Essentially, your body is healing from an open wound. As with any injury, you must keep the area clean to avoid infection.

There are tons of piercing cleaning options. Some choose to make their own solutuons using a sea salt bath. However, there are many complications that can arise when mixing your own solution. It’s easy to get the ratio wrong, which can lead to weak skin irritation, and tap water can harbor bacteria that is harmful to your piercing. If you make your own solution in bulk, it may become containinated over time.

Saline sprays are a much easier solution to use, and they are much more portable. If you tend to be on-the-go, or if you’d like to be able to clean while at work, the saline spray is the way to go.

NeilMed NeilCleanse Piercing Aftercare Sprays are drug-free and preservative-free, so you can enjoy the clean feeling of a natural cleanser with the convenience of a spray. With the fine mist application, you can apply the saline solution directly to the piercing and let it soak. Once done soaking, pat the area dry with a clean paper towel or let the solution soak into your skin.

For piercings that are a little more difficult to clean, like nose or lip piercings that have exit points in high-bacteria areas, you might want to opt for the full stream option. The full stream allows you to fill a small cup with saline solution, creating a bath that you can soak your piercing in.

Beyond offering an easier option than homemade sea salt baths, NeilClenase can be used to clean small scrapes and cuts, so even if you don’t use the entire bottle after getting pierced, they’ll still find use.

Keep the pierced area dry

Perhaps the most obvious reason for keeping your piercing dry is that bacteria love moist places. If your piercing is damp, harmful bacteria could gather and cause infection.

Other, less known, reasons for keeping the area dry is to avoid piercing bumps. Bumps around the new piercing site are fairly common, and there are many reasons why a bump might form. Many of these bumps come from infections caused by dampness. Beyond being unsightly, these bumps can lead to scarring and other permanent issues, so they’re best to be avoided.

After you shower, be sure to fully dry your new piercing with a clean paper towel.

Don’t take baths while your piercing heals. When you shower, try to keep your piercing away from the water as much as possible, and make sure that your piercing is the first thing that you dry.

When you dry your piercing, be sure to use a clean napkin or paper towel. The fibers of a standard towel can catch your jewelry and rip it out, which is both painful and damaging. Additionally, paper towels are typically cleaner than cloth ones, since cloth towels harbor bacteria.

It’s a good idea to travel with clean paper towels as well as your saline spray so that you can take care of your piercing when faced with unexpected issues, such as getting caught in the rain.

Try not to touch your new jewelry

As you adjust to your new jewelry, you might be tempted to play with it. Although the draw is understandable, you must fight against it; spinning or moving your jewelry can cause trauma to the pierced area.

In the first days of healing, your piercing will likely excrete some clear fluids, leading to some crusting around the piercing site. You’ll be tempted to pick it off, but this can lead to scabbing or permanent scarring. To clean off the crusties, you can gently soak the area with NeilMed’s Aftercare Solution. Once soaked, gently dab the crust from your piercing.

Trauma to the skin can cause more than temporary discomfort. Bumps like keloid scars and hypertrophic scarring occur when the skin has experienced trauma. Although the likelihood of developing these complications often depends upon genetics, you always want to be careful; shrinking or removing these bumps can be difficult. Often, it requires expensive procedures and even surgery. Save yourself the struggle and leave your jewelry alone.

Choose the right size for your jewelry

In the first days of your piercing, you’ll experience some swelling. You need to make sure that your jewelry accommodates this.

Woman sticks out tongue to show tongue jewelry.
Photo by Lorenzo Nafissi on Unsplash

Your piercer should help fit you with the right jewelry. However, it’s your responsibility to keep an eye on your jewelry during healing and make sure that the jewelry doesn’t press against the piercing. If it does, visit your piercer to get fit with a larger piece. Jewelry that presses against a piercing, whether it’s healed or not, risks becoming embedded in the skin.

Conversely, you want to make sure that your jewelry isn’t too large. Long barbells in new lip piercings run the risk of being chomped upon, which can break your teeth. In other piercings, larger jewelry might fall out and can be more easily snagged. After your swelling has gone down, talk to your piercer about changing your jewelry to a smaller piece.

During healing, you always want to visit your piercer for any jewelry change. They know how to navigate the healing piercing without causing trauma to the skin. Even once you’ve completed the healing process, you should talk to your piercer before changing your jewelry. The inside of the piercing will take longer to heal than the outside, and your piercer will be able to investigate and let you know if your piercing is ready.

Know how to tell an infection from natural healing

Especially in the first days of healing, your piercing will experience swelling, throbbing, and some secretion of bodily fluids. While all of these symptoms are natural parts of the healing process, they can also be signs of more serious issues, so it’s important to understand when it’s natural healing and when you need to see a medical professional.

Please note: This is not to be construed as medical advice. If you ever have any doubt or concern, see a medical professional immediately.

Photo by from Pexels

Bodily fluids

For the most part, clear or slightly white excretion is normal in the first days of healing. This is what will likely form any crust around the piercing site.

If the excretion is fully white or green, like pus, it could be a sign of an infection. Play it safe and talk to a professional.


Swelling will happen in the first few days after your piercing, especially in meatier areas like your lips or eyebrows. The swelling may feel a bit of a throb. These are all normal parts of the initial healing process.

If you experience excess swelling, the swelled area feels feverish, or if the swelling doesn’t go away after a couple of days, it could be a sign that your piercing is infected. Take a trip to urgent care to get it checked out.


You might experience some light bleeding the first day or two after your piercing. After all, you did just get a hole poked through your body. However, this bleeding should be able to be staved by a small tissue.

Excessive bleeding or bleeding that occurs later in the healing process is symptomatic of other issues. If you have any doubt in your mind that the bleeding might be unusual, consult a doctor or your piercer.

In the end, a lot of the infection symptoms come down to common sense. If you’ve ever had a fairly nasty scrape, the symptoms will be similar. Keep an eye on your piercing, and at the first sign of potential infection, play it safe, and see a professional.

Adhere to certain lifestyle changes

As your piercing heals, there will be certain things that you will need to refrain from completely. Piercing aftercare goes beyond keeping the piercing site clean. Essentially, your body is healing from a wound, and you need to take care of yourself as your body takes care of the issue. Here are some don’t-do activities while you’re healing.

Don’t go swimming

As mentioned previously, you need to keep your piercing dry. Whether you want to swim in a private pool or a natural lake, standing pools of water will have tons of bacteria that you don’t want anywhere near your piercing. Until your healing is complete and confirmed by your piercer, stay away from water except to shower.

A pierced woman drinks a beer

One drink here or there is fine, but refrain from heavy drinking while you heal.

Don’t party

Excessive drinking lowers your body’s ability to fight off infection, which is the last thing you want when it’s trying to heal itself. One glass of wine or cocktail is fine, but you must refrain from heavy drinking while you heal. You should also stay away from smoking since cigarettes hold harmful chemicals that can adversely affect your new piercing. Although this should go without saying (and we don’t condone this even outside of piercing aftercare), stay away from recreational drug use, as well.

Don’t stay up all night

Whether you’re recuperating from a new piercing or a nasty cold, rest is essential. Make sure that you get enough sleep every night to give your body the energy it needs to heal your piercing. In addition to staying well-rested, you should maintain good diet practices. Any tool that you can give your body as it heals is a plus.

Don’t touch your piercing with anything other than aftercare materials

This might seem like a fairly obvious tip when trying to avoid infection, but it can be harder than you think. It’s difficult to realize how many foreign objects might touch your new piercing site until you’re trying to keep it clear.

woman with piercing laughs

Keep your piercing away from foreign objects, including clothing and facial products.

Keep makeup, lotion, sunscreen products away from your piercing. The new piercing can easily become clogged, leading to infection.

You also need to be careful about the clothing you wear around your piercing. Keep scarves, hats, and other clothing items away from your piercing. If you must have clothing touch the piercing, make sure that the clothing is clean and that you clean the pierced site afterward. For facial piercings, you should cover your pillow with a clean t-shirt each night to minimize exposure to bacteria. Additionally, you should try not to sleep on the piercing, since prolonged pressure can cause the jewelry to become embedded in the skin.

Piercing aftercare can be a bit of a process, but when your aftercare practice has ended and you’re left with a gorgeous new piercing, it will be worth it. Always err on the side of caution, make the necessary lifestyle changes through the entire healing process, and talk to a piercer or doctor if you have any concerns. If you adhere to proper practices, you should experience a positive healing period.

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