Aftercare rule Number 1
Please do not expect too much too soon!
Remember that healing times vary with the type and position of the piercing, and can vary significantly from person to person depending upon a variety of factors such as lifestyle, movement and your overall health.
Please see our healing times page to learn how long your piercing will take to heal and bear in mind for some piercings like cartilage or surface piercings it can commonly take a year or more for it to heal!
Please do not remove or replace the initial piercing jewellery until it is fully healed aside from returning to the studio at the time advised by your piercer for your essential downsize.
Please try to ensure a piece of jewellery is worn in the piercing for at least 12 months after it has healed, if jewellery needs to be removed for any reason, it is advisable to wear a retainer to ensure your piercing does not close up.
Sleeping can be a real challenge for slow-healing piercings like ear cartilage. We recommend using a pillow with a hole in it to help you sleep on your side – this can be a cheap U shaped travel pillow, or if you want the best we recommend The Pillow With a Hole! Follow this link for more info: https://thepillowwithahole.co.uk/pwah/Holier/
Things to expect from your piercing:
Soon after the piercing, it may bleed if knocked. This is common and perfectly normal! Just apply some sterile gauze and pressure for a couple of minutes until the blood clots.
For the first few weeks, expect the area to be red, swollen, tender, puffy & sometimes bruised.
Expect the piercing to bleed on and off and secrete a sticky clear/white/pale yellow fluid throughout the healing process. This may form a crust once its dried. Many people mistake this fluid as a sign of infection – please don’t worry, its usually lymph which is completely normal and is a healthy part of the healing process. A green smelly fluid indicates infection.
General aftercare for all piercings
Clean your piercing twice daily using Neilmed piercing aftercare spray or a single use sterile saline pod. Make sure your hands are clean before cleaning your piercing!
Spray the solution onto a piece of clean lint free kitchen roll and ‘soak’ the piercing for a couple of minutes. Then use a clean cotton bud dipped in the solution to remove any ‘crusty’ bits of secretion that should now be nice and soft thanks to the soak.
Pat dry with clean kitchen roll following cleaning.
When cleaning, ensure any balls or attachments on your jewellery are tightened as they can come loose easily due to the natural movement of the area.
Downsizing my piercing:
Almost all piercings are performed with a slightly too-long bar to allow for your body to have a good swell. This is a natural immune response and absolutely to be expected. Once the big swell has passed and you have wiggle-room on the bar, a downsize is essential to avoid irritation and complications during healing from excess mechanical movement. Book your downsize appointment on the website
What should I clean my piercing with?
You want a 0.9% sterile saline solution to clean your piercing with. It should be Sterilised, pre-mixed, and have a sterile delivery method like a can spray that ensures bacteria cannot enter the can once opened.
We recommend Neilmed. You can purchase this from us in the studio or online from a variety of sources.
You can also use single use 0.9% sterile saline eyewash pods (these can be purchased from Boots etc. but work out around 50p each, and as you need to clean your piercing twice daily this is a very costly method.)
DO NOT USE Antiseptic preparations such as Savlon cream or spray, TCP, Hydrogen Peroxide, Lavender oil, Tea tree oil, Dettol, Surgical Spirit etc – DO NOT USE THESE to clean your piercing! These are very harsh and will cause irritation and delay healing.
DO NOT USE contact lens solution or similar to clean your piercing – these contain preservatives and chemicals not suitable for the skin.
DO NOT USE any bottled re-sealable piercing solutions like those from Claires Accessories or online. Despite the fact that these are marketed as a piercing aftercare solution, they often contain nasty preservatives and do not have a sterile delivery method – this means that once opened they carry a high risk of causing infection due to growth of Pseudomona aeruginosa or Notuberculosis Mycobacteria (NTM). The only way to protect yourself against this is to buy a sterilised product, with a sterile delivery method such as H2Ocean or Stericlens.
Whilst it is possible to mix up your own saline solution, we no longer recommend you do so, because it is difficult to make this up in a hygienic environment at home, and people sometimes accidentally use the incorrect type of salt. People have also struggled to mix up salt and water in the correct ratio – If a saline solution is mixed up too strong, it dries out the skin and can cause lots of issues during healing such as fluid bumps (which, if untreated, can lead to hypertrophic scarring), and if it is mixed up too weakly, there isn’t enough salt in the solution which can lead to increased risk of infection. If you really insist on mixing up your own saltwater solution, be sure to use exactly half a pint (285ml) of boiling water and add exactly a quarter of a teaspoon of rock or sea salt (NOT table salt) and be sure that the container you are mixing it up in is very clean. Allow it to cool slightly before use so you do not burn yourself, and be sure to mix it up fresh each time you clean your piercing.
Avoid soap, shampoo, and chemical residues from showering/bathing. Be sure to rinse the piercing with clean water following a shower or a bath.
Avoid playing or fiddling with the piercing using dirty fingers. This will likely increase healing time, cause it to swell, and/or cause an infection.
Avoid moving or twisting the piercing whilst dry. If any secreted discharge has hardened on the jewellery, turning it may tear the skin, increase scarring and the risk of getting fluid build-ups, it will prolong healing and could leave you more susceptible to infection.
Avoid knocking the piercing or causing any trauma – A knock may cause swelling or soreness to flare up again throughout the healing phase.
Avoid swimming pools for the first few weeks.
Avoid sleeping on your piercing – it will delay healing and can migrate the piercing – causing it to heal ‘wonky’.
How to sooth a piercing, increase the rate in which it will heal, and combat infection:
All piercings (healed or healing) can benefit from a hot compress, here’s why:
Hot compresses open capillaries and help lymphatic drainage. Theres pro’s and cons to every hot compress method, none are perfect and all have drawbacks, but these suggestions help more than they harm.
Reasons why hot compresses for your piercing may be desired or required:
- Its irritated / inflamed / sore
- Its got a fluid build-up
- Its taking a while to heal
- Its secreting more than usual
- You just want to increase comfort and speed up the healing process!
Hot compresses will soothe the area and draw out any trapped pollutants such as perfume or hairspray or everyday dust etc. It also opens up tiny blood vessels surrounding the piercing and helps fluid drain, feeling all together more comfortable.
Hot dry compresses do work, but its difficult to make a hot dry compress at home without potentially contaminating your gauze or paper (microwaves are not clean environments, most people would put tissue on a plate to warm it up). Also this method is a two step process, as you must first clean your piercing to make sure there are no crusties present which would hurt the piercing during compressing.
Hot saline compresses are arguably the best, but its important not to boil off any water from your 0.9% sterile saline else it’ll be too salty! So take a clean pot with a lid and microwave some Neilmed in this pot and use clean gauze to apply the hot saline to your piercing (we want it hot but obviously not hot enough to burn you!) – the cons of this method is that its easy to contaminate your sterile saline if you aren’t confident with cross contamination, as the pot and microwave aren’t sterile, and also this is the most expensive method of hot compressing your piercings.
Chamomile compresses are cheap and effective. Chamomile compresses are not sterile, but the natural antibiotic qualities of chamomile fight infection and as such it can be considered instead of sterile saline or hot/dry compresses. The only other potential risk with chamomile is a very low risk of allergic reaction, we genuinely have more clients allergic to titanium than chamomile, but its important to mention.
Chamomile is a daisy-like plant that is commonly used to make herb infusions to treat various medical problems or just to enjoy as a herbal tea.
The word ‘Chamomile’ translates via Latin and French from Greek and essentially means “Earth Apple”. It has the following incredible natural (and scientifically valid) medical effects:
Why Chamomile is so great and why it is also very helpful as a topical treatment / soothing soak for piercings:
Anticoagulant effect – Coumarin compounds in chamomile have blood-thinning properties.
Anti-inflammatory effect – Several chemical compounds within chamomile such as bisabolol, chamazulene, apigenin, loteolin have anti-inflammatory properties (this is why its so helpful for soothing piercing problems!)
Anti microbial effect –Chamomile contains compounds including Chamazulene, Alpha-bisabolol, umbeliferone and flavonoids that nave natural antifungal properties. However chamomile also has also been shown to inhibit the growth of the herpes virus and poliovirus and block the aggregation of most strains of E-Coli and other nasties that cause food poisoning such as Helicobacter. Chamomile has also been shown to be effective against bacteria that cause serious skin infection such as Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and Bacillus species. This is wonderful stuff for piercings!
Possible Anti cancer effect – chamomile extracts can inhibit growth on cancer cells in the skin, prostate, breast, ovaries and prostate. Not necessarily useful for our piercings but an interesting study 🙂
Antispasmodic effect – Chamomile contains flavonoids and coumarins which relax muscles. Essentially chamomile can reduce muscle spasms in smooth muscle, and is therefore an effective treatment for diarrhoea and has been shown to be effective at treating colic in children.
Central Nervous System effects – Chemical compounds within chamomile can modulate neurotransmission in the brain and which can help calm people and is especially helpful in the treatment of persons with psychiatric disorders, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.
*All of the above information was obtained from this peer-reviewed scientific journal, check it out!
Srivastava, JK; Shankar, E; Gupta, S (November 2010).
“Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future”. – Molecular medicine reports
How to chamomile compress / soak your piercing:
Obtain some pure chamomile tea bags (make sure there is no real tea or caffeine in the teabags), steep a teabag in boiling water for a few minutes then fish it out and let it cool ever so slightly just to a point where you do not burn yourself, but you still want it to be as hot as you can stand. Wrap it around the piercing and hold it there under gentle compress until the teabag has gone stone cold. Repeat. Do this instead of one of your daily cleans.
If you have a fluid build up, be disciplined with daily chamomile hot compresses and within a few weeks the fluid build-up should have gone. Note it may look worse before it looks better as the fluid starts to drain it may look like a spot – do not pick it else you will increase scarring and delay healing – it will drain of its own accord and the compress will increase the speed in which the fluid will drain.
Its VERY important to mention that the quality and fit of your jewellery is of immense importance to your healing piercing. If you have a bar that is too long, this could be why you have a fluid bump. Contact us for more info about your specific case!
If you have ANY concerns, questions or queries PLEASE get in touch. If you are ever in any doubt in regards to your piercing (regardless of where it was done or what advice you have been given) please pop in and see us! We will always help as much as we can.