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Prevent infection by keeping your ear, nose, lip, tongue, navel, eyebrow, and other body piercings clean.
When you’re ready to get a piercing, be sure to consult the Association of Professional Piercers for a trained and licensed body artist.
Use jewelry that is less likely to contribute to an infection, like implant-grade surgical steel, surgical titanium, solid gold, and platinum. Many piercers require you to buy the starter jewelry from them to ensure quality control.
Don’t let a technician use a piercing gun on any body part other than your ear lobes. All other areas should be pierced with a sterilized needle.
Touch the piercing as infrequently as possible, and never without washing your hands with antimicrobial soap first.
Saturate the piercing site twice a day for six weeks in sterile saline solution, or one-eighth of a teaspoon of non-iodized sea salt dissolved in one cup of distilled water. Dab with gauze or a cotton ball and gently rinse to remove residue.
For a tongue piercing, swish the solution around your mouth five times a day for about a minute, especially after meals and before bed, and gently brush your tongue and jewelry with a soft toothbrush reserved for this purpose. Avoid French kissing and oral sex until the piercing is healed.
Don’t use hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, antiseptics, ointments, or mouthwash that contains alcohol; they can interfere with healing.
Avoid swimming, hot tubs, and even baths: Chlorine can irritate the piercing, and bacteria thrive in these environments. While showering, apply a little of your regular soap lather to the piercing, and rinse thoroughly. Pat dry with a paper towel, not your bath towel. Keep lotions, sprays, creams, and perfumes away from the piercing. Change your sheets every few days.
A hard, vented eye patch, available at pharmacies, can protect a navel piercing while it heals. Secure it by wrapping a length of elastic bandage around it.
Be on the lookout for signs of infection, like pus, swelling, redness, or pain at the piercing site. Consult a doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
Keep the jewelry in place for as long as the piercer recommends.
Did You Know?
Besides the ear, the most popular piercing among women is the navel, while men opt most often to pierce their nipples.