Is it Dangerous?
A piercing is an invasive action, which requires knowledge, skills and experience to perform. If you’ve carefully read the article: “How do I Pick a Piercer?”, and followed the advice – you’ve got nothing to worry about, but if you haven’t – you have to consider the risks you’re exposing yourselves to. An unprofessional piercer might transmit different types of bacteria and germs into your body, or cause irreversible damage to one of your body parts! If you love your body – don’t mess with it, and only put it under professional hands of a professional piercer!!
If you’ve chosen a professional piercer and took good care of your piercing – you can remain calm. The piercing will have no problem to heal.
So far we’ve talked about what happens before and during the piercing. Now let’s talk about what happens the moment you step out of the studio with your new piercing. Your piercer gave you care instructions (if you were so excited that you can’t remember, you can find them here, in the article: “Care Instructions”). These instructions are not recommendations, they are instructions!
A piercing is essentially a wound, and a wound that isn’t treated – might get infected.
If you don’t treat the piercing correctly, you might cause serious problems that might result in you having to take the piercing out. The length of the healing period is an individual issue, and also varies by the type of piercing you’ve got. There are people with stronger bodies, there are types of piercings that will be less traumatizing for the body or that have been done in a less sensitive area, but everybody must treat their piercings following the care instructions!
Do not remove the bandage too soon! If the piercer put a bandage on your piercing – it seems that there is a purpose for it: the body sometimes needs time (again, it depends on your individual body strength, and the type of piercing you did) to seal up the openings that we opened in your skin. Till then, the bandage keeps bacteria from the air and from your clothing from entering your body. So, don’t take off the bandage even for a second (“…just to show someone…”)! Apart from that, sometimes the piercing slightly bleeds in the beginning, and the second purpose for the bandage is to absorb this bleeding.
Make sure you disinfect the piercing! Your body isn’t always strong enough to fight off the amount of bacteria that tried to enter it though the piercings we make. You will have to help it. Without your help, the bacteria will manage to multiply in the area, and will cause an infection.
Make sure you clean the piercing with the salt-water (or with mouthwash, if you got an oral piercing), and don’t use products that might be poisonous, such as alcohol or peroxide. The yellow secretions from the piercing are a mixture of decomposed tissue, dead white blood cells and bacteria, and they are perfectly normal. Gently clean the secretions, until the area is completely clean. If the secretions have hardened, gently dissolve them with the use of an ear-bud soaked in salt water, and clean them away. Never scratch the clotted secretions with your fingernails or anything else! Make sure you don’t move the piercing as you clean.
If water penetrates the piercing (excluding an oral piercing), it might, in time, form a bacteria and fungi breeding surface. So, disinfect with salt water immediately after taking a shower or bathing in the sea. Salt naturally absorbs liquids, and helps drying the area.
By the way, there’s no need to make a new salt water solution every time you clean the piercing, it doesn’t spoil. Just keep the solution in a closed container, so that it keeps clean. Before the cleaning – mix the solution, because the salt sinks to the bottom of the container.
(The next two segments do not address the oral piercing)
It’s recommended to apply a little bit of antiseptic balm (not antibiotic!), once or twice a day. The balm is made of different substances that help prevent infections. Don’t apply a large amount of the balm, it might interfere with the oxygen supply to the piercing, and attract dust or dirt.
You should rinse the piercing once a day with antiseptic liquid-soap. The soap will penetrate into the piercing and disinfect it on the inside. Immediately after, rinse in clean water.
Keep the piercing clean! The piercing and the surrounding area must be kept clean at all times. If you touch it with your hands (or with something else) you will transmit dirt and bacteria onto it.
For disinfection and the application of the antiseptic balm, only use a clean ear bud.
Change cloths frequently, especially in the summer, when you sweat a lot.
Don’t let the piercing come in contact with any other substances other than the disinfectants I have mentioned, soap and water. And in any case, don’t use body lotion, make-up and such.
If you’ve got an oral piercing, it is advised to rinse with mouthwash after every meal, or cigarette.
You mustn’t, under any circumstance, go into a public swimming pool or into a sea shore that has been declared polluted. These places are full of various kinds of bacteria, which might cause infections. Chloride in swimming pools, also doesn’t agree with piercings.
Do not move the piercing! At any given moment, except the moment right after the disinfection, the piercing contains germs. They’re in the air and easily settle on the piercing. If you move it – you help them penetrate inside and cause an infection!
In addition, because of the hardened secretions, the piercing is “glued” to its place. If you move it – you’ll tare the skin surrounding the piercing, and cause an incorrect skin restructure (“keloid”). And anyway, during the healing period the body forms a kind of a tunnel which the piercing goes through. When you move the piercing, you injure that tunnel – forcing the body to start rebuilding it. So, best case scenario, you significantly prolong the healing period. In the worst – you will cause, as I’ve said, the formation of a keloid, because of which, many times, you will have no choice but to say goodbye to the piercing.
If you take the piercing out before it has fully healed, you’ll find out after a few seconds (immediately, if it’s the first few days) that the hole has started to seal.
If you try forcing the piercing back in, you’ll end up hurting yourselves more and more until you give up…
In an oral or lip piercing, be very careful not to bite the piercing. The teeth will cut grooves into it, which will wound the piercing and cause it to heal badly.
Never pull on a piercing, or hang objects on it, leave it alone, at least until it’s completely healed. Certain types of piercings such as the Smiley, Underground and Princessa, are attached onto very thin skin, and might simply get ripped out!! Unpleasant…
Do not replace the piercing! The piercing which the piercer gave you right after puncturing you is sterilized and made of quality materials (details in the article: “What Types of Jewelry Are There?”). Don’t replace the piercing before it has completely healed. A low-quality piercing or one that isn’t in a suitable shape, might cause problems such as allergies, or rejection. If you want to change the piercing into a new one anyway – drop by the studio and ask for a piercing which is in the same quality of your old one, at least.
Do not consume drugs or alcohol! Any use of these substances, especially in the first few days after getting the piercing, reduces your body’s natural healing efficiency! With the oral piercing, in addition to that, drinking alcohol in high percentage or smoking drugs, will cause toxic substances to penetrate the piercing.
In time, the secretions will appear less and less until they disappear completely. Only then, if the spot isn’t red, swollen, or hurting – you’ll know that the piercing has completely healed, and you can stop treating it.
Phenomenon that demand attention
if it hurts a little, a little red, a little swollen (with piercings in the lip, cheek, and tongue, even if it’s very swollen), and maybe even bleeds a little in the first few days – as long as it’s “a little”, it’s a normal condition. After all, a piercing is a wound. We’ve caused our body some sort of trauma, and it takes time to recover. Sometimes, especially with the eyebrow piercing, the area will turn blue. Normal…
But if you’re in a lot of pain (and simple pain killers didn’t help), the area is very red and very swollen (and ice didn’t help), or if you’re severely bleeding – immediately refer to your piercer. Don’t panic, in most cases (assuming that your piercer is professional enough, and that you’re treating the piercing right), these phenomenon, will only indicate that your body is a little bit more sensitive than other’s, or has a harder time accepting the piercing. But just to be on the safe side…
If you’re sensing a slight swelling of the lymph glands, that are located mainly in the neck, armpit and groin, (in the area closest to the piercing) – there’s nothing to worry about. These glands produce antibodies that will help preventing a possible infection. If they are very swollen – that might be the first sign of an infection, and you must refer a.s.a.p. to your piercer, who will probably refer you to a doctor.
If the area hurts, if it turns red, scratches, or is swollen for a long period – it might mean that you are allergic to the certain metal the piercing is made of, and you must refer to your piercer to get it replaced with a piercing made of a high quality metal (details in the article: “What Types of Piercings Are There?”).
If you notice a growth of a small glands near one of the piercing’s entry points, don’t wait for it to grow, even though this is not a dangerous situation, and in many cases simply goes away by itself, it is recommended to treat it. This is a common phenomenon, mostly with dark-skinned people, and it is called “keloid”, as I said before. In most cases it is caused simply as a result of moving the piercing. The friction of the piercing on the wounded skin causes the skin to be rebuilt incorrectly. Refer to a skin doctor. He will prescribe you an antibiotic balm, to replace the antiseptic one you’re already using. If you waited too long, and the keloid has grown significantly, or changed its color from red to white – it is most likely that the doctor will determine that the balm is insufficient, and take other measures such as freezing the keloid or injecting it. In such a case, you’ll have to take the piercing out.
Another common phenomenon is the rejection of the piercing by the body. This is more common with eyebrow, nipple, and navel piercings, and is very rare in other types of piercing (of the commonly pierced organs, of course. For further details refer to the article: “What Parts of the Body Can I Pierce?”). Usually it is caused as a result of an unprofessional piercing, or mistreatment. In a certain percent of the population these phenomenon may occur even without the two preconditions I’ve just mentioned, and the only explanation for that is a little absurd: it turns out that the bodies of this certain percent of the population, is a slightly stronger than the average, it has recognized the piercing as a foreign object, and has rejected it out.
If you’ve noticed the beginning of such a rejection, and every day, the piercing appears to be hanging on less and less skin – don’t delay. If you ignore the rejection, the piercing will get closer and closer to the edge, until eventually it loses its grip and drops. In such a case, you’ll remain with an ugly scar. It is best to simply accept it, and take off the piercing in time. Wait a while, and get a new piercing.
If your body has rejected the piercing a second time – there’s nothing you can do. It appears that you belong in that certain percent, the one with the stronger body… Don’t try again. This specific piercing is not for you. By the way, if your body has rejected a certain type of piercing – it won’t necessarily reject a different type. Further more, if for example, the piercing in your right eyebrow was rejected – next time try the left.
It might work there, it’s worth the try. Don’t give up too fast…
Important comment: misinformed people often confuse inflammation with infection. So here are the differences: an inflammation is a normal reaction of the body to any injury. The area becomes red, swollen, sensitive and slightly warm. This is a normal phenomenon, which poses no danger. An infection is caused as a result of a reproduction of germs that penetrated the body through the piercing. If, god forbid, you’ll get one – you’ll know. This phenomenon can be dangerous, and must be treated with antibiotics by a doctor.
Very important: in none of the problems I’ve mentioned, except rejection, do not remove the piercing unless instructed to do so by the piercer! This might be your natural reaction, to get rid of the source of the problem… This might even be recommended by some doctors, but with all due respect – from my professional experience (with client’s piercings), and from my personal experience (with my own piercings), taking the piercing out, in most cases, doesn’t solve the problem, and sometimes might makes it worse! In case of an infection, for example, if you take the piercing out – the holes will seal, and the infection will remain inside, making it difficult for the body to deal with…
[And a few more words about doctors. I’m very fond of them, but for some reason, which isn’t clear to me, some of them are really “anti” everything that has to do with tattoos and piercing. If you’ve got an eyebrow piercing, they might find it to be the cause of your stomach aches! (Don’t laugh, I’ve heard such stories) So, with all due respect, let your piercer make the initial observations. Only in the most extreme cases, he’ll have no other option, but to refer you to a doctor, but a nice one…]
As I’ve said, unfortunately there are many people, doctors amongst them, who are not so hot on the new fashion called “body-piercing”. In a desperate attempt to prevent you from distributing it throughout our conservative country, they’ve invented all kinds of ridiculous myths that might scare you. Here are a few:
After you get a tongue piercing, you can’t eat –
False! It might hurt a little during the first few days, if you try eating a steak, but with softer food, there’s no problem. Furthermore, you must eat regularly (or almost regularly), so that your body will have enough energy to heal the piercing.
After you get a tongue piercing, you can’t speak –
Imprecise! A very small percentage of people that get a tongue piercing (usually people with an especially short tongue) have difficulties pronouncing lingual consonants such as Z, S, Ts, or Sh. The great majority manage to speak normally.
A lip piercing causes gum withdrawal –
Imprecise! If you don’t have a tendency of gum withdrawal, the piercing won’t cause it. A pierced lip with a labret (instead of a hoop) might rub the gums, and worsen a gum withdrawal that is already there, no more.
If you’ve got a pierced nipple, you won’t be able to breastfeed –
False! Inside your nipple, there are dozens of milk tubes. The piercing will only damage a few of them, the rest will perform normally, when the day comes. Then, replace the piercing with one that is easily opened (such as a barbell or a horseshoe), take it out, breastfeed and insert back in.
An ear-piercing would hurt your sense of balance –
False! What does it have to do with it anyway? The organ that controls your balance is located in the inner ear deep inside. We pierce the outer ear, and never even go near it.
A piercing in the navel will hurt the umbilical-cord of your fetus, when you get pregnant –
To that one I’m not even going to respond…