Aftercare

Different types of piercings will require slightly different aftercare routines – the information on this page is highly generalised and therefore some piercings will require more in-depth aftercare instructions.
At the time of service, individualised care instructions will be given based on your anatomy, jewellery choice and lifestyle.

If you feel like your piercing isn’t healing appropriately, whether or not it was pierced by myself I'm always happy to help/advise any way I can! - Please do not self/Google diagnose! You can email me at etherealaesthetics@outlook.com with any questions, or visit my Setmore and book in for a troubleshooting session!

What to Expect

Depending on the type of piercing, healing times can vary significantly from person to person and can be influenced by a wide range of factors such as placement, jewellery, movement and your overall health.

While a nose or lip piercing can take in the region of a few months to heal, cartilage and surface piercings can sometimes take anywhere from six months to over a year to heal fully!

It is common for piercings to settle and flare up over the healing period until they are fully healed, though wearing high quality and well fitting jewellery will help with keeping healing times to a minimum.

  • The piercing area will be red, swollen, tender, puffy and in some cases slightly bruised – this could last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the piercing and the person.
  • Swelling can present seconds after the piercing has been performed, or may not appear for a few days. The swelling will usually come up gradually over a period of a few weeks and will then begin to subside. Once it has dissipated, it’s recommended to downsize your initial jewellery (swapping the post for a shorter one, not cutting your jewellery) to avoid the jewellery migrating (moving from it's original position) or causing irritation.
  • Staying hydrated (drinking water) can help to combat swelling.
  • Occasional bleeding & secretion of sticky clear/white/pale yellow fluid (lymph) is also normal throughout the healing process – this will form a crust once dried which is usually mistaken for infection, but is completely natural and shouldn't be picked off as it is protecting the healing wound.
  • Minimal touching/trauma to the area will help to minimise swelling – only ever touch your piercing with clean hands, when cleaning or checking your jewellery attachments.
  • Remember to rinse your piercing if it comes into contact with potential irritants such as soaps/shampoo/hair spray/perfumes.

Cleaning Your Piercing

A healthy body is more than capable of healing a piercing wound unaided and unfortunately there is no magic potion that will speed up this biological process.

Because of the presence of jewellery in your piercing, it does need a hand getting rid of the “crusties” and other potential irritants from the entry/exit site that can build up around and underneath your exposed jewellery.
While the majority of these will drop off naturally in their own time, there are things you can do to help things along gently.

Saline Soaks/Irrigation 

  • Open a fresh sterile gauze packet.
  • Spray Stericlens/Neilmed/Sterile Saline Solution onto the gauze.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and always ensure your hands are clean before touching your piercing!
  • Before cleaning your piercing and while your hands are clean, check that your jewellery attachment is secure.
  • Take out a piece of saline soaked gauze and wrap it around the piercing area.
    (For nostril piercings, just soak from the outside.)
  • Apply slight pressure for 2-3 minutes, then gently remove.
  • Dry the area thoroughly using a handheld fan or a hairdryer on the coolest setting.
  • Clean your piercing as required, up to twice a day but no more.

    For areas that may be trickier to soak (e.g. tragus or forward helix piercings) or if this is more comfortable for you;
  • Open a fresh sterile gauze packet.
  • Wash hands thoroughly.
  • Take a piece of gauze and hold it behind the piercing area to catch any stray saline solution.
  • Hold the nozzle of the saline a few centimetres from the piercing site and give the area a short spritz.
  • Repeat for the back/inside of the piercing.
  • Hold the gauze over the area with slight pressure for a few minutes, then gently remove.
  • Dry the area thoroughly using a handheld fan or a hairdryer on the coolest setting.
  • Clean your piercing as required, up to twice a day but no more.

The idea is to soften up and of the “crusties” that are ready to come away and these may be stuck to the gauze when you take it away from the piercing site.

If anything is being stubborn – DON’T PICK! A scab/crusting is protecting the healing wound from infection – picking risks the chance of tearing your piercing fistula, resulting in excessive swelling and delayed healing.

If a piece of crusting is being particularly stubborn, leave it be and Rae can safely remove it for you at one of your check up appointments!

Remember to always keep your jewellery in, to move it as little as possible and to regularly check the attachments are secure!

Earlobe, Nostril & Facial Piercings: Up to twice a day for at least 6 weeks.
Cartilage, Surface & Body Piercings: Up to twice a day for at least 8-12 weeks.
Or, until your piercing stops being “crusty”.

After this period, it’s good practice to rinse your piercings whilst showering and to dry them afterwards – this keeps them residue/debris free and promotes longevity.

A baby's soft bristled toothbrush is great for gently removing debris from your attachments without damaging them.

Say No to Salt Water!

While it is possible and still recommended by some body piercers to mix up your own sea salt solution, I do not recommend that you do so.

You should only ever clean your piercing with 0.9% Sterile Saline Solution such as Neilmed, which is affordable and readily available to buy through sites such as Amazon or your local reputable piercer.

It is extremely difficult to hit the right level of sterility when mixing up a sea salt solution - a mixture that is too harsh can cause an adverse reaction, contributing to excess swelling, delayed healing times and can even cause your piercing to reject!
On the flip side, if the mixture is too weak it will not be cleaning the piercing properly, which can lead to infection.

Avoid using kitchen roll or cotton wool buds to clean your piercing – these have fibres which can easily snag or get caught in your piercing, plus are already pre-contaminated which presents the risk of infection.
Non woven sterile gauze packets are easy to source and use, usually coming in two ply meaning they're great for pairs of piercings!

What Not to Use

  • Home made salt water solutions should be avoided! 
  • DO NOT use Antiseptic preparations such as Savlon cream or spray, TCP, Hydrogen Peroxide, Lavender oil, Tea tree oil, Dettol, Surgical Spirit etc. –  These are very harsh and will cause irritation and delay healing.
    While natural oils can be beneficial for skin treatment they are not intended to be used on open wounds, will cause an adverse reaction and excessive swelling. The only oil recommended for use on healed piercings and to aid with scar reduction is Vitamin E oil (Bio Oil.)
  • DO NOT use contact lens solution or similar to clean your piercing – these contain preservatives and chemicals not suitable for the skin or intended to be put into open wounds.
  • DO NOT use any bottled re seal-able piercing solutions like those from Claire’s 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 (i.e an aerosol) – 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 Stericlens or Neilmed.

What to Avoid 

  • Touching your piercing with unwashed hands – fiddling with dirty fingers causes infection!
  • Twisting/turning, moving or removing your jewellery – movement causes trauma. It is recommended to wear jewellery in a piercing for a minimum of twelve months before leaving it out for periods of time – get in touch if you need help sourcing a retainer for an interview/operation etc.
  • Submerging your piercing in unhygienic bodies of water such as lakes, pools, hot tubs, etc. Or, protect your piercing using a waterproof wound-sealant bandage. These are available at most pharmacies. This is recommended for at least the first 8 weeks after being pierced.
  • Never sleep with wet hair – moisture is an irritant and can cause complications and delays in healing.
  • Try your best not to sleep on your piercing – the extra pressure will cause excess swelling, make you more susceptible to irritation lumps and can cause your jewellery to migrate (move) from it’s original position.
    A travel pillow is a great way to sleep comfortably while avoiding putting pressure on your piercing
  • The use of sun beds for a minimum of two weeks – ensure to cover your piercing with a breathable plaster during sessions after this period, rinsing with fresh water/saline and drying once finished.
    As you’re probably aware UV rays are extremely strong which can cause excess swelling and added tenderness. 
  • Don’t over clean! Though you may be eager to look after your new piercing as best you can, un-needed extra trauma to the area will extend your piercing’s healing time! Stick to a maximum of two cleans a day and ensure to dry your piercing any time it’s been wet, including after showers/bathing!
  • All oral contact, rough play, and contact with others’ bodily fluids on or near your piercing during healing.
  • Avoid stress and recreational drug use, including excessive caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
  • Avoid all beauty and personal care products on or around the piercing including cosmetics, lotions, and sprays, etc.
  • Don’t hang charms or any object from your jewellery until the piercing is fully healed.

Hints & Tips

Ear Piercings:

  • Be gentle! Ears are very sensitive to knocks, temperature changes & environmental stress, causing intermittent swelling & soreness.
  • Avoid touching your piercing at all unless you’re cleaning it or checking the tightness of your attachment.
  • NO TWISTING! NO TURNING! NO FIDDLING! NO REMOVING THE JEWELLERY! FIDDLING WITH DIRTY FINGERS CAUSES INFECTION!
  • Piercings can sometimes form irritation lumps caused by insufficient blood flow to the area, jewellery irritation or un-needed trauma e.g. fiddling.
  • Cartilage piercings can take a minimum of 6 months or longer to heal fully, though it is usually safe to downsize your jewellery around 4-6 week mark, depending on the person. Some piercings may require more than one downsize over the course of their healing period, or may even require an up-size in the event of a snag or knock.
  • Ear lobe piercings can typically take around 3-6 months to heal with downsizing usually taking place around 2-4 weeks.
  • It is completely normal for piercings to flare up occasionally over their healing period. If this happens to your piercing, return to cleaning twice a day with your chosen saline solution or perform hot chamomile compresses until the soreness and swelling subsides.
  • Use the t-shirt trick: Dress your pillow in a large, clean t-shirt and turn it nightly; one clean t-shirt provides four clean surfaces for sleeping.
  • Maintain cleanliness of bedding, telephones, headphones, eyeglasses, helmets, hats, and anything that contacts the pierced area and avoid the use of these items where possible to minimise trauma to the area.
  • Use caution when styling your hair and advise your stylist of a new or healing piercing.
  • Rinse your piercing after using cosmetic items such as hairspray, perfumes/body sprays to avoid residue build up.
  • The use of headphone buds should be completely avoided with inner ear piercings like Daith and Tragus to minimise the potential risk of extra trauma to the area. Headphones are also a breeding ground for bacteria, which poses the risk of infection.

Facial, Body & Surface Piercings:

  • Avoid wearing clothes that may rest on, rub or catch your piercing as this will delay healing and encourage migration. This includes high waisted garments, tights and lacy items.
  • Avoid using substances like make up, lotions, perfumes, body sprays or fake tan around the piercing area for a minimum of 3 months to avoid product/residue build up and infection. 
  • A hard, vented eye patch (sold at pharmacies) can be applied under tight clothing (such as tights or leggings) or secured using a length of bandage around the body (to avoid irritation from adhesive). This can protect the area from restrictive clothing, excess irritation, and impact during physical activities such as contact sports.
  • AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth) nipple piercings require around 1mm breathing room each side, between the nipple and attachments. This is to allow for any natural swelling or discharge which can occur around times the immune system is low or if the wearer is on their period.
  • Navel piercings are especially susceptible to irritation lumps as they are in an area that has a lot of movement and is prone to sweat. While it is advisable to cover your piercing if you are exercising, you must remember to thoroughly rinse and dry your piercing afterwards to remove any sweat build up, which can cause irritation.
  • Nostril piercings can take a minimum of 6 months to heal, so it is advisable to wait a minimum of this long before fitting a ring.
    It is usually safe to downsize jewellery between 2 and 6 weeks, depending on the person.
  • Navel, surface and nipple piercings can take anywhere in the region of 12 months to heal fully and downsizing usually occurs around the 3 month mark.

Oral Piercings:

  • Refrain from eating hot, spicy, salty or citrus foods for the first few days and avoid caffeine – these will irritate your piercing, prolonging healing and swelling.
  • Stick to soft foods to begin with to minimise catching your jewellery, minimising any excess trauma to the area.
  • Ice cream, ice lollies, ice cubes and freezing cold drinks will all help to reduce your swelling and to ease any soreness.
  • Avoid alcohol for at least the first few days (weeks with cheek piercings) as it WILL make your piercing swell like a balloon. Alcohol also thins our blood, meaning if knocked your piercing will bleed profusely and be difficult to stem, which can be dangerous.
  • If you smoke/vape avoid this for at least the first few hours after being pierced and try to cut down as much as possible over your healing period.
  • Rinse your piercing with bottled/distilled water after eating/drinking/smoking to ensure there isn’t anything gathered/trapped in the piercing which can delay your healing or cause excess swelling. You can also use a new soft bristled tooth brush to softly remove any debris.
  • When brushing your teeth, take extra care and rinse with diluted alcohol free mouthwash.
  • Clean the external area (lip and cheek piercings) up to twice a day with your chosen sterile saline solution.
  • It is completely normal for cheek piercings to secrete a lot during the healing process – do not pick or over clean to ensure bacteria doesn’t enter.
  • Staying hydrated (drinking lots of water) will help to combat and ease any swelling.
  • Lip piercings can usually be downsized within the first two weeks, but can take 6 months or longer to heal fully.  
  • Cheek piercings can take anywhere up to 12 months, sometimes longer to heal and require regular check up and downsizes. They have been found to be quite temperamental and tricky to heal, so for this reason cheek piercings are by appointment only, pending an in depth consultation and have an age restriction of 18 years old. 

Intimate Piercings:

  • Genital Piercings – especially Prince Alberts, Ampallangs, and Apadravyas—can bleed freely for the first few days. Be prepared.
  • Urinate after using soap to clean any piercing that is near the urethra.
  • Wash your hands before touching on (or near) a healing piercing.
  • In most cases you can engage in sexual activity as soon as you feel ready, but maintaining hygiene and avoiding trauma are vital; all sexual activities should be gentle during the healing period. Listen to your body – if something hurts, stop.
  • Use barriers such as condoms, dental dams, and waterproof bandages, etc. to avoid contact with your partners’ body fluids, even in monogamous relationships.
  • Use clean, disposable barriers on sex toys.
  • Use a new container of water-based lubricant; do not use saliva.
  • After sex, an additional saline soak or clean water rinse is suggested.

If you need advice regarding a healing piercing, whether it was pierced at Ethereal Aesthetics or not, please get in touch - etherealaesthetics@outlook.com.

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