Piercings – How to Prevent Infection and Other Complications
Piercings are now more popular than ever, but despite their prevalence, they still pose certain risks. Several types of complications are associated with body piercing, such as infections, scarring, allergic reactions, blood borne diseases, tearing, and regret. By learning about the risks, making your decision thoughtfully, selecting a reputable and professionally trained piercer, and caring for a piercing properly, you can help ensure that your piercing will heal well and that you’ll be happy with it for years to come.
The skin surrounding a new piercing can remain tender, red, and swollen for several days. Minor bleeding and bruising can also occur, and the piercing site might feel itchy as it heals. Be sure to ask your piercer what you should expect and how to care for your new piercing. Aftercare is very important, even if your piercer uses sterile instruments and techniques, and even if your jewelry is constructed of high-quality metal. That’s because a piercing is an open wound, and open wounds are always susceptible to bacterial infection.
Your piercer should provide detailed aftercare instructions, which you should follow carefully. In general, to prevent infection and to facilitate healing, you should:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before cleaning or touching your piercing.
- Clean your skin piercing gently with mild soap and water only.
- Try to prevent excessive rubbing, chafing, and friction on the piercing site from clothing, which can irritate your skin and inhibit the healing process.
- If you have a tongue, lip, or cheek piercing, rinse your mouth thoroughly with an antiseptic mouthwash after eating and before going to bed.
- During the healing period, don’t touch your piercing or the jewelry, other than to clean the hole and rotate the jewelry as instructed.
- Don’t remove the jewelry before the piercing is fully healed. Most piercings heal within about six weeks, but some sites can take several months or longer. To maintain the piercing and keep the hole from closing, keep the jewelry in place during the required amount of time.
- Stay out of swimming pools, hot tubs, rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water during the healing period.
- See a physician if you experience pain, or if there is drainage or an unusual odor emanating from the piercing site.
- Even fully healed piercings can shrink or close within minutes after the jewelry is removed. Contact your piercer if you need to temporarily remove the jewelry for a medical procedure or other reason.
If you have a piercing that is not healing properly or appears to be infected, please feel free to contact or visit South Tampa Immediate Care. No appointments are ever necessary to see a doctor at our walk-in clinic, and prompt treatment can help you avoid potentially serious complications.