Cleaning Solutions – Packaged sterile saline (with no additives, read the label) is a gentle choice for piercing aftercare. If sterile saline is not available in your region a sea salt solution mixture can be a viable alternative. Dissolve 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon (.75 to 1.42 grams) of non-iodized (iodine-free) sea salt into one cup (8 oz / 250 ml) of warm distilled or bottled water. A stronger mixture is not better; a saline solution that is too strong can irritate the piercing.
What is Normal? Initially: some bleeding, localized swelling, tenderness, or bruising.
– During healing: some discoloration, itching, secretion of a whitish-yellow fluid (not pus) that will form some crust on the jewelry. The tissue may tighten around the jewelry as it heals.
– Once healed: the jewelry may not move freely in the piercing; do not force it. If you fail to include cleaning your piercing as part of your daily hygiene routine, normal but smelly bodily secretions may accumulate.
– Even healed piercings can shrink or close in minutes after having been there for years! This varies from person to person; if you like your piercing, keep jewelry in—do not leave it empty.
What To Do
– Wash your hands prior to touching the piercing; leave it alone except when cleaning. During healing, it is not necessary to rotate your jewelry.
– Stay healthy; the healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal. Get enough sleep and eat a nutritious diet. Exercise during healing is fine; listen to your body. Drink plenty of water, take your vitamins and eat healthy food, it really helps!
– Make sure your bedding is washed and changed regularly. Wear clean, comfortable, breathable clothing that protects your piercing while you are sleeping.
– Showers tend to be safer than taking baths, as bathtubs can harbor bacteria. If you bathe in a tub, clean it well before each use and rinse off your piercing when you get out.
What to Avoid
For Particular Areas
• A hard, vented eye patch (sold at pharmacies) can be applied under tight clothing (such as nylon stockings) or secured using a length of Ace® 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.
Ear/Ear Cartilage and Facial:
• 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 telephones, headphones, eyeglasses, helmets, hats, and anything that contacts the pierced area.
• Use caution when styling your hair and advise your stylist of a new or healing piercing.
• The support of a tight cotton shirt or sports bra may provide protection and feel comfortable, especially for sleeping.
Cleaning Instructions for the Exterior of Labret (Cheek & Lip) Piercings
What Is Normal?
For the first three to five days: significant swelling, light bleeding, bruising, and/or tenderness.
After that: Some swelling, light secretion of a whitish yellow fluid (not pus).
A piercing may seem healed before the healing process is complete. This is because they heal from the outside in, and although it feels fine, the tissue remains fragile on the inside. Be patient, and keep cleaning throughout the entire healing period.
Even healed piercings can shrink or close in minutes after having been there for years! This varies from person to person; if you like your piercing, keep jewelry in-do not leave the hole empty.
What To Do To Help Reduce Swelling
Allow small pieces of ice to dissolve in the mouth.
Take an over the counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium according to package instructions.
Don’t speak or move your jewelry more than necessary.
Sleep with your head elevated above your heart during the first few nights.
To Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
Use a new soft-bristled toothbrush and store it in a clean area away from other toothbrushes.
Brush your teeth and use your chosen rinse (saline or mouthwash) after every meal.
During healing floss daily, and gently brush your teeth, tongue and jewelry. Once healed, brush the jewelry more thoroughly to avoid plaque build up.
To Stay Healthy
The healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal.
Get enough sleep and eat a nutritious diet.
– Slowly eat small bites of food.
– Avoid eating spicy, salty, acidic, or hot temperature foods or beverages for a few days.
– Cold foods and beverages are soothing and help reduce swelling.
– Foods like mashed potatoes and oatmeal are hard to eat because they stick to your mouth and jewelry.
– For tongue piercing, try to keep your tongue level in your mouth as you eat because the jewelry can get between your teeth when your tongue turns.
– For labret (cheek and lip) piercings: be cautious about opening your mouth too wide as this can result in the jewelry catching on your teeth.
– Each body is unique and healing times vary considerably. If you have any questions, please contact your piercer.
What To Avoid
– Do not play with your jewelry. Long term effects include permanent damage to teeth, gums, and other oral structures. See the APP’s Brochure: Oral Piercing Risks and Safety Measures for more information.
– Avoid undue trauma; excessive talking or playing with the jewelry during healing can cause the formation of unsightly and uncomfortable scar tissue, migration, and other complications.
– Avoid using mouthwash containing alcohol. It can irritate the piercing and delay healing.
– Avoid oral sexual contact including French (wet) kissing or oral sex during healing (even with a long-term partner).
– Avoid chewing gum, tobacco, fingernails, pencils, sunglasses, etc.
– Avoid sharing plates, cups, and eating utensils.
– Avoid smoking! It increases risks and lengthens healing time.
– Avoid stress and all recreational drug use.
– Avoid aspirin, alcohol, and large amounts of caffeine as long as you are experiencing bleeding or swelling.
– Avoid submerging healing piercings in bodies of water such as lakes, pools, etc.