Is it a keloid? A pressure bump? Infection? Is it rejected? Bacteria build up? All part of the healing process?
Well, it’s not Superman that’s for sure.
The piercing process is quick but the healing process can be time consuming. There is alot to consider. The body piercing itself is foreign matter to your body's natural state and at times the body can take time assessing the new piercing and sometimes the body can do weird things to learn how to adjust.
But first things first, if you have any concerns, questions or difficulties with your fresh new piercing it is recommended that you organise a meeting with your piercer to get their advice. If you are attending a reputable t piercing studio f, they should be able to offer you some insight to what your body is doing and what you can do to aid this process. Always remember that a piercer is not a doctor, while their expertise lies in this field they are not a medical practitioner. . They can reassure that what is going on is normal and advise you on your next steps that may include going to the doctor/hospital.
A fresh piercing is going to do a few things while in the first couple weeks of the healing process. Be prepared to have some symptoms that include but are not limited to crusties, tiny amounts of blood, weeping, swelling, redness and tenderness.
Everybody's body will be different.. What you do need to remember, these symptoms might not show or will go away completely in the coming weeks, but it does not mean your piercing is healed. The estimated healing time can be affected by the person's own personal health, routines, lifestyle or type of piercing you have received. The aftercare advice will be slightly different from person to person however .
Please see here the basic aftercare steps for a general piercing- Please note this is subject to change depending on the piercing in questions:
How to Take Care of a New Piercing
- Don't touch your new piercing unless you have washed your hands well first. That goes for other people touching the piercing too.
- Don't use alcohol-based cleaning solutions. They will slow healing and may cause skin irritation.
- Don't share jewellery with friends, even in healed sites.
- Don't insert non-sterile jewellery or jewellery made of metals other than those recommended by the operator.
- Don't allow the body fluids of others to come into contact with your piercing until the site is completely healed.
- Do avoid swimming until the piercing is healed, contaminated water is likely to pose a risk of infection.
- Do avoid having sex for at least a week after a genital piercing; check with your body artist as some genital piercings take longer to heal.
- Do see a doctor at the first signs of infection; don't wait until pus forms or jewellery can't be removed.
- Do be aware that you may experience tissue rejection which means the piercing site may swell, the skin colour changes and the area becomes itchy. This is different from infection where there is pus and usually pain.
Cleaning Instructions for Body Piercings
WASH your hands thoroughly prior to cleaning or touching your piercing for any reason.
SALINE soak for five to ten minutes once or more a day. Invert a cup of warm saline solution over the area to form a vacuum. For certain piercings it may be easier to apply using clean gauze or paper towels saturated with saline solution. A brief rinse afterward will remove any residue.
SOAP no more than once or twice a day. While showering, lather up a pearl size drop of the soap to clean the jewellery and the piercing. Leave the cleanser on the piercing no more than thirty seconds.
RINSE thoroughly to remove all traces of the soap from the piercing. It is not necessary to rotate the jewellery through the piercing.
DRY by gently patting with clean disposable paper products. Cloth towels can harbour bacteria and snag on jewellery, causing injury.
AFTERCARE PRODUCT apply aftercare with a cotton tip twice a day and move the jewellery back and forth to let the product enter the wound. If the product being used isn’t working, change completely to another (don’t use more than one at a time).
DO NOT OVER CLEAN THE PIERCING AS THIS WILL SLOW DOWN THE HEALING PROCESS
In addition, it is important to pay attention to downsizing times. As much as a longer bar will be annoying and has the potential to get caught on things. The longer bar is used for a reason. When a new piercing is done, it's common for the surrounding tissue to swell as part of the body's natural healing response. To account for this swelling, piercers often use slightly longer jewellery initially. This extra length allows room for the swelling without putting excessive pressure on the piercing, which could lead to complications such as irritation, discomfort, or even rejection of the jewellery.
As the piercing heals and the swelling reduces, the initial jewellery can be replaced with a shorter, more snug-fitting piece. It's crucial to follow the aftercare instructions provided by the piercer and not to change the jewellery prematurely to ensure proper healing and minimise the risk of complications.. . The potential swelling can cause any shorter jewellery to be embedded in the skin that would cause a lot of discomfort and the potential for a trip to the hospital.
Bumps and lumps can occur after a fresh piercing as the body's natural reaction to the foreign object.
Some potentials that could occur during healing are:
Keloid scarring is a type of raised scar that extends beyond the boundaries of the original wound. While it's not exclusive to body piercings, individuals with a predisposition to keloid formation may experience keloid scarring after getting a piercing. Keloids can be more common in certain areas of the body, such as the earlobes.
Hypertrophic scars occur when the body overproduces collagen, which causes the scar to be raised above the surrounding skin. Hypertrophic scars take the form of a red raised lump on the skin. Theyusually occur within 4 to 8 weeks following wound infection or wound closure with excess tension and/or other traumatic skin injuries- piercings fall into this category.
Treatment options for this: Chamomile Salt Soak
Salt soaks are a great way for healing any form of skin condition. However, the addition of chamomile tea soothes and calms the affected area further, which can greatly reduce scar.
- Boil some water and pour it into a mug
- Add 1/4tsp to the mug (leave some room at the top)
- Ensure all the salt’s dissolved
Add the tea-bag of chamomile and allow to brew for 5 minutes
Make sure that the water’s hot as you can stand, but notboiling as this can be very harmful
Using a soaked cotton pad, hold and press hard on the bump,avoiding knocking the jewellery
- Do this twice a day for 5 minutes, or more if you want
Pointers: Make sure you use chamomile tea with no added extras! If you have a ragweed allergy, avoid this method! The compression and soothing nature of this method should help the bump break down and go.
This is the most common and one of the most effective methods.
Even after your body has settled down and has accepted the body piercing you should always have a check in with it. Changing the jewellery to some fun pieces with dangleys, chains and shiny things that are generally made from a low grade metal might not agree with your body like a nice titanium bar does.These items have the potential to change your skin green colour as it tarnishes. That’s a normal occurrence but if you don’t want to rock the ogre look, it might be time to switch to a high quality metal.
When it comes to low grade metal jewellery they contain harming alloys, such as too much nickel or carbon. In the world 12% - 15% of women are allergic to nickel and 1% - 2% of men, this doesn’t even record people that don’t know.
Having a nickel allergy can be really subtle as well. It may show up as discolouration and a bit of irritation or become a nice patch of dermatitis. So even if titanium might be a little bit more expensive, play it safe for your first piercings or until you are certain that steel isn’t going to be a problem. And if you do have any problems with your jewellery, go back to your piercer and ask if they can switch it out for a higher quality metal.
When it comes to oral piercings, you can sometimes get what's called a ‘bacteria ring’.. Commonly seen on tongues as the area can have a colour difference and patterned whiteness mainly because they show up on the inside of your mouth Oral piercings are. If that ring is there when you go to get a downsize, your piercer might suggest not changing it as it can encourage the spread of the bad bacteria causing potential additional swelling.
While healing an oral piercing many body piercers will recommend using a non alcoholic mouthwash - as this is one of the most effective ways to remove bacteria from the mouth. However please note that if you have received an oral piercing and you are using mouthwash regularly throughout the day that you MUST dilute it- the strength of your average mouthwash is strong enough for one to two times a day- any more than that will begin to break down the good bacteria in your mouth as well causing an abundance of unnecessary issues. Dilute with water to avoid this.
In conclusion, the healing process of a body piercing is a delicate and individual journey that requires patience, proper care, and attention to detail. From the moment the piercing is done, the body starts its natural healing mechanisms. Following the aftercare instructions provided by your professional piercer is key, as it ensures cleanliness, reduces the risk of infection, and promotes best healing.
Remember, healing times can vary based on the type of piercing and individual factors, so maintaining a positive and patient mindset while waiting. With proper care, your body piercing can evolve from an initial adornment to a beautifully healed expression of individuality.
- Eliza Catford