Nose rings, captive bead belly rings, ear studs – all are common amongst teens and young adults who flaunt their embellished piercings in attempts to look cool and hip. Inspired by the funky jewelry and boastful claims of having a high pain threshold, their peers often follow suit. However, piercings are not hassle-free. They are often followed by infections and complications. Therefore, it is very important to know about the risks involved and how one can better care for the skin after undergoing the process.
Piercing refers to the process of making a puncture or hole in any part of the body, to insert a jewelry item. Other than the fact that it is intentional, it is more or less analogous to a wound and therefore subject to similar complications.
- Allergies- Material of the jewelry worn immediately after the piercing might not suit a person’s skin and hence result in an allergic reaction. Nickel items, for example, are known to be a common cause of such consequences.
- Keloids- Sometimes during the healing phase, the skin develops a scar. This scar may be bigger than the wound itself. Overgrown scar tissues (keloids) may also cause a lump or slight elevation in the skin surrounding the piercing.
- Infections-Pricking the skin with a sharp object is likely to result in infections that may cause swelling, pus, redness, or pain.
- Bloodborne diseases- Use of non-sterilized needles or piercing equipment may cause blood-borne diseases such as Tetanus, HIV, Hepatitis B, and C to be transferred from a previous user to a latter one.
How to take care of your skin after the piercing?
- Regular cleaning with saline water
Piercing or any other wound is subject to an accumulation of secretion or scab around it. Therefore, cleaning it twice every day is a must to avoid infections. However, repeated cleaning may cause scarring and irritation and should therefore be avoided.
The only product that should be used to clean your piercings is saline water. Chemicals present in other cleaning solutions add up to the problem and prolong the healing process.
The recommended cleaning regime is dampening a piece of gauze with saline water and then pressing it against the piercing for about fifteen minutes. This would allow any dried-up scab crusts and other accumulations to soften and come off easily. Some experts also recommend following this with an application of over-the-counter antibiotics or ointments like petroleum jelly to help the wound heal faster.
- Keep the area dry
Moist areas are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria. Therefore, you should keep your piercing dry to prevent it from infection. Also, dry your hair immediately after a shower to eliminate chances of water dripping onto the piercing.
#Tip: If you do not have a blow dryer, you may wrap your hair in a towel. This would prevent water droplets from wet hair to dampen the wound.
- Wash your hands
Since we touch multiple surfaces each day, it is advised to wash our hands properly before touching the piercing. This is because bacteria transferred to our hands from those surfaces may cause an infection in the wound.
- Stay healthy
Whether it is a piercing or any other wound, it is a fact that a healthy body would heal sooner. Therefore, it is essential to take a good diet and a good sleep along with exercising regularly.
- Do not sleep on the pierced area
Sleeping on the pierced area would exert pressure on it. Therefore, it is best to avoid such practice. However, if that’s a habit you find difficult to change, then using one of the doughnut-shaped pillows would be your best bet.
- Do not use makeup and perfumes
As discussed before, unhealed piercings are in fact wounds. Therefore, any direct application of cosmetics, perfumes, or hairsprays on the affected area would not only cause a burning sensation but may result in harmful reactions and skin allergies.
#Tip: If the use of perfume or any other product is unavoidable, cover the pierced skin area before application to prevent it from getting exposed to the chemical ingredients in them.
- Do not touch your piercing or the jewelry within it unnecessarily
Contrary to general belief, rotating your earrings won’t heal your wound faster. We should leave the punctured skin alone unless cleaning the area, to let it develop cells and heal the piercing funnel. Any unnecessary friction may delay recovery. Therefore, it is recommended that even clothing should be kept away from the wound to prevent it from touching the piercing again and again.
- Keep on the jewelry for sufficient time
The average time it takes for a piercing to heal is 6 weeks. However, this may vary from person to person, and also depends on the body part where the puncture is made. Anyway, it is recommended to keep on wearing jewelry throughout the healing phase. Removal may cause the hole to close and your entire effort would go in vain.
Besides aftercare, one must also take into consideration all the safety precautions before getting a piercing. After all, it is better to be safe than sorry. Below are a few of the factors that must be taken into account before making the final decision.
- Whom to get the piercing from?
It is recommended that you go to a well-known piercing studio that has trained staff. Letting any amateur carry out the process is likely to result in complications. Needless to say that self-attempts at piercing should be avoided.
- Which piercing equipment do they use?
For a long time, piercing guns have been commonly used equipment for creating a desired hole in the skin, particularly in the ear. However, in recent times, its use is discouraged by the Association of Professional Piercers because of the reason that it cannot be completely sterilized. It has also been revealed that these guns may harm the ear tissue. Therefore, the recommended method for all types of body piercings today is using a sterile and disposable needle to make the puncture and then immediately slide a jewelry item into it.
- What are the hygiene standards at the studio you are considering?
Considering we have emphasized so much on washing your hands before touching the pierced skin, to prevent it from catching bacteria, you must ensure that the person who would be creating the desired puncture in your skin also washes his/her hands and changes the pair of disposable gloves before performing the job on you.
Furthermore, also ensure that the place you have opted for getting your piercing from sterilizes all the equipment after every use. One way to get this confirmation is to request to see their heat sterilization machine.
Piercings: Yay or nay?
Having discussed the possible, unfavorable consequences along with tips on how to care for your piercings, the question that remains is whether or not one should get a piercing. Interestingly, this is a query that everyone needs to answer for themselves. However, below are few aspects that must be given careful thought before concluding.
- Is your desired piercing location such that you would be able to conceal it in case of swelling or an allergic reaction? If not, would you be okay with the imperfection being visible till it heals?
- Do you want to get a piercing, or are you giving in to peer pressure?
If you doubt that you might not be happy with your decision later, it is best to wait till you are sure about it. It might be helpful to talk to friends who have already got a piercing because they have been through the entire process and will be able to address your concerns based on their experience.