Piercing Disinfection - Advice

 If your new piercing just got infected, you can treat it at home with a few simple supplies. Your piercing will show some of the following symptoms if it has an infection, including pain, swelling and redness. You must treat it fast to avoid further complications.

A fresh piercing may be swollen and slightly red for a few days. If swelling gets worse or you see an unusual discharge, however, then an infection may be developing. The best way to prevent this from happening is to keep the area clean and free from irritation. Usually cleaning with an unscented antibacterial soap and thoroughly rinsing is sufficient, but a saline solution is also a viable option. Some piercers may actually recommend a combination of both.

What to Use
Use non-iodized, fine-grain sea salt for your soaks. It is superior to regular table salt, which typically contains additives to prevent it from drying or clumping and other components that could be incompatible with wound healing. Do not use coarse kosher salt or rock salt either, because their large crystals do not dissolve readily. Many piercers sell or supply sea salt, so you might be able to obtain it at the studio when you go in for your piercing. Otherwise, look in the spice section, near the table salt, or in the natural foods aisle of your regular grocery store. It is routinely available in health food stores, or you can order it over the Internet from piercing supply vendors or food and spice websites. Natural sea salt is superior because it usually contains trace elements that are beneficial for health and healing.

The best saline solution is called "Normal Saline" and is used in medicine as an intravenous infusion and for cleaning wounds. It is isotonic (it matches the saline concentration of human blood), which is what the sea salt and water recipe is intended to emulate. Normal saline is widely used in the medical field. It is a mild but effective cleaning agent and will not harm normal tissue, unlike many stronger antiseptics. This product is sold in drug stores and can be warmed for soaks. The saline products sold for contact lenses and ear or nasal irrigation sometimes contain additives that may not be suited to healing piercings. To be safe, a prepared saline solution should be used only if the label confirms that the container holds “iso- tonic saline,” or 0.9 percent sterile saline without additives (meaning that it is, in fact, normal saline).

It's strange that most piercing enthusiasts make their own "sea salt soak", and most of them get it wrong and seriously slow down the healing process. The Normal Saline Solutions are isotonic. Isotonic solutions have equal osmotic pressure to the interior of your body cells, and that is hugely important for healing.

What Not to Do
Avoid the use of alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. These products can cause cell damage.

Avoid cleaning the area with a scented soap because such soaps may cause irritation.

Avoid adding more than the prescribed amount of salt to your saline rinse. Too much salt can cause irritation.

Do not forget the items that come in contact with your fresh piercing. You will want to keep clean such items as telephones, toothbrushes and your hands to avoid transferring bacteria to your open wound.

Hydrogen Peroxide - Hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria, but it also kills the white blood cells attempting to heal your piercing. It can cause irritation and lengthen overall healing time.

Rubbing Alcohol - Alcohol will dry the skin and irritate the raw piercing, which could actually lead to infection.

Glyoxide - This is a product that contains hydrogen peroxide and hinders healing rather than aiding it.

Ear Care Solution - Solutions that are provided by jewelry boutiques and department store piercers usually contain alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and other harmful chemicals that only aggravate a new piercing.

Ointments - Antibacterial ointments or similar products only clog pores and/or kill good cells trying to heal the piercing.

We advise against the use of mouthwashes. After several days of frequent use the tongue surface usually turns green or brown and looks decidedly unhealthy.

An infection is not something to be taken lightly. If you experience extended discomfort and see symptoms worsening, call your piercer or doctor. You may require medical care to ensure the infection does not spread.

A piercing can be a great form of self-expression. Take the necessary steps to make sure your piercing heals properly, and you can experience a life time of beauty.

If your infection does not get better within three days or it gets worse, see a doctor.