Sunday, November 7, 2010

Body Piercing Basics

Body Piercing BasicsMy dad has been a body piercer for over 30 years, and although I never followed him into the profession, I have picked up a thing or two. It never ceases to amaze me how many people do not know the basics of maintaining their piercings. The most surprising question I hear asked over and over is “how long to I have to clean it?”.

It’s really one of those questions that makes you stop and think why this person wants to be pierced. That doubt in you mind is confirmed by the look of shock on their face when to they’ll need to continue cleaning it at least once a day, more so in the first few weeks.

Cleaning Tips

When you first get a major piercing (like a belly ring), you will notice that a gooey substance will leak from the ‘wound’ for the first few weeks. This is nothing to be concerned about as it is just body fat that the body is expelling from the area until the wound is healed. You will need to clean this fat off the piercing on a regular basis to prevent infection. This body fat tends to dry hard, do not move the ring or barbell around too much when this occurs, as it will tear the healing flesh around the ring/barbell.

Body Piercing BasicsThe best way to clean your new piercing is boil a kettle and place the hot water in a bowl. Dissolve some salt into this water and allow to cool. When the salt-water mix becomes cool enough to touch (but still warm) dip a cotton tip into the water and then gently start to clean the ring/barbell and surrounding skin. Be prepared to use a number of cotton tips, as you need to avoid ‘double dipping’ the tip. In addition, you will need to use a fresh cotton tip when cleaning opposite side (i.e. a different tip for both the top and bottom of your tongue). This is to stop the spread of germs or possible infection. You will need to clean fresh piercings several times a day.

If the ‘gooey’ substance does dry onto the ring/barbell and you are unable to get it off with just the warm salt water, try having a hot shower first – this will soften the hard substance making it easier to clean.

Please Note: Avoid using things like mentho or other alcohol-based substances to clean your piercings. These substances will tighten the skin (effectively closing the wound) and trap the excess body fat and waste in the piercing, which can lead to infection.

Once the piercing has established itself, it usually will not discharge any substance, meaning that the wound has fully healed. When fully healed, you should clean your piercing at least once a day. You can do this while in the shower, just give it a quick clean to get off excess sweat and dirt.

How can you tell if the piercing is infected?

Body Piercing BasicsThe first sign of infection is generally a redness to the flesh around the piercing, and the wound continuing to discharge well after the recommended healing time (times vary depending on what you get done and the technique the piercer uses – you should be informed on healing times when you get the piercing). The area around the piercing will generally be painful. An infection can occur at any time, so you need to keep an eye on your piercing and keep it clean. If in doubt, go back to your piercer (or if not available your doctor) and get them to check it out. Infections can be very serious and may need to be tended to on a medical level – do not be afraid to enquire or ask for a professional opinion.

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