You are here

Blog

Genital & Prince Albert Piercing Aftercare

Illustration of zippered pants with captive bead ring button to indicate pierced genital regions

You might assume that genital piercings are pretty rare, which is understandable — you aren’t as likely to see a Prince Albert or clitoral hood piercing in everyday life as you are an ear or nose piercing. But they’re more common than many people think, and for good reasons. In addition to being sexy and exciting, many genital piercings provide increased stimulation during sex, both for those with the piercing and their partner.

If you want your genital piercing to look good, remain healthy, and provide the sexual stimulation you’re looking for, it is absolutely critical to practice good piercing aftercare. This short guide will walk you through the basics of genital piercing aftercare, go over some dos and don’ts of the genital piercing healing process, and provide tips for avoiding some of the most common complications of genital piercings. 

Illustration of clock to indicate healing time for genital piercingsGenital Piercing Types and Healing Times

How long it takes a genital piercing to heal depends largely on what type of piercing it is. Some genital piercings can heal in as little as 6-8 weeks, while others will take 6 months or more. Below is a list of the average healing times for most male and female genital piercings. 

 

Female Genital Piercing Average Healing Times 

  • Christina Piercings: 3-4 months
  • Clitoris Piercings: 4-6 weeks
  • Fourchette Piercings: 2-3 months
  • Horizontal Clitoral Hood Piercings: 6-8 weeks
  • Inner Labia Piercings: 4-6 weeks
  • Outer Labia Piercings: 2-3 months
  • Princess Diana Piercings: 4-8 weeks
  • Triangle Piercings: 2-3 months
  • Vertical Clitoral Hood Piercings: 4-8 weeks

Male Genital Piercing Average Healing Times

  • Ampallang Piercings: 4-6 months or more
  • Apadravya Piercings: 4-6 months or more
  • Dolphin Piercings: 4-8 weeks
  • Dydoe Piercings: 2-3 months or more
  • Frenum Piercings: 4-6 months or more
  • Guiche Piercings: 2-3 months
  • Hafada/Scrotal Piercings: 2-3 months
  • Lorum Piercings: 2-3 months
  • Prince Albert & Reverse PA Piercings: 4-6 weeks
  • Pubic Piercings: 2-3 months

If you’re still deciding whether to get a genital piercing, you should understand which types will best suit your desires and anatomy, as well as how their healing will impact your daily life. We explain the above piercings at length in our Female Genital Piercing Options and Male Genital Piercing Options articles, so head there if you’re still not sure which of these genital piercings would be best for you.

You should also be aware that some of these piercings (such as Christina piercings, frenum piercings, dydoe piercings, hafada piercings, and pubic piercings) are surface piercings, which are more prone to migration and rejection. For these piercings it is important that your piercer use the largest-gauge jewelry possible and pierce as deep as they can for your specific anatomy. 

Genital Piercing Aftercare Illustration of Recovery saline solution in a spray bottle

Your piercer will provide you with detailed aftercare instructions for your specific genital piercing, but we’ve outlined here the basic dos and don’ts for the duration of your recovery and aftercare.

Image of a check mark to indicate the right thing to do during genital piercing recovery

What to Do 

Keep your Piercing Clean: The best way to keep your genital piercing clean is by doing sea salt solution (SSS) soaks 2-3 times per day for the duration of the healing process. You can soak your piercing by fully submerging it in SSS for at least 5 minutes (which is convenient for penile head or shaft piercings) or by soaking a clean cotton ball in SSS and applying it to your piercings until they have each been saturated for at least five minutes. Between full soaks, you should rinse your piercing with a saline rinse like Recovery Aftercare Spray 2-3 times per day to keep the fistula clear of debris and your skin hydrated. You can buy SSS or make your own by mixing ¼ teaspoon of sea salt with one cup of sterile water. If you make your own SSS you can also add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil, which is a natural antiseptic 

Take Care of Yourself: Good general health and hygiene will aid healing significantly. Drink lots of water, wash your hands often, try to get 8 hours of sleep per night, and eat nutritious foods. These practices will bolster your immune system and allow your body to focus on healing your piercing. 

Be Gentle on Your Genitals: While your genital piercing heals, it is important to treat it gently and avoid any trauma that could prolong your healing or increase the risk of infection and rejection. That means wearing comfortable clothes that aren’t too tight against your piercing, refraining from sexual activity (see Resuming Sexual Activity, below), and avoiding unnecessary handling of your piercing or jewelry.

Image of a prohibited symbol to indicate the wrong things to do during genital piercing recovery

What Not to Do

Don’t Drink Alcohol or Take Blood Thinners: Alcohol, excessive caffeine, and aspirin all thin your blood, making it more likely that your genital piercing will bleed and be unable to clot effectively. If you want something to manage pain and discomfort while you heal, take a small dose of acetaminophen. 

Don’t Smoke: Nicotine hinders the immune system and prolongs healing, so if you’re a smoker, it’s best to curb or quit smoking before you get your piercing. You may also try lower-nicotine alternatives such as e-cigarettes or nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges.

Don’t Submerge Your Piercing in Water: Immersion in non-sterile water, such as in a bathtub, hot tub, pool, or other body of water, can expose your piercing to bacteria that could increase the risk of infection.

Don’t Handle Your Piercing or Jewelry Unnecessarily: It is best to keep your hands off your jewelry while your genital piercing heals, as touching it can expose it to bacteria and inflict physical trauma on the piercing. If “crusties”  form around your piercing, do not move the jewelry to break them up. Rather, soak them in SSS or aftercare spray and wipe them away with a clean cotton ball. You’ll also have to wait until your piercing is fully healed to change or remove your starter jewelry. If you’re unsure about when or how to change your jewelry for the first time, have your piercer help you. 

Don’t Clean Your Piercing with Normal Soap: Soap can cause skin dryness and irritation, which both increase the risk of infection. It’s okay if some soapy water runs over your piercing while you’re showering, but stick to SSS soaks and aftercare spray for cleaning your piercing. If you feel you need something stronger due to malodor or another piercing problem (see below), you could add an antiseptic solution rinse to your aftercare regimen in addition to SSS soaks. 

Don’t Use Creams, Balms, or Ointments: These can all clog a piercing, trapping bacteria and increasing the risk of infection. If you’re experiencing dryness or irritation, the best remedy is sea salt solution with added tea tree oil

Illustration of a heart to indicate sexual activityResuming Sexual Activity with a Genital Piercing

Although it will be tempting to take your new genital piercing for a test run in the bedroom immediately, it is critical to abstain from all sexual activity (including oral sex and masturbation) until your genital piercing is entirely healed. Returning to sex too soon could cause physical trauma to the piercing, extending the healing time, or expose the piercing to bacteria, increasing the risk of infection. When your piercing is healed and you’re ready to resume sex, there are still a couple things to keep in mind. It’s a good idea to use a condom while the piercing is still relatively new to reduce the risk of bacterial exposure and minimize the movement of your jewelry during sex. Second, understand that there will likely be an adjustment period for both you and your partner as you discover together what sex with a genital piercing feels like. Take it slow, explore together, and if anything causes pain to your piercing or your partner, stop to figure out what’s wrong and if you can continue. 

Troubleshooting Genital Piercing Problems Illustration of an exclamation point to call attention to symptoms of infection

There are a few common problems you may experience with your new genital piercing, but as long as you recognize them in time and address them quickly, they shouldn’t compromise your piercing. 

Swelling

It is normal to experience some slight swelling with a new piercing, which is why your piercer will start you off with jewelry large enough to accommodate some expansion of the tissue around it. However, if the swelling is so intense that skin begins to press uncomfortably against or swallow the ends of your jewelry, you need to see your piercer immediately as prolonged pressure can lead to tissue death and infection. To help control swelling, you can take a low dose of acetaminophen or apply a cold compress wrapped in a clean cloth for 10-15 intervals. 

Allergic Reaction

Before you are pierced, alert your piercer if you have previously experienced contact dermatitis with specific materials. If so, they will likely recommend using BioPlast or titanium jewelry, which are less likely to cause allergic reactions than other materials. If you develop red, itchy spots around your piercing, you may be having an allergic reaction. Contact your piercer and, if necessary, they can help change your jewelry.

Infections

Following the aftercare steps described above should go a long way in preventing infections, but they may still occur. If you develop red streaks radiating from your genital piercing site, a discharge of thick, yellow pus instead of clear lymph that dries to a white crust, skin that's extra hot to the touch, or a fever, you may be developing a genital piercing infection. In this case, you should increase your daily SSS soaks to three and add tea tree oil and an antiseptic solution rinse to your regimen. If these steps do not improve your symptoms within a couple of days, see your doctor immediately in order to obtain antibiotics to treat the infection. Medicine, along with your normal aftercare routine, should get the infection under control.

Even if you develop an infection, it is best not to remove your jewelry, as doing so may trap bacteria inside the piercing. If you want to abandon your piercing due to infection, see your piercer to help remove your jewelry and make sure that you continue with two SSS soaks per day, aftercare spray, and antiseptic rinses to keep the piercing clean and healthy until it heals.

Hypergranulation

Hypergranulation will look like either a dark red, pus-filled bump that appears alongside a genital piercing, or like a ring of red, puffy skin all around one side of the piercing. Hypergranulation is likely due to a combination of excess moisture and jewelry that is too tight. To address excess moisture, try blotting your piercing with clean facial tissue after SSS soaks and giving your piercing time to air dry after showers before you put clothes on. If severe moisture accumulates around your genital piercing during the course of the day, you may try applying a small amount of fragrance-free baby powder around, but not on, your genital piercing. If your jewelry is digging into your skin, you should see your piercer to swap out for larger jewelry. These steps in addition to your aftercare program should bring hypergranulation under control in a week or so.

Illustration of basic body jewelry for genital piercingsGenital Piercing Jewelry

Once your genital piercing is fully healed, you’ll be ready to explore the wide variety of jewelry they can accommodate. Many genital piercings (such as clitoral hood, triangle, or labia piercings for women, and frenum, lorum, or hafada piercings for men) can accommodate straight barbells or curved barbells as well as captive bead rings. A Prince Albert piercing, the most common male genital piercing, can accommodate curved barbells, circular barbells, captive bead rings, or specialized jewelry called a Prince Albert wand. Other genital piercings, however, must take specific types of jewelry. For men, ampallang and apadravya piercings can take only long, straight barbells, while for women a Christina piercing will require a surface barbell often called a Christina bar.