Our Piercing Aftercare 101 article is a great resource for learning how best to care for a new piercing, when and how to change your jewelry, and what to do if you suspect infection. As a supplement to that article, we've pulled together this list of frequently asked questions about new body piercings for your reference:
What can I do to avoid an infection?
Infections are caused by contact with bacteria, fungi, or other living pathogens. Piercing infections can usually be traced to one of the following activities, all of which should be avoided during the initial healing period and during irritations to avoid developing an infection:
- Touching the piercing with unwashed hands, or letting someone else touch your piercing
- Oral contact with the piercing, including your own saliva
- Allowing body fluids to contact the piercing (your urine is sterile to your own body)
- Contact with hair, cosmetics, oils, infrequently washed clothing or bedding, or other agents
- Going into a pool, hot tub, lake, ocean, or other body of water
If you suspect you have an infection, read our Piercing Aftercare 101 article to see how many of the signs and symptoms you have. If any of those warning signs applies to you, contact your doctor about getting on an antibiotic. Do not remove your jewelry until you've started an antibiotic! Removing your jewelry prematurely could lead to bacteria being trapped inside, particularly if you aren't flushing the fistula regularly after removing your jewelry. If you wish to remove your jewelry once you're taking the proper medication, continue cleansing with sea salt solution like Recovery Piercing Aftercare Spray at least 2x/day until your fistula closes and is fully healed.
What should I avoid while my piercing is healing?
- Over-cleaning, vigorous cleaning, and/or using a cleanser that's too strong (sea salt solution is best!)
- Friction from too-tight clothing, sexual activity, or excessive movement of the pierced area
- Turning your jewelry, which can introduce bacteria into the healing fistula
- Wearing jewelry with a high nickel content, which can trigger an allergic reaction
- Sexual activity if you have a new genital piercing or nipple piercings
- Eating hard foods within the first week after getting a tongue piercing
- Swimming in a pool, lake, ocean, or other body of water
- Strenuous exercise that may jar your newly pierced body part
- Stress, poor diet and illness may also delay healing or lead to infection
When is it safe to change my jewelry?
The type of new body piercing you have will play a large role in when you can safely change your body jewelry for the first time. Typically, it's best to wait a minimum of 6 weeks, but for some piercings, you should wait up to a year. For instance, nipple piercings take 9-12 months to fully heal. If you have an issue with your jewelry before then, you can ask your piercer to help you change it. With fast-healing piercings like earlobe piercings and VCH/HCH piercings, 6 weeks should be long enough for your piercing to heal, but you may still need your piercer's help changing your jewelry the first time. If you're not sure if you've waited long enough for your specific piercing to heal, speak to your piercer before trying to change your jewelry.
If changing your jewelry yourself, there are 3 things that might make it easier for you:
- Replace your old jewelry with new jewelry that's the same size and internally-threaded; it's less likely to scrape your fistula (i.e. hole where you were pierced) than externally-threaded jewelry.
- Use a small drop of a water-based lubricant to insert your new jewelry more easily.
- When needed, you can use a taper in the same gauge as your jewelry to feed the jewelry through your fistula.
What's the best type of jewelry for my piercing?
Every type of piercing calls for different types of jewelry. For instance:
- Straight barbells are most often used in tongue piercings.
- Captive bead rings (CBRs) and small bent barbells are typically seen in eyebrow piercings.
- Labret studs, CBRs and circular barbells are best for most lip piercings.
- Nostril screws, nose bones, and labrets are often used in nostril piercings, whereas CBRs or circular barbells may be best for a septum piercing (although some people wear tunnels or even plugs in stretched septum piercings).
- Specialized captive rings may be worn in daith, rook and other cartilage ear piercings.
- CBRs or bent barbells are typically used in VCH piercings, while CBRs are best for HCH piercings.
- Straight barbells and larger rings may be used in frenum piercings.
- Straight barbells, curved barbells, and CBRs all work for nipple piercings, but straight barbells make the best starter jewelry for most people.
Those are just a few examples of the styles of jewelry appropriate for certain body piercings. If you're unsure of the best jewelry to use, speak to your piercer, or post a question in our Body Jewelry Forum.
As for material, surgical steel and titanium jewelry is typically the safest type of starter jewelry to avoid an allergic reaction. Sometimes PTFE or another softer material like silicone may be recommended, depending on the type of piercing. Avoid jewelry with high nickel content, at least until your piercing is fully healed. Titanium-coated jewelry should also be avoided, since the coating can chip off and cause problems with the healing process. All Painful Pleasures' titanium body jewelry is implant-grade 100% solid titanium, which is always the best option for a new piercing--particularly for those who have sensitive skin or metal allergies.
What do I do if I have a question not answered here?
It's always best to speak to your piercer if you have questions about a piercing you just had done. For additional tips, you can also visit our Body Jewelry Forum and look for the section relating to your specific body piercing. You can post a new thread or add a question to an existing thread to get advice from our knowledgeable moderators and other experienced community members.