Caring for a piercing site
Most body piercing wounds can be cared for at home. If you received written instructions from the person who did the body piercing, follow those instructions carefully. This will help prevent problems and promote healing.
If you did not receive instructions for care of the piercing site, try the following:
- Stop any bleeding by applying direct pressure to the piercing site.
- Apply a cold pack to help reduce swelling or bruising. Never apply ice directly to the skin. This can cause tissue damage. Put a layer of fabric or a cloth towel between the cold pack and the skin.
- Wash the wound for 5 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day, with large amounts of warm water.
- Elevate the piercing area, if possible, to help reduce swelling.
- If you have a mouth or tongue piercing, use an antibacterial mouthwash, such as Listerine or Scope, 3 or 4 times a day to help the healing process. Avoid smoking, and don't drink alcohol or eat spicy foods until the piercing site is fully healed.
- Clean your jewelry with hot, soapy water.
- Use of an antibiotic ointment has not been shown to affect healing. If you choose to use an antibiotic ointment, such as polymyxin B sulfate (for example, Polysporin) or bacitracin, apply the ointment lightly to the wound. If a skin rash or itching develops, stop using the ointment. The rash may be caused by an allergic reaction.
- Avoid tight clothing over the piercing area. Tight clothing may irritate the piercing site. If irritation develops, it is best to bandage the site. Piercing sites usually will heal well with or without a bandage.
- If the piercing site is red or you are worried about getting an infection, remove the jewelry. Soak the site in warm water for 20 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day. If it is too hard to soak the piercing site (for example, if you had your belly button pierced), apply a warm, moist cloth instead. If the site looks or feels worse during home treatment, check your symptoms to find out if you need to see your doctor. If the site does not get better after 48 hours of home treatment, call your doctor.
How fast the wound heals depends on the piercing site. The wound may take 4 to 6 weeks or longer to heal. Some sites may take up to a year to heal fully.Medicine you can buy without a prescription Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your pain:
- Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs):
- Aspirin (also a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug), such as Bayer or Bufferin
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.Safety tips Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:
- Carefully read and follow all directions on the medicine bottle and box.
- Do not take more than the recommended dose.
- Do not take a medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to it in the past.
- If you have been told to avoid a medicine, call your doctor before you take it.
- If you are or could be pregnant, do not take any medicine other than acetaminophen unless your doctor has told you to.
- Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20 unless your doctor tells you to.