What Is a Belly Button Piercing?
A belly button piercing is when you have a ring or other ornament through the skin around your belly button. If you want to get a belly button piercing, keep in mind that it only takes a few minutes to get it done, but it can take up to a year to heal. During that time -- as well as after -- you'll need to take extra care of this area.
Belly Button Piercing Safety
If you want to have a belly button piercing, take steps to prevent problems:
- Choose a piercer with care. Just because a piercer has a license doesn’t mean they’re well trained and experienced in piercing. Ask your piercer how long they’ve been doing this and how they learned. Ask how they continue to learn and improve. This is important because piercing does have risks, including infection and the possibility of spreading blood-borne diseases. A good piercer should be willing to talk to you about their qualifications and the details of the piercing you want. If you don’t trust them, look for another piercer.
- Go to a salon you trust. Look for a clean, sanitary shop that has a license from the Association of Professional Piercers. You should see a sign on the wall. The lighting should be good so your piercer can see what they're doing.
- Make sure the needle is sanitary. Instruments should be in sealed pouches, which shows they are sterile. If your piercer uses a disposable, one-use needle, you should watch them open a new package.
- Choose your jewelry carefully. Medical-grade stainless steel is the least likely to cause an allergic reaction. Other safe choices include gold (14 karat or higher), titanium, and niobium. The ring or stud you choose should have a shiny finish and be free of nicks, scratches, or rough edges.
If the jewelry has irregular surfaces, your skin will grow to fill those areas. Anytime the jewelry gets moved, your skin could tear. If this happens a lot, you’ll get scarring and it may take even longer to heal. You’ll also be at more risk of infection.
Belly Button Piercing Procedure
If you go to a salon to get your piercing, a trained piercer will pass a sterile, hollow needle through the loose skin of your navel. Here’s what to expect:
- Your piercer will mark the spot to be pierced.
- You'll feel a sharp pinch and can expect a small amount of blood.
- The jewelry you choose will go through this new opening.
- Expect to pay for both the piercing and the jewelry you pick.
- You shouldn't get this done with a piercing gun since it can damage your tissue and raise the chances of infection.
Belly Button Piercing Aftercare
Unlike pierced ears, which take 4-6 weeks to heal, your belly button may not fully heal for up to 1 year. You'll go home with tips on how to keep your new piercing clean and prevent infection.
You'll need to:
- Wash your hands before you touch your piercing. Also, don't let anyone else touch the area until it has healed.
- Swab with saline solution to keep it clean and avoid infection. At least once a day, dab the area with clean gauze or a paper towel soaked with saline solution. You can use a ready-made brand or dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm, distilled, or bottled water. If your piercer suggests that you use soap, choose a mild, scent-free one. Rinse well so you don't leave any soap behind.
- Don’t clean too much. Cleaning too often or too much can slow down healing.
- Gently dry the area with a clean, disposable paper product.
- Leave any crust alone. It's normal for a white or yellow-colored fluid (not pus) to ooze from your new piercing. This may form a crust that can itch or feel tight. Try not to pick at it, since that will cause the area to bleed. This crust will come off on its own as your piercing heals.
- Don't put anything on your belly button unless a doctor tells you to. That includes lotions, oil, and perfume. Even antibacterial cream and hydrogen peroxide may slow healing or trap bacteria inside your new opening.
- Wear clean, loose, and soft clothes. Tight clothing and rough fabric will rub against your piercing, which can make it take longer to heal. You may want to use a stretchy, elastic bandage to hold an eye patch over your belly button and protect the area.
- Stay out of lakes, hot tubs, and pools. A waterproof bandage may help, but it’s best to avoid any water that may not be clean and could cause an infection.
- Don’t wear charms or dangly jewelry in your piercing. Hanging or dangly charms or jewelry can get pulled and tear your skin.
- Watch for signs of infection. These include redness, swelling, yellow or green discharge, or pain when you touch the site. You could also have a fever. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor right away.
Belly Button Piercing Risks
Although many people don't have any problems after they get a body piercing, you could have:
- Infection. A piercing on your belly button is more likely to get infected than other body parts because of its shape. It's easy for bacteria to hole up inside it. If the piercing needle wasn't sterile, there's a chance you could get serious infections like hepatitis or tetanus.
- Tearing. If your jewelry catches on things, it could tear your skin. If this happens, you may need stitches.
- Allergic reaction. This is often due to nickel in the jewelry.
- Scarring. Thick, lumpy scars called keloids may form around the site of your piercing.
- Migration or rejection. Sometimes a piercing moves from its original spot or your body could reject it. This happens most when the piercing wasn’t done in a good place or when the jewelry is too small or of poor quality.
If you run into problems or decide you don’t want it, simply take out your ring or stud. Fresh belly piercings tend to close quickly. If you've had one for years, it can close in a few weeks, but for some people it can take longer.
Make sure you clean the area regularly until it's fully healed. If you want to keep your piercing for the long term, put jewelry in it all the time.
Who Should Not Get a Belly Button Piercing
Some health issues can make it harder for your body to heal or cause you to have a reaction after you get a piercing. Talk to your doctor first if you have:
- An autoimmune disorder
- Heart problems
- A skin condition around your belly button (like a rash, open sore, or moles)