Vol.2, No.4

Assemble your own piercing cleaning starter kit: product checklist

Appropriate aftercare is essential for all body piercings. This article provides a product checklist so you can create your own piercing cleaning starter kit.

Piercing cleaning kit
Photo Credit: Emrah Turudu
Proper piercing aftercare is crucial to promote healing and prevent infections. The last thing you want is for your new piercing to become infected. Using the wrong products on your new piercing will only prolong the healing process and cause you great discomfort. This article briefly discusses the correct products to use on your fresh piercing.

SEA SALT

Most piercers strongly suggest using mild sea salt-water soaks several times a day to speed up the healing process. Sea salt soaks help remove crusties (dried discharge and lymph secretions), draw out impurities, and relieve any irritation or itching.

Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt into 8 ounces of warm water in a clean, disposable cup. Distilled water is recommended.

If possible, invert the cup right over your piercing and allow it to soak for a few minutes. For certain placements such as nose rings, it is easier to soak a clean cotton ball, cotton swab, or gauze pad in the salt-water solution and gently apply it to the piercing. For oral piercing, you should rinse your mouth briefly with the sea salt-water once or twice daily.

Remember to use sea salt and not table salt. While sea salt is a natural product with no added chemicals, table salt has iodine, which is too strong a chemical to use on a new piercing.

ANTIMICROBIAL OR ANTIBACTERIAL LIQUID SOAPS

An appropriate aftercare routine includes cleaning your piercing and jewelry two or three times a day. Most piercers recommend using an antimicrobial soap rather than an antibacterial soap. Where antibacterial soaps are only effective against bacteria, antimicrobial soaps are effective against bacterial, viruses, and fungi. Provon Medicated Lotion Soap and Satin Antimicrobial Skin Cleanser are both approved by the Association of Professional Piercers. Most piercing shops will carry these products.

If you cannot find an antimicrobial soap in your area, piercers suggest using Dial Liquid Soap, Softsoap, or Almay Hypo-Care. Keep in mind you want to use a soap which is free of dyes, moisturizers, or deodorants because these ingredients are irritating and drying.

PAPER TOWELS OR TISSUE

After soaking or cleaning your piercing, be sure to use a fresh paper towel or tissue to pat it dry. Do not use a washcloth or bath towel because they are breeding grounds for bacteria.

ANTIMICROBIAL OR ANTIBACTERIAL MOUTHWASH

If you have a new oral piercing, you want to use an alcohol-free antimicrobial or antibacterial mouth rinse once or twice daily. Two popular products are Tech 2000 and Biotene, both of which can be found in a piercing studio or with the oral medications in your local drugstore.

Listerine is not generally recommended because its high alcohol content can dry out your tongue and slow down the healing process. If you must use Listerine, dilute it with equal parts clean water.

IBOPUFRIN

Some piercings can hurt more than others. If you are sensitive, an over-the-counter ibuprofen product such as Advil or Motrin IB can help reduce pain or swelling.

VITAMINS

A multivitamin with Zinc and Vitamin C can boost your body's healing abilities. While you are at it, be sure to get enough sleep, drink plenty of fluids, and follow a nutritious diet. The healthier you are the easier and faster your piercing will heal.

WATERPROOF BANDAGES

It is not a good idea to go into public waters with a fresh piercing. If you absolutely cannot avoid submersing yourself in a swimming pool, lake, or hot tub, be sure to cover your piercing with a waterproof bandage. Products such as Tegaderm, Polyskin, and CleanSeals are all recommended.

PRODUCTS TO AVOID

Do not use any products containing hydrogen peroxide or isopropyl alcohol. These products are intended for use on intact skin and can dry, irritate, or even damage the skin around your piercing.

Avoid using petroleum-based ointments such as Neosporin or Bacitracin. These are not designed to use on new piercings and can cause complications with healing.

Do not expose your fresh piercing to beauty products such as cosmetics, hair products, or lotions. These products contain ingredients which could cause infections.

Enjoy your new piercing!