Student Issues

Taking care of a new piercing

I have quite a few piercings myself, but when I first started on my journey of wanting to pierce every part of my body, I made all of the mistakes below at least three times. 
So here’s a quick and general guide for you guys on how to take care of a new piercing.
Expect discomfort
For at least three days after your piercing is done, it will be red, uncomfortable and you’ll probably be in a little bit of pain. 
Don’t panic and rush to the assumption that it’s infected, remember that you’ve just had a needle jammed through your skin and replaced with a metal bar – I’d be more worried if it didn’t hurt.
Wash your hands before cleaning it
This is self-explanatory, the last thing you want is germs from your every-day life getting onto your piercing and causing an infection.
Clean it with boiling water and sea salt
Cooled boiling water and sea salt, that is all. Do not use soap. Do not use table salt. And please, do not listen to your Granny who tells you that rubbing alcohol will kill all the germs. 
Make sure you use non-iodized sea salt as well, there’s less additives so it’s unlikely to irritate the piercing. 
Even if you’re offered pre-made saline solution from your piercer, I’d advise just making your own at home. It’s much cheaper and you know exactly what you’re using.
Clean it three times a day
Boil the water, add a quarter of a teaspoon of sea salt and then let it cool. Take a cotton bud and clean your piercing with it for a minute or two. Three times a day is a perfect amount, as both over-cleaning and under-cleaning can lead to problems.
Don’t panic
I know when I was younger and had my ears pierced, any bit of pus or crust and all hell broke loose. Mum was convinced that the piercing was infected and my ear was about to fall off, and out came the rubbing alcohol to make it all worse. 
If you have white pus coming from your piercing, it’s actually a sign that it’s healing healthily. Don’t panic unless it’s dark yellow or green tinged.
Don’t play with it
If I could practice what I’m preaching here, it would be great. Twisting your jewellery can irritate your piercings (despite what the unqualified piercer in the chemist told you after getting your ears pierced aged six) and touching the piercing alone can lead to infection. I know it’s tempting, but stop it. The last thing you want is to look like Rudolf for a month.
Don’t change your jewellery before it’s healed
Again with not practicing what I’m preaching. Most piercers will tell you not to do this because if your jewellery isn’t properly sterilised it can lead to an infection, however I’m here to bring another point forward. 
If you’re new with piercings, you will not be able to get it back in. About a week after I had my nose pierced, I decided that I wanted to change my stud to a nose ring. 
I’d been warned to leave it for three months but no, I knew best. I took out the stud, only to realise that I couldn’t get the nose ring in and I had no idea how to put a screw stud back in (those of you with nose piercings will understand the impossibility). 
Cue literal blood, sweat and tears as my piercing closed up and I had to re-pierce it with a sewing needle and somehow jam my nose stud back in. I had an infected nose for about three months and my piercing is as straight as a roundabout, so please learn from my mistakes.
Photo: Rafa Puerta/ Flickr