Disclaimer: I have no medical background; my opinions are purely based on experience.
With covid-restrictions lifting, piercing shops are opening and a lot more people will rush to get piercings they have craved for a year and a half.
As someone with seven piercings and two tattoos, I feel like I’ve reached a point at which I can give aftercare advice, as sometimes instructions are not the clearest.
Firstly: make sure you are prepared to look after it. If you plan to be out late drinking and sleeping on your mates’ couches every night – which is fair enough, it is summer and we have been trapped inside for what feels like forever – then do not do it. It will get infected, and it will hurt!
The typical time it takes for lobe piercings to heal is about two months, with cartilage ones taking from six months to a year. Piercers will generally advise you to use anti-bacterial soap to wash the new piercing twice a day, then soak it in saline solution, and apart from that, not touch it.
What they fail to mention is that it is incredibly tempting to touch and fiddle with it, partially just because it is a new metal stud sticking out of your body, or in my case, because you are trying to assess how much it hurts, how much it can move and therefore how close it is to healing. This is something that I found myself struggling with: fighting the urge to constantly feel it to determine how close it is to healing properly. It’s okay to rotate the piercing to make sure its healing independently, but only do so with clean hands and when it is wet. It’s not worth the potential pain and infection that you can cause yourself otherwise.
Some more advice that I have learnt the hard way:
Contact solution is not the same thing as typical sterile saline solution. I’ve had pharmacists tell me that it would be fine, but it is not. They are made up of different chemicals, they do different things; and in the case of contact solution that isn’t help healing piercings.
You can make saline solution at home. This consists of boiling water and then mixing it with sea salt. It is very important that you use sea salt for this and not table salt as again, table salt contains extra chemicals that can irritate your piercing.
Spray the area with saline with a spray bottle instead of soaking it. I cannot tell you why it is, but if you make sure that the solution gets inside the pierced hole, it just works better than soaking it using cotton as many people recommend.
When it comes to buying the products you need, it does not need to be expensive. You can pick up a spray bottle for a couple of pounds at a supermarket and as I mentioned earlier, make your own saline, if not buy it cheaply at a pharmacist. However, my personal recommendation is using the ‘Tattoo Goo Piercing Aftercare Kit’. Tattoo Goo is the brand I use for both piercing and tattoo aftercare and I absolutely swear by it. It costs £12.99 from Superdrug, but I find it helps to have everything you need together – and the certainty that the soap is appropriate and fragrance-free so won’t irritate your piercing. As well as the soap and saline, it also contains a piercing-safe antiseptic spray which helps to prevent infection and can be used internally too.
If you can commit to doing this every day until your piercing is fully healed, then go for it! But remember to do your own research into different piercings first as the healing time can differ.