All of us here at Paradise & Spear Me strive to give you the best piercing experience possible. From here on out it’s up to you to take care of your new adornment so you may experience a lifetime of trouble free enjoyment. We want you to know how to make this possible, so please read this pamphlet carefully and refer back to it if you develop an issue.
The information contained below is based upon our experience as piercers. It contains all of our advice on how to best care for your new piercing. We are here for you. Should you need help with the healing process or jewelry issues – we are here to assist and advise, usually at no additional cost to you. We are not doctors, and our suggestions, whether written or verbal, stated or implied, are not meant to be medical advice. In the event of a serious infection or other problem, consult your physician.
Basic Care Instructions
The purpose of cleaning a healing piercing is to remove any dead cells and discharge excreted by your body, as well as any external dirt and bacteria picked up during the day. You will not be treating the wound with medicine or making it heal, but rather, keeping the area clean while your body is healing itself. Basic hygiene and common sense, with particular attention to the specific area, are all that are required. You will be the best judge of what works for you. Pay attention to your body. It will let you know if you are doing something wrong.
New piercings should be cleaned at least twice a day. Also, clean after fondling, swimming, sweating, etc. Bear in mind that over-cleaning or using too many products can also irritate your piercing.
A piercing is considered “healed” when a flesh tunnel has formed through the skin around the jewelry. It is a good idea to establish a good cleaning regime to care for your pierced area for the rest of your life. The oil and sweat that you secrete, and normally is exposed to your daily cleaning, is also being secreted into the flesh tunnel around your jewelry. If you don’t clean it routinely, it will cause an unpleasant odor or irritation long after you are “healed”.
Here's what we recommend:
Liquid Soap and Water
The best thing that you can do is to wash away dirt and bacteria from your piercing. It is irrelevant whether it be an antibacterial soap or not. If the piercing is “clean”, it won’t require the antibacterial ingredient. (Besides, while many soaps contain “antibacterial” ingredients, in reality the contact time required for these to be effective may be greater than the time it will be on your skin.) Many different brands of liquid soap are on the market. Choose one you are comfortable with. You may want to stay away from heavy fragrances and fancy additives, as they may be irritating.
To clean the piercing, first wash your hands with the soap. Then lather the piercing and surrounding area, taking care to remove any hardened discharge (crusties) on the jewelry. Once the jewelry is clean, soap it up and work it through the skin so the lather is pulled all the way through the piercing. After a few seconds, rinse well, again moving the jewelry through the piercing while rinsing. We have found cleaning with soap twice a day to be most effective.
Ear Care Antiseptic (Benzylkonium Chloride)
Benzylkonium Chloride is the active ingredient in most pierced ear solutions such as Ear Care and Sensitive Ears. While not as effective of a cleanser as soap, these solutions serve as a quick and soothing way to chemically clean and sanitize piercings when you are away from home.
First, wash your hands. Next, saturate a cotton swab, cotton pad or tissue with solution. Gently swab away any discharge until the jewelry is free of foreign matter. Now saturate the swab again and begin working jewelry up, down, or around through the piercing while swabbing the section of jewelry that was under the skin. Repeat this procedure four times a day for best results.
Warm Salt Water Soak
Warm salt-water soaks can work wonders in assisting the body to heal piercings. Salt is not an antibacterial or sanitizing agent. It should not be used as such. The salt is soothing and hydrating to the skin during the soaking process described below. The prime benefit of this process comes from the gentle draw exerted by the cooling of the water. When properly done it helps draw out discharge, flush out cellular contaminants and prevent infection. It also stimulates circulation and encourages speedy healing. You can use soaks both for general healing and to treat minor infections and irritations. We highly recommend soaking your piercings several times a week, once a day if infected.
Non-iodized (available from health food stores and some grocery stores) work best, as it is most pure. Most table salts contain extra chemicals (aluminum, magnesium, iodide, etc.), which can irritate and sting, and dextrose (sugar), which can cause yeast infections. Many non-iodized salts and kosher salts are natural sea salt. Read the label: if it contains only sodium chloride (salt) and maybe a form of calcium (phosphate or silicate to minimize clumping), it’s good. Also, stronger than recommended concentrations of sea salt WILL irritate the skin. More is not better! Epsom salts are really too strong and are not meant for surface wound soaking. Don’t use them!
THE SOAK: Put ¼ teaspoon (4 pinches) of sea salt in an 8 ounce glass of water as hot as you can stand (distilled if possible). Leave about 1 inch of air space at the top. Tip the glass and hold it over your piercing until the water cools, pressing the opening against the skin to form a seal. This process does not work on piercings where you can’t get the glass over the piercing to form a seal. From our experience, those piercings usually do fine using soap, water and ear care.
DO NOT USE THE FOLLOWING
Alcohol is great to remove oils from the skin, however the contact time required to actually disinfect is substantially longer than you will get by wiping down your piercing. It is irritating and dries out the skin, and can delay healing. It also burns and stings. In short, while common belief says alcohol is a good disinfectant, it’s simply not true. Witch hazel solutions also contain alcohol and should be avoided.
Peroxide does kill many bacteria, but it also destroys the healthy skin around the piercing. Used long enough, it can eat away at the skin and actually keep your piercing from healing. Stay away from it.
These include such products as NeosporinBacitracin and triple antibiotic ointments. You have a puncture wound and not a skin surface wound. While they work on a surface wound, they will clog a puncture and create the perfect warm, moist environment for bacteria to breed. This makes them worthless for healing piercings. Read the label: “ Do not use on puncture wounds”.
Betadine (Providon Iodine)/ Hibiclens
These solutions may be used for first aid or surgical wound care, but for long-term care, they are actually too strong and may delay healing. Betadine may be useful to clear up an infection, but when used too often it can actually kill healthy skin cells. It will also discolor gold jewelry. Some people will develop a sensitivity to these solutions over time. For everyday cleaning, try one of the milder solutions under Basic Care.
Infections and irritations
If you take proper care of your piercing, you may never have to deal with either of these, but just in case. . .
Infections come from exposure to bacteria and other contaminates (by contact with dirty hands, other people’s body fluids, dust, unclean clothing, unclean jewelry, swimming in dirty water, etc.). They are often easily avoided by common sense and good hygiene. You will usually know your piercing is infected if the surrounding area becomes red, swollen, hot to the touch or itchy. There will be a discharge which is dark yellow, and/or bloody, and it may have an unpleasant odor. A facial piercing infection is often accompanied by a small fluid-filled pimple on the hole.
Note: Normal piercings secrete a white/pale yellow liquid during healing. This is not a sign of infection. It contains dead cells, lymph and blood plasma and is a sign of healing. Healed piercings may secrete a stinky white substance (sebum) from the oil glands. It is also normal and comes off easily in cleaning. If discharge is light in color and not accompanied by pain, swelling, itching or If an infection occurs, do not remove the jewelry! In our experience, infections are more easily treated if an opening exists for antiseptics to enter the wound and for discharge to exit. Without jewelry, the surface closes over, trapping the infection inside and turning it from a local surface infection into a generalized body infection. In addition, you lose your piercing unnecessarily.
Warm salt-water soaks are the best way to calm a minor infection. They help draw out discharge and contaminates, soothe raw tissue and stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms. Follow directions under “Warm Salt Water” and repeat as needed. However, even if the infection clears up, it will return if you do not eliminate the original cause of contamination. Pay close attention to how you treat your piercing and try to find the problem.
Of course, in the event of a serious infection, see your doctor. Bear in mind that s/he may not be familiar with healing patterns and problems specific to body piercings. If you wish to keep your piercing, firmly and clearly explain this. If infection (rather than allergy or scarring) is indeed the problem, leaving the jewelry in will not cause complications.
Irritations happen when you subject your piercing to abnormal pressure, excessive movement or abuse. Anything that puts pressure on the jewelry or holds it in an unnatural position will cause the skin to be irritated. More often than not, what you think is an infection is really irritation. If your piercing is red, swollen right around the hole, peeling, excreting white or yellow fluid or blood, or the skin around it has formed a solid lump or a bubble of discolored skin, it is probably irritated.
Common causes are: wearing restrictive clothing over the piercing; sleeping on it; cradling your phone against the jewelry; sex too soon; piercing was hit or jewelry was pulled on; rough play.
If your piercing gets irritated, figure out what’s causing the problem. Be particularly aware of automatic actions (unconsciously playing with it, grinding teeth with tongue piercings, etc.). Usually the symptoms will go away if you eliminate the cause. Warm salt-water soaks can help ease irritation and heal any existing tears, and prevent infection of the raw tissue. If this does not do the trick, contact us for other suggestions.
An allergic reactions is when the body reacts to a foreign substance. Some people are extremely sensitive to certain jewelry materials or to cleaning solutions. Allergic reactions often appear as rashes, excessive clear fluid discharge, redness, itching, or the skin pulling away from the jewelry. They usually show up immediately. This occurs rarely when using implant grade body jewelry and the recommended cleaning solutions. The jewelry you were pierced with is implant grade and of the highest workmanship. If you think you may have such a reaction, stop by the shop so we can see you in person. Keep in mind that many cases of irritation and scarring are mistaken for allergic reactions or infection.