Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Aftercare... Afterwhat!?

Aftercare... It really should be Afterwhat!

Aftercare is an essential part to the healing process of your piercing/tattoo

But the question in this is HOW THE HELL DO YOU DO IT!?!?

Now I'm sure at some point with Aftercare you've pulled a face like this ^ (Okay minus the chip, but you get the confused/shocked face!)
You've got to clean with rubbing alcohol! NO! NO ALCOHOL, YOU'VE GOTTA USE SEA SALT SOAKS! Wait no, I've heard you can just leave it alone and it'll heal by itself? Well my grandmother told me if i washed my face in butter everyday it'll heal anyway....

Truth is, there are a million and one ways to care for a piercing/tattoo. Most of them contradict one another at some point but all in all they make the same sense. However there are some more sensible ways to heal a mod and I'm gonna list them below for you :3 Just remember, follow the aftercare your piercer/tattooist gives you as they do know best whats for your mod! However if they tell you to rub cat shit in it, you know something isn't right!

So you've just got a piercing, YAY! You're all happy until you look at the aftercare sheet. 'Sea salt soak? wtf is that? I have to do it twice a day for 6 months!?' Truth is, sea salt soaks are pretty hard to do! Not many people can get the salt - water ratio right, and even if you do, its an art in itself to suction a shot glass with saline to your piercing! Then its a whole new ball park with oral piercings, what mouthwash to use, can I smoke? CAN I DO ANYTHING? Next thing you know you're all confused and wishing you hadn't even bothered in the first place!

Now truth in the matter is (which a lot of people seem to forget)
Forgetting to clean your piercing won't kill you Odds are it won't even do you any bad. Your body is one giant mechanism for healing and fighting afterall!
However there is no excuse not to use any form of aftercare, so following these methods will do you and your piercing the world of good!

Sea Salt Soaks

Okay so as the name suggest, SALT. But not just any salt, you need to use rock salt (the non iodized stuff!). Normal salt will not do anything so the rocky stuff is best :3 Rock salt and warm water, simple!

How to soak

Using a shot glass, cotton bud/pad, soak the piercing for a few minutes until crusties are gone. You can either use warm saline or room temp saline. Just make sure to rinse!


1/8th teaspoon to half a cup of warm water tends to do the trick! Too salty and it'll dry your piercing out. Too weak and it'll do jack shit.
REMEMBER : Always rinse afterwards! Residue sea salt will still dry a piercing out and will cause all sorts of problems

Saline Solution

In all honesty, I suggest this to people more instead of Sea Salt. The saline is ready made to a good ratio which wont cause the piercing to dry out, is ready to use and portable as well! Best thing to do is to soak with a cotton bud/kitchen towel/ shot glass making sure all the crusties are gone and then rinsing afterwards.
Bliss in a bottle!

But where can I find saline?
Any chemist/supermarket etc. Its in the contact lense section!

How often should I clean? Now, the ideal amount of time to sea salt soak is twice a day. Best times for me are in the morning and before I go to bed. Overcleaning it will dry it out so try not to soak too much. If your piercing gets infected or develops scarring, then Warm Sea Salt Soaks are advised twice a day to help draw out any gunk or infection built up inside the fistula.
Once again, Remember to rinse after every soak!

Well what about oral piercings? How the hell do I clean those cause I don't want salt in my mouth...Understandable, salty water tastes like shit! For oral piercings the best thing you can clean with is...

However not just any mouthwash. It is suggested you use Alcohol-Free mouthwash.

Why you ask?

Alcohol is a magical thing. It gets us drunk, fights infection and taste rather delicious with a sunday roast! However its strong and will destroy bacteria both good and bad! When healing a piercing, you want the good bacteria there and the bad bacteria gone. Alcohol will destroy BOTH and that prolongs the healing. Its essentially making the piercing raw :(

Well how often am I to clean with mouthwash?
Now, I've heard some people say you should mouthwash after pretty much everything with an oral piercing. After eating, After Smoking, After Drinking.... but c'mon. Be realistic?
I'm not gonna carry around a small bottle of mouthwash with me to rinse after having a glass of juice at a resturant! Or that sneaky ciggarette before getting on a train! Only someone who is that into aftercare will, in reality it is just wasted mouthwash.

When healing an oral piercing (esp the tongue) your mouth creates more peptide to cover the surface of the tongue to protect it.
As a guide, you should clean with mouthwash at least twice a day (when you get up, before you go to bed) And AFTER meals. Just a quick rinse will do fine!

Oh god I'm so swollen after my piercings, what do I do ;___;?

The body is fantastic when it comes to healing, and swelling/redness is part of it!
All in all the best ways to deal with swelling are -
Take Neurofen. Its an anti-inflammatory and a painkiller
Icepacks/Ice Water
Rest + Time

However, If at any point your piercing becomes very swollen and red randomly and it causes your concern, consult your piercer or doctor asap! 

I've got this weird bump turn up during healing, WHAT IS THIS?
One thing that is very common during healing is Hypertrophic Scarring, Especially with Cartilage piercings! Simple things like not rinsing sea salt soaks or shampoo when you bathe can cause them as well as bumping then in your sleep accidentally.
Sea salt soaks and chamomile compresses can help reduce and get rid of them, however if one does persist and you've exhausted every method out there, go see your doctor or piercer for professional advice! It could be that the jewellery you have is not compatible with your body (e.g shape wise or metal wise) and is causing irritation!

When can I stop cleaning? Its getting boring!
Ideally, you should stop cleaning when the piercing is fully healed. But be honest, who ACTUALLY has done that? I've never cleaned for 6 months solid with my helix piercing. Infact I stopped cleaning it twice a day after about a month. Then it was the odd clean here and there to keep up maintenance.

Truth in the matter, there is no magical set time for when a piercing has healed or when you should stop cleaning. Some people heal quickly, some people take forever and a day. With all piercings though you should at least clean it during the inital healing (whether that be a week or a few months, it all depends!)
Go by what your body tells you, if your piercing stops crusting and lymphing and feels fine, then you know you can calm the cleaning down and just do maintenance cleaning. If it flares up, you know to be more indepth with cleaning.
We are all different, so no-one fits under the same healing times!


If you follow these aftercare methods, you should heal fine :3 However no-one is the same and each aftercare will be tailored to suit you! Some people need to clean less, some people need to clean more. Some people don't have to do anything and will heal all by themselves so play about and see what works for you ^__^ Just remember to stay safe and clean!