Body and Surface Piercing Aftercare

When it comes to body piercings, diligent aftercare is crucial for optimal healing and minimizing the risk of infection. Healing times can vary based on factors such as piercing type and placement, as well as individual health. In the initial weeks, it’s normal for the pierced area to exhibit redness, tenderness, and swelling.

Surface piercing, including surface tragus, hip, belly button, and navel piercings, require special attention. Healing times may extend from 6 months to 1 year, emphasizing the need for patience and proper care. Keep in mind that these durations are approximate and influenced by individual health and adherence to aftercare practices.

To mitigate the risk of infection, practitioners advise a vigilant approach to aftercare. General hygiene practices play a pivotal role, and specific recommendations include:

  1. Hand Washing: Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching the piercing. This simple yet effective practice helps prevent the introduction of harmful bacteria.
  2. Keeping it Clean: Regular cleaning of the piercing site is paramount. Follow your practitioner’s guidelines on cleaning solutions and frequency to maintain optimal hygiene.

Incorporating these habits into your routine significantly reduces the risk of infection and contributes to a successful healing process. As with any form of body art, responsible aftercare is the key to preserving both the aesthetic and health aspects of your piercing.

Whether it’s a surface tragus, hip, or navel piercing, understanding the unique healing requirements and committing to proper aftercare will go a long way in ensuring a positive piercing experience. Consult with your practitioner for personalized advice and guidance throughout the healing journey.

Remember, your body’s response to piercing is individual, and healing times can vary. By prioritizing aftercare and hygiene, you empower yourself to enjoy your surface piercing while minimizing potential complications.

Hand Washing Tips for Piercing Aftercare and Infection Prevention

When it comes to reducing infection risks, hand washing stands out as the most critical practice, especially for new piercings. To ensure optimal hygiene and minimize the risk of infection, follow these essential hand washing tips:

  • Prioritize Hand Washing: Before touching the affected area, it’s crucial to wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Effective Hand Washing Technique: Use warm water and liquid soap for a thorough hand wash.
  • Complete Drying Process: Always dry your hands completely using a clean towel or paper towel. This step is vital in removing most germs and preventing their transfer to the affected area.


A new piercing is likely to exhibit tenderness, itchiness, and slight redness, which are normal symptoms that can persist for a few weeks. Additionally, a pale, odourless fluid may discharge from the piercing, forming a crust. It’s important to note that this discharge is not pus and does not necessarily indicate infection.

To distinguish between normal healing processes and potential infection, stay vigilant for signs such as persistent redness, excessive swelling, and unusual discharge with an unpleasant odour. If in doubt, consult your practitioner for guidance.

By incorporating proper hand washing techniques into your piercing aftercare routine, you enhance the chances of a smooth healing process. Remember, maintaining good hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to safeguard your new piercing.

As you embark on your piercing journey, prioritize hand washing as a fundamental step towards a healthy and infection-free healing experience.

Effective Body and Surface Piercing Aftercare

Ensuring the proper aftercare for body and surface piercings, including nape, horizontal navel, nipple, and more, is vital for a smooth healing journey. Follow these expert tips:

  1. Soaking Technique: Submerge the pierced area in a warm water and sea salt solution or use a wet cloth as a warm compress. Soften discharge to clean entry and exit points with a cotton bud or gauze.
  2. Cleaning Routine: Perform cleaning twice a day, preferably after washing or bathing. Gently move jewelry to work warm water through the piercing. Always tighten bar balls by turning to the right.
  3. Antibacterial Solutions: Consider mild antibacterial solutions and soaps. Consult your pharmacist for recommendations and follow manufacturers’ instructions. Discontinue use if irritation occurs.
  4. Drying Method: Only use fresh disposable paper towels for drying. Avoid communal towels to prevent contamination. Do not use cotton wool, as its fibers may get caught in the piercing.
  5. Discharge Caution: Avoid picking at discharge, and refrain from moving, twisting, or turning the piercing when dry. Turning jewelry on hardened discharge may tear the piercing, inviting bacteria and delaying healing.
  6. Clothing Considerations: For nipple piercing, avoid tight clothing. After navel piercing, steer clear of tight items like tights or belts that may irritate the wound.
  7. Sunbeds and Swimming Precautions: Do not use sunbeds within the first two weeks. If you decide to use them, cover the wound area with a breathable plaster during tanning. Refrain from swimming for the initial 24 hours post-piercing.

Follow these guidelines for effective aftercare, ensuring a safe and efficient healing process for your body and surface piercings.

Signs of Infection

Identifying Signs of Piercing Infection:

While oral piercings can be a stylish form of self-expression, it’s crucial to be vigilant for signs of infection. If appropriate aftercare is neglected, infection may occur. Familiarize yourself with the following indicators:

  • Increased Swelling and Redness: Watch for swelling and redness that progressively intensifies around the piercing site.
  • Severe Burning and Throbbing Sensation: Be cautious if you experience a severe burning and throbbing sensation around the piercing, as this may indicate an infection.
  • Heightened Tenderness and Pain: Increased tenderness, especially when touched, can be a sign of infection. If the piercing becomes increasingly painful, it’s essential to take notice.
  • Unusual Discharge with Offensive Smell: Pay attention to any unusual discharge, particularly if it is yellow or green and has an offensive smell. These are potential signs of infection.


If you observe any of the above symptoms or have concerns about infection or allergic reactions, take the following steps immediately:

  • Contact Your Practitioner: Reach out to your piercing professional promptly to discuss your symptoms and seek advice on next steps.
  • Seek Medical Attention: If the signs of infection are severe or if you have any doubts, seek immediate medical attention.
  • Allergic Reaction Concerns: If you suspect an allergic reaction to any products used during the piercing process, consult your practitioner or seek medical assistance.


Remember: Prompt action is crucial when it comes to potential piercing infections or allergic reactions. Early intervention can prevent complications and contribute to a smoother healing process. If in doubt, always prioritize your health and well-being by seeking professional guidance.

For Further Information

If you have concerns about piercing safety or suspect any issues related to hygiene and health standards, it’s essential to take prompt action. Follow these steps to report concerns:

  • Contact Your Local Environmental Health Department: Reach out to your local Environmental Health Department to report concerns about hygiene, cleanliness, or any potential violations in piercing establishments.
  • Get in Touch with Public Health England Health Protection Team: If you believe there are broader health-related concerns, contact your local Public Health England Health Protection Team.

This Information is provided by: Public Health England, North West Public Health England, East Midlands Tattoo and Piercing Industry Union

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