Aftercare Series Part 1- An Introduction to Piercing Aftercare

Today’s blog is the start of a series! A long awaited series all about Aftercare! Aftercare is the process and steps for caring for your piercing in order to ensure that it heals correctly. Aftercare is a huge step in having healthy and happy piercings and bad or incorrect aftercare can absolutely cause piercings to become irritated, and even not heal. This blog will be an introduction to aftercare, piercing healing, and a brief look at how piercings heal before we get into how you can care for them. I can already hear people clamoring “just get to the point” and I will! The following blog posts will cover specific aftercare for ear and facial piercings, oral piercings, surface piercings, and genital piercings, with each getting their own dedicated blogs filled with my favorite tips and tricks. But before we get into that I think it’s important to understand how a piercing heals in order to understand how to care for it. This gives context to why piercers suggest the care they suggest and will help you better understand what’s going on when your piercing is healing. I promise- all of this information is relevant and will help you heal your piercings better!

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How Piercings Heal

Piercings are a form of puncture wound, which is a deep wound caused by something sharp and pointed. Not only that, but piercings are a wound with a foreign body inside of it, that the body must heal around- the jewelry! This is often a very challenging thing for our bodies to do, and part of what can make the process of healing a piercing so much work. Piercings, like many other wounds, heal in three stages.

Stage 1- Inflammation

During the initial stage of wound healing the body will widen the blood vessels around a piercing in order to bring blood carrying white blood cells and other immune responders to the site of a wound or piercing. These cells help protect against infection, help clot the wound, and already begin work on healing the area. And this response happens immediately after we pierce you- our bodies are amazingly fast like that! This his is why your skin feels warm and is red and puffy after a piercing. Your your body is already hard at work healing!

Stage 2- Proliferation

This is when the body shifts gears into building mode. In this stage your body begins creating new skin around the wound, and works to create a fistula or a tube of scar tissue around the jewelry. During this stage you may see an increase of secretions from your piercing, including fluids, and dry crust and debris. This is a normal part of the healing process. You will likely see a little less swelling, and the skin around the piercing may be lightning to a pink color as it heals. For some people, hyperpigmentation or dark spots occur around the piercing as a side effect of the healing process during this stage, and this is also normal.

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Stage 3- Maturation

This happens after new, weak skin has been built around the jewelry. Now the body works on strengthening that skin into healthy, strong, durable skin. During this phase the skin is very weak and fragile, and small things can tear or break it. If you’ve ever gotten a good blister and popped it- you know that shiny sensitive pink skin on the inside? That fragile, thin, weak skin? This is what the inside of a piercing is like at the end of stage 2, and stage 3 is all about strengthening it and making it into healthy, stable skin.

To learn more about the science of wound healing check out this blog here.

It’s important to remember healing is not linear. Piercings often fluctuate between stages during healing. For example, your piercing might be entering phase 3 and you snag it, damaging the healing skin. Now your bodies back in phase 2 and needs to rebuild that skin all over again. Or, if you snag it really good, maybe even back to phase one. If you get sick or are extra stressed during the healing process your body may need to use its energy and cells elsewhere, meaning your piercing doesn’t get the attention it needs, and it lingers in one stage or another for a little longer. It would be amazing if piercings healed perfectly in each phase, and neatly- 1, 2, 3. Instead, healing looks a lot more like 1, 2, 3, 2, 3. Or, if you are clumsy and accident prone like me, more like 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 3, 2, 3.

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