AFTERCARE PROCEDURES

& TROUBLESHOOTING

At House of Pain we will take care of you! In the event you have any trouble with your initial jewelry, we will replace it 

FOR FREE! You don't want a piercing gone wrong, and we don't want that for you either. So PLEASE, if you have any trouble, stop in and let us take care of you!

When you get pierced at House of Pain, you will receive your piercer's cell number. Not the shop answering machine,

A REAL PERSON! If you have any questions at any time CALL US!!! All studios should have similar care instructions, however, it is always best to follow ONE set of instructions ONLY. Sometimes people cannot follow a specific regimen. Let us help you figure out what works best FOR YOU!

All info on this page taken from safepiercing.org

 

Suggested Aftercare Guidelines for Body Piercings

 

Cleaning Solutions

Use one or both of the following solutions for healing piercings:

• Packaged sterile saline solution with no additives (read the label), or a non-iodized sea salt mixture: Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized (iodine-free) sea salt into one cup (8 oz.) of warm distilled or bottled water. A stronger mixture is not better; a saline solution that is too strong can irritate the piercing.

• A mild, fragrance-free liquid soap—preferably anti-microbial or germicidal.

Cleaning Instructions for Body Piercing

• WASH your hands thoroughly prior to cleaning or touching your piercing for any reason.

• SALINE soak for five to ten minutes once or more per day. Invert a cup of warm saline solution over the area to form a vacuum. For certain piercings it may be easier to apply using clean gauze or paper towels saturated with saline solution. A brief rinse afterward will remove any residue.

• SOAP no more than once or twice a day. While showering, lather up a pearl size drop of the soap to clean the jewelry and the piercing. Leave the cleanser on the piercing no more than thirty seconds.

• RINSE thoroughly to remove all traces of the soap from the piercing. It is not necessary to rotate the jewelry through the piercing.

• DRY by gently patting with clean, disposable paper products. Cloth towels can harbor bacteria and snag on jewelry, causing injury.

WHAT IS NORMAL?

• Initially: some bleeding, localized swelling, tenderness, or bruising.

• During healing: some discoloration, itching, secretion of a whitish-yellow fluid (not pus) that will form some crust on the jewelry. The tissue may tighten around the jewelry as it heals.

• Once healed: the jewelry may not move freely in the piercing; do not force it. If you fail to include cleaning your piercing as part of your daily hygiene routine, normal but smelly bodily secretions may accumulate.

• A piercing may seem healed before the healing process is complete. This is because tissue heals from the outside in, and although it feels fine, the interior remains fragile. Be patient, and keep cleaning throughout the entire healing period.

• Even healed piercings can shrink or close in minutes after having been there for years! This varies from person to person; if you like your piercing, keep jewelry in—do not leave it empty.

What to Do

• Wash your hands prior to touching the piercing; leave it alone except when cleaning. During healing, it is not necessary to rotate your jewelry.

• Stay healthy; the healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal. Get enough sleep and eat a nutritious diet. Exercise during healing is fine; listen to your body.

• Make sure your bedding is washed and changed regularly. Wear clean, comfortable, breathable clothing that protects your piercing while you are sleeping.

• Showers tend to be safer than taking baths, as bathtubs can harbor bacteria. If you bathe in a tub, clean it well before each use and rinse off your piercing when you get out.

What to Avoid

• Avoid cleaning with Betadine®, Hibiciens®, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Dial® or other harsh soaps, as these can damage cells. Also avoid ointments as they prevent necessary air circulation.

• Avoid Bactine®, pierced ear care solutions and other products containing Benzalkonium Chloride (BZK). These can be irritating and are not intended for long term wound care.

• Avoid over-cleaning. This can delay your healing and irritate your piercing.

• Avoid undue trauma such as friction from clothing, excessive motion of the area, playing with the jewelry, and vigorous cleaning. These activities can cause the formation of unsightly and uncomfortable scar tissue, migration, prolonged healing, and other complications.

• Avoid all oral contact, rough play, and contact with others’ bodily fluids on or near your piercing during healing.

• Avoid stress and recreational drug use, including excessive caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.

• Avoid submerging the piercing in unhygenic bodies of water such as lakes, pools, hot tubs, etc. Or, protect your piercing using a waterproof wound-sealant bandage (such as 3M™ Nexcare™ Clean Seals). These are available at most drugstores.

• Avoid all beauty and personal care products on or around the piercing including cosmetics, lotions, and sprays, etc.

• Don’t hang charms or any object from your jewelry until the piercing is fully healed.

Hints & Tips

JEWELRY:

• Unless there is a problem with the size, style, or material of the initial jewelry, leave it in the place for the entire healing period. See a qualified piercer to perform any jewelry change that becomes necessary during healing. 

• Contact your piercer if your jewelry must be removed (such as for a medical procedure). There are non-metallic jewelry alternatives available.

• Leave jewelry in at all times. Even old or well-healed piercing can shrink or close in minutes even after having been there for years. If removed, re-insertion can be difficult or impossible.

• With clean hands or paper product, be sure to regularly check threaded ends on your jewelry for tightness. (“Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.”)

• Carry a clean spare ball in case of loss or breakage.

• Should you decide you no longer want the piercing, simply remove the jewelry (or have a professional piercer remove it) and continue cleaning the piercing until the hole closes. In most cases only a small mark will remain.

• In the event an infection is suspected, quality jewelry or an inert alternative should be left in place to allow for drainage or the infection. If the jewelry is removed, the surface cells can close up, which can seal the infection inside the piercing channel and result in an abscess. Do not remove jewelry unless instructed to by a medical professional.

FOR PARTICULAR AREAS

NAVEL:

• A hard, vented eye patch (sold at pharmacies) can be applied under tight clothing (such as nylon stockings) or secured using a length of Ace® bandage around the body (to avoid irritation from adhesive). This can protect the area from restrictive clothing, excess irritation, and impact during physical activities such as contact sports.

EAR/EAR CARTILAGE AND FACIAL:

• Use the t-shirt trick: Dress your pillow in a large, clean t-shirt and turn it nightly; one clean t-shirt provides four clean surfaces for sleeping.

• Maintain cleanliness of telephones, headphones, eyeglasses, helmets, hats, and anything that contacts the pierced area.

• Use caution when styling your hair and advise your stylist of a new or healing piercing.

NIPPLES:

• The support of a tight cotton shirt or sports bra may provide protection and feel comfortable, especially for sleeping.

GENITAL:

• Genital Piercings—especially Prince Alberts, Ampallangs, and Apadravyas—can bleed freely for the first few days. Be prepared.

• Urinate after using soap to clean any piercing that is near the urethra.

• Wash your hands before touching on (or near) a healing piercing.

• In most cases you can engage in sexual activity as soon as you feel ready, but maintaining hygiene and avoiding trauma are vital; all sexual activities should be gentle during the healing period.

• Use barriers such as condoms, dental dams, and waterproof bandages, etc. to avoid contact with your partners’ body fluids, even in monogamous relationships.

• Use clean, disposable barriers on sex toys.

• Use a new container of water-based lubricant; do not use saliva.

• After sex, an additional saline soak or clean water rinse is suggested.

Each body is unique and healing times vary considerably. If you have any questions, please contact your piercer.

 

Disclaimer

These guidelines are based on a combination of vast professional experience, common sense, research and extensive clinical practice. This is not to be considered a substitute for medical advice from a doctor. If you suspect an infection, seek medical attention. Be aware that many doctors have not received specific training regarding piercing. Your local piercer may be able to refer you to a piercing-friendly medical professional.

Suggested Aftercare Guidelines for Oral Piercings

 

CLEANING SOLUTIONS

Use one or both of the following solutions for inside the mouth:

  • Antimicrobial or antibacterial alcohol-free mouth rinse.

  • Packaged sterile saline solution with no additives (read the label) or non-iodized sea salt mixture: Dissolve 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized (iodine free) sea salt into one cup (8 oz) of warm distilled or bottled water. A stronger mixture is not better. Saline solution that is too strong can irritate your piercing. (If you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, please check with your doctor before using a saline product as your primary cleaning solution.)

(Consult your piercer, the APP website, or call (888) 888-APP for current suggested products.)

CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS FOR INSIDE THE MOUTH

 

Rinse mouth with cleaning solution for 30 seconds after meals and at bedtime (4-5 times daily) during the entire healing period. Cleaning too often or with too strong a rinse can cause discoloration and irritation of your mouth and piercing.

CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE EXTERIOR OF LABRET (CHEEK AND LIP) PIERCINGS

 

Soak in saline solution and/or wash in mild, fragrance-free liquid soap-preferably anti-microbial or germicidal.

  • WASH your hands thoroughly prior to cleaning or touching your piercing for any reason.

  • SALINE soak at least two to three times daily. Simply soak directly in a cup of warm saline solution for five to ten minutes. For certain placements it may be easier to apply using clean gauze saturated with saline solution. A brief rinse afterward will remove any residue.

  • SOAP no more than once or twice a day. While showering, lather up a pearl size drop of the soap to clean the jewelry and the piercing. Leave the cleanser on the piercing no more than thirty seconds.

  • RINSE thoroughly to remove all traces of the soap from the piercing. It is not necessary to rotate the jewelry through the piercing.

  • DRY by gently patting with clean, disposable paper products. Cloth towels can harbor bacteria and snag on jewelry, causing injury.

WHAT IS NORMAL?

 

  • For the first three to five days: significant swelling, light bleeding, bruising, and/or tenderness.

  • After that: Some swelling, light secretion of a whitish yellow fluid (not pus).

  • A piercing may seem healed before the healing process is complete. This is because they heal from the outside in, and although it feels fine, the tissue remains fragile on the inside. Be patient, and keep cleaning throughout the entire healing period.

  • Even healed piercings can shrink or close in minutes after having been there for years! This varies from person to person; if you like your piercing, keep jewelry in-do not leave the hole empty.

WHAT TO DO TO HELP REDUCE SWELLING

  • Allow small pieces of ice to dissolve in the mouth.

  • Take an over the counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium according to package instructions.

  • Don’t speak or move your jewelry more than necessary.

  • Sleep with your head elevated above your heart during the first few nights.

TO MAINTAIN GOOD ORAL HYGIENE

  • Use a new soft-bristled toothbrush and store it in a clean area away from other toothbrushes.

  • Brush your teeth and use your chosen rinse (saline or mouthwash) after every meal.

  • During healing floss daily, and gently brush your teeth, tongue and jewelry. Once healed, brush the jewelry more thoroughly to avoid plaque build up.

TO STAY HEALTHY

  • The healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal.

  • Get enough sleep and eat a nutritious diet.

  • Avoid emotional stress, which can increase healing times by up to 40%.

  • To help healing and bolster your ability to fight infection, take nutritional supplements daily, including iron, B vitamins, 1,000-5,000 mg of vitamin C (divided into a few equal doses throughout the day), and 30 mg of  Zinc for women (50 mg for men).

ORAL PIERCING HINTS AND TIPS

JEWELRY:

  • Once the swelling has subsided, it is vital to replace the original, longer jewelry with a shorter post to avoid intra-oral damagE. You will be given a 50% off coupon by your piercer .

  • Because this necessary jewelry change often occurs during healing, it should be done by a qualified piercer.

  • With clean hands or paper product, be sure to regularly check threaded eneds on your jewelry for tightness (“Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey.”)

  • Carry a clean spare ball in case of loss or breakage.

  • Contact your piercer for a non-metallic jewelry alternative if your metal jewelry must be temporarily removes (such as for a medical procedure).

  • Should you decide you no longer want the piercing, simply remove the jewelry (or have a professional piercer remove it) and continue cleaning the piercing until the hole closes. In most cases only a small mark will remain.

  • In the even an infection is suspected, quality jewelry or an inert alternative should be left in place to allow for drainage or the infection. Should the jewelry be removed, the surface cells can close up sealing the infection inside the piercing channel, resulting in an abcess. Until an infection is cleared up, leave the jewelry in!

EATING:

  • Slowly eat small bites of food placed directly onto your molars.

  • Avoid eating spicy, salty, acidic, or hot temperature foods or beverages for a few days.

  • Cold foods and beverages are soothing and help reduce swelling.

  • Foods like mashed potatoes and oatmeal are hard to eat because they stick to your mouth and jewelry.

  • For tongue piercing, try to keep your tongue level in your mouth as you eat because the jewelry can get between your teeth when your tongue turns.

  • For labret (cheek and lip) piercings: be cautious about opening your mouth too wide as this can result in the jewelry catching on your teeth.

  • Each body is unique and healing times vary considerably. If you have any questions, please contact your piercer.

WHAT TO AVOID

  • Do not play with your jewelry. Long term effects include permanent damage to teeth, gums, and other oral structures. See the APP’s Brochure: Oral Piercing Risks and Safety Measures for more information.

  • Avoid undue trauma; excessive talking or playing with the jewelry during healing can cause the formation of unsightly and uncomfortable scar tissue, migration, and other complications.

  • Avoid using mouthwash containing alcohol. It can irritate the piercing and delay healing.

  • Avoid oral sexual contact including French (wet) kissing or oral sex during healing (even with a long-term partner).

  • Avoid chewing on tobacco, gum, fingernails, pencils, sunglasses, and other foreign objects that could harbor bacteria.

  • Avoid sharing plates, cups, and eating utensils.

  • Avoid smoking! It increases risks and lengthens healing time.

  • Avoid stress and all recreational drug use.

  • Avoid aspirin, alcohol, and large amounts of caffeine as long as you are experiencing bleeding or swelling.

  • Avoid submerging healing piercings in bodies of water such as lakes, pools, etc.

Each body is unique and healing times vary considerably. If you have any questions, please contact your piercer.

DISCLAIMER

These guidelines are based on a combination of vast professional experience, common sense, research and extensive clinical practice. This is not to be considered a substitute for medical advice from a doctor. If you suspect an infection, seek medical attention. Be aware that many doctors have not received specific training regarding piercing. Your local piercer may be able to refer you to a piercing-friendly medical professional.

Oral Piercing Risks & Safety Measures

 

A well-informed and discerning consumer is subject to far fewer dangers than one with incomplete or inaccurate information. When properly performed, the piercing procedure itself takes only a few seconds and involves minimal discomfort and often no blood. Healing is commonly rapid and uneventful.

Most of the concerns about oral piercings center on one of three areas:

  • Fear of an unsafe procedure

  • Potential for damage to teeth and oral structures

  • Risk of infection

These potential hazards are diminished when the following steps are taken.

PIERCER

TO REDUCE THE RISKS OF AN UNSAFE PROCEDURE, YOU MUST FIRST SELECT THE RIGHT PIERCER, ONE WHO:

  • Is trained, skilled, experienced, clean, and professional;

  • Practices safe piercing technique and cross-contamination control;

  • Works in a hygienic environment that conforms to relevant local and/or state regulations;

  • Follows OSHA Blood-borne Pathogens standards;

  • Has all applicable licenses and permits;

  • Spore tests autoclave (sterilizer) regularly and can provide documentation;

  • Uses appropriate sterile instruments and jewelry, and sterile disposable needles;

  • Takes the time to verbally instruct in proper care guidelines and provides written instructions;

  • Is available for follow-up and questions post-piercing, so any developing problems can be resolved before damage occurs.

 

JEWELRY

The potential for intra-oral damage from piercings can be dramatically reduced by wearing appropriate jewelry. Complications may result if the jewelry is inappropriately sized, improperly placed, or poorly manufactured. Things to consider:

  • Jewelry must be the correct style for the anatomy and piercing placement;

  • Jewelry must be accurately sized to the area. The longer jewelry that allows for initial swelling must be replaced with a shorter piece after swelling has dissipated to reduce the chance of harm to the teeth and oral structures.

  • Surgical implant grade jewelry. 316LVM

  • Balls made of polymer rather than metal can be worn on tongue barbells to minimize the risk of damage to the teeth.

  • Check that threaded ends are on securely. Tighten them daily to insure that your jewelry stays in place.

  • Wearing a smaller ball on the underside of the tongue helps to reduce jewelry contact with the sublingual portion of the oral cavity.

  • Playing with oral jewelry is the most frequent cause of tooth and gum damage and should be avoided.

PLACEMENT

Proper placement is absolutely critical for health and comfort.

TRADITIONAL PLACEMENT FOR A TONGUE PIERCING:

  • Along the midline of the tongue, essentially in the center of the mouth;

  • Approximately 3/4″ back from the tip of the tongue;

  • Commonly placed with the top a little further back than the bottom (This allows the top of the jewelry to lean slightly back, away from the teeth, and toward the higher part of the upper palate where there is more room in the mouth);

  • Usually placed just in front of the attachment of the lingual frenulum (web under the tongue).

TRADITIONAL PLACEMENT FOR LIP AND CHEEK PIERCINGS:

  • Should be placed relatively perpendicular so the jewelry does not sit at a sharp angle.

  • Position must be chosen so that the jewelry rests in a neutral spot inside the mouth.

  • Post should be shortened to fit snugly once healing is done to minimize contact of jewelry with the teeth and gums.

  • Cheek piercings should not be placed further back than the first molars to avoid parotid glands and ducts.

  • A strong light can be used to check the selected placement for vascularity and enervation (blood vessels and nerves).

  • A disc backing inside the mouth should not catch on the gums when speaking or eating.

 
AFTERCARE

 

The risk of exposure to infection can be controlled during the piercing procedure by the use of sterile equipment and jewelry and rigorous adherence to aseptic technique. The piercing must be cared for properly to avoid infection during healing.

  • The piercer must provide written and verbal guidelines to thoroughly explain aftercare protocol, including the use of antimicrobial alcohol-free mouth rinses and/or sea salt rinses.

  • Avoid sharing plates, cups, and eating utensils.

  • Use a new soft-bristled toothbrush and keep it clean.

  • Don’t chew gum, tobacco, fingernails, pencils, sunglasses, or other foreign objects that could harbor bacteria.

  • Avoid undue trauma; excessive talking or playing with the jewelry during healing can cause the formation of unsightly and uncomfortable scar tissue, migration, and other complications.

 

WHAT ABOUT SWELLING?

When the piercing is performed properly and approved care guidelines are followed, most piercees experience little or no bleeding and a minimum of swelling for a few days.

  • Allow small pieces of ice to dissolve in the mouth.

  • Take an over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen or naproxen sodium according to package instructions.

  • Sleep with your head elevated above your heart during the first few nights.

ISN’T THE MOUTH DIRTY?

As the main entry portal for material entering the body, the oral cavity is exposed to a variety of toxins, bacteria, and other noxious substances on a near-constant basis. Drinking or eating anything contaminated with disease-causing microbes can potentially cause illness and infection. Breathing air that contains airborne pathogens may lead to other types of systemic disease. How can we maintain health despite this continual microbial assault? The answer lies in the design of the oral cavity and its defensive strategies.

Saliva contains numerous antimicrobial factors that directly attack and deactivate harmful microbes. Among them:

  • Lysozyme

  • Lactoferrin

  • Salivary peroxidase

  • Myleperoxidase

  • Agglutinins

  • Immunoglobulins

Because saliva is produced only within the oral cavity, the mouth is at a distinct advantage over other parts of the body when it comes to warding off infection. The  extremely high turnover rate of oral mucosa makes it one of the fastest healing sites in the body. Oral mucosa maintains its structural integrity through a system of continuous cell renewal in which cells are produced by division, migrate to the surface of the tissue, and replace the cells that are shed. The cellular turnover rate for oral mucosa of the cheek is 25 days compared to 52-75 days for skin. The short healing time of the average oral piercing provides a much smaller window of opportunity for exposure to external infection than many other common piercings. For instance, a tongue piercing usually heals in 6 – 8 weeks, compared to 6 – 9 months or longer for a navel piercing.

The head and neck region houses a highly concentrated system of veins, arteries, and lymph vessels allowing for rapid transportation of anti-infective agents to attack infective agents in a swift manner.

Infection rates for oral piercings are negligible when sterile equipment, proper aseptic protocol, and appropriate jewelry selection are combined with conscientious aftercare. This requires the education of both piercer and piercee to ensure a safe and successful experience.

 

Body Piercing Troubleshooting For You and Your Healthcare Professional

For the Piercee: Choosing a Medical Professional

Medical personnel have tremendous knowledge of the human body but often do not have specific training about this unique form of body art. As a piercee, you may have more information about the suggested care and maintenance of piercings than they do. It is up to you to make certain that your chosen medical professional has access to facts that will facilitate your treatment.
To save yourself from a bad experience, ask the following questions before settling on a doctor or other practitioner. Is this healthcare professional:

  • Accepting of body piercings?

  • Experienced in treating problem piercings?

  • Willing to consult with a trusted expert body piercer, or seek other resources for information about piercing?

For the Piercee: When to See a Doctor

If you experience a problem that is beyond the scope of your piercer, the following facts can assist you and your healthcare provider in decision-making about the best care and treatment.

  • Visit a doctor immediately if you have problems with your piercing and you:

  • Experience severe redness, swelling, or pain from the piercing

  • Have a large amount of discharge that is thick, green, yellow, or gray and smells bad

  • Have red streaks coming from from the piercing site

  • Take steroids or have a chronic illness or other health condition

  • Have symptoms that last for a week or get worse

  • Experience fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or disorientation

For the Piercee and the Medical Professional:

Important Piercing Facts

  • When piercings are properly performed and cared for, complications such as irritation or allergy are far more common than infection.

  • Even momentary removal of jewelry from a piercing can result in rapid closure of the channel, and make reinsertion difficult or impossible.

  • Simply taking out the jewelry may not resolve the problem, and if an infection is present, removal can lead to a more serious problem–the formation of an abscess.

  • Most piercing complications can be handled without the piercing being lost.

  • Changing aftercare and/or jewelry size, style, or material often resolves problems.

Inappropriate Aftercare is One of the Most Common Causes of a Distressed Piercing:
  • Alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Betadine, Hibiclens, harsh soaps, and/or ointment(s) are not appropriate products for the care of a healing ear or body piercing.

  • Over-cleaning and using strong products can irritate piercings and delay healing.

  • Mild, non-iodized sea-salt or normal saline soaks and/or cleaning with a liquid anti-microbial or germicidal soap once or twice a day is suggested for body piercings.*

  • Rinsing with mild non-iodized sea salt and/or antimicrobial or antibacterial alcohol-free mouthwash, 4-5 times a day is suggested for oral piercings.*

Normal Healing Piercings May Have the Following Characteristics:
  • Discoloration: reddish, brownish, pinkish, or purplish; can remain for many months on navel, surface, and other piercings.

  • Swelling/Induration: localized; may be significant with oral piercings such as the lip or tongue, and usually lasts for several days following the initial piercing.

  • Excretion: exudate of interstitial fluid, dead cells, etc. that forms a small amount of crystalline-appearing crust at the openings of the piercing; should not be copious, malodorous, or green.

Ointments are Not Preferred for Topical Treatment of Piercings:
  • They are occlusive and limit oxygen circulation to the area, which can delay healing of this type of wound.

  • They leave a sticky residue that makes cleaning the healing tissue more difficult.

  • If necessary, gels, creams, or other water-soluble products are preferred for topical application.

Migration/Rejection

If the jewelry moves closer to the surface or the tissue gets narrower between the openings of a piercing, this is termed “migration.” If the piercing migrates past a point of remaining viable or comes all the way to the surface, this is termed “rejection.” For safety and longevity, a piercing should have at least 5/16” inch (almost 8 mm) of tissue between the entrance and exit holes.
A body piercing should be abandoned if the tissue between the entry and exit progressively gets smaller or thinner over time plus any of the following:

  • The skin between the openings is flaking or peeling, red or inflamed, and/or hard and calloused-looking

  • There is 1/4” of tissue or less between the openings

  • Just a thin filament of nearly transparent tissue is left, and the jewelry can be seen through the skin

For the Medical Professional: Troubleshooting Piercing Problems

A piercing is a unique type of wound because it is intentional, and healing must take place around a foreign object. This information is intended to familiarize you with piercing complications you might encounter, and the treatments found to be most efficacious.

IN THE EVENT  THAT YOU DIAGNOSE A LOCALIZED PIERCING INFECTION:

  • Important: removing jewelry in the presence of an infection may result in an abscess. Quality body jewelry or a retainer of an appropriate size, style, and material should be left in place so the infection can drain

  • Isotonic saline soaks and/or hot compresses can encourage drainage

  • Bactroban (Mupirocin) cream or gel (not ointment) has been found to be effective for topical treatment of bacterial infections

CONTACT DERMATITIS — METAL ALLERGY OR PRODUCT SENSITIVITY

A skin sensitivity or allergy can be induced by a cleaning product or inferior jewelry that contains too much nickel or other irritating alloy

SYMPTOMS:

  • Red, itchy rash surrounds the piercing or covers a large area (up to several inches away)

  • The opening to the piercing may appear significantly larger than the size of the jewelry

  • Tenderness, though sometimes there is no discomfort

  • Skin eruptions below the piercing (where soap suds run during bathing) clearly demonstrate contact dermatitis caused by a cleaning product

TREATMENT:

  • Topical or oral benadryl or other antihistamine

  • Advise a change to a different jewelry material such as titanium, if nickel sensitivity is suspected, or an approved inert plastic. 

  • Discontinue current care regimen in favor of a milder cleaning product

“LOCALIZED PIERCING PIMPLE”

A single pustule occurs adjacent a piercing—often in a recurrent cycle

SYMPTOMS:

  • Small, slightly elevated pustule

  • Red and inflamed, but contained locally

  • May be tender, itch, or burn, though some are painless

  • Secretes pus and/or blood when drained or popped

TREATMENT:

  • Treat as a minor localized infection

  • Over-the-counter antihistamines can diminish itching and inflammation

  • Warm saline soaks or hot compresses several times daily; these should be continued daily for two weeks after the problem seems resolved

  • Light localized massage may help break up the pocket and prevent it from refilling

  • If recurrences continue, a culture may be needed to identify the invading microorganism so you can prescribe medication to target the problem

HYPERGRANULATION TISSUE

Excess granulation tissue is most common on piercings of navels, nostrils, outer labia, and the mucosal surface of lips–though it may also occur on other piercings

TREATMENT:

  • The same treatments used on infants’ umbilical granulomas may be used for piercing-related hypergranulation tissue: silver nitrate, electrocautery, or liquid nitrogen; a ligature technique can be used if the lesion is pedunculated

  • Some affected piercings do heal successfully, but if the problem proves intractable after treatment, the piercing should be abandoned

COMPOUNDED PROBLEMS:

Any one of the above problems can make additional or secondary problems more likely; i.e. an allergic reaction to a particular jewelry material or care product can make a piercee more vulnerable to secondary infection. Multiple causes are sometimes responsible for complications; i.e. ill-fitting jewelry and poor aftercare. In addition, overall health and stress levels can impact the healing process and should be evaluated and dealt with as a potential cause for piercing complications.

Piercings and X-rays, MRIs, and CAT Scans
  • Metal body jewelry will result in an opaque density on MRI and x-ray, but will not otherwise affect visibility on film

  • Metal body jewelry causes visible interference and should be removed for CAT scans if in the area of examination

  • Nipple piercings are unlikely to obstruct visibility of pathology on thoracic x-rays if both AP (or PA) and lateral views are taken

  • Appropriate body jewelry is non-magnetic, and as such does not need to be removed for MRI procedures unless it is located in the region being examined (use a strong hand-magnet to test)

  • Even momentary removal of jewelry from a piercing can result in amazingly rapid closure of the channel, and make reinsertion difficult or impossible

  • Non-metallic retainers can often be used to safeguard the patency of a piercing; sterile tubing from a catheter needle can be used as an emergency retainer

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