A new piercing can be an exciting way to change your look or scare family members. But to ensure your style doesn’t include a nasty infection, it’s important to take each step cautiously, from when you first get the piercing to when you can’t imagine your nose without it. Check out our guide to safe piercing before you head to the piercer.
Before you go
Know the risks. Tongue piercings, for example, can chip teeth and damage gums, the Mayo Clinic warns, and any piercing that’s not cleaned properly can become infected.
Know your piercer. Different states have different licensing requirements, so check on yours before you go. And as you know, even if your friend swears she’s done tons of piercings before, don’t get pierced in your bathroom.
When you get there
Make sure your piercer is wearing gloves and sterilizes nondisposable equipment like an ear-piercing gun. For non-ear piercings, he or she should use fresh, sterile needles.
Ask for hypoallergenic jewelry made of surgical-grade steel, titanium, niobium, or 14- or 18-karat gold, the Mayo Clinic advises.
After the piercing
In general, ear lobe and tongue piercings take six to eight weeks to heal, while navel and cartilage piercings take around three to eight months to heal. Be sure to follow the cleaning instructions your piercer gives you for that entire period of time. Clean your piercing with saline solution daily, and be careful to clear out soap after a shower.
Because the piercing will heal from the outside in, it may appear healed before it’s completely healed internally, the Association of Professional Piercers says, so keep up your cleaning practices until you no longer see redness, crusting or oozing around the piercing.