Even the cleanest skin is a breeding ground for bacteria, and perspiration, even in imperceptible amounts, is continually washing bacteria down your torso across your waistline. For this reason, your navel is always being exposed to fresh bacteria, and cleaning of your piercing is critical to successful healing. With diligent aftercare, your navel usually heals with few problems; with improper aftercare an infection is practically guaranteed.
To clean your navel piercing, use a liquid or glycerin-based soap, such as SoftSoap, work up a good lather and apply it to the area. Gently work the soap and water lather through the piercing by rotating the ring through the piercing back and forth about 1/2 dozen times. Rinse the soap out of the piercing by turning fresh warm water through the piercing in the same manner. In the shower is usually the easiest place to clean your new piercing. Pat the area dry and apply an antibiotic ointment, such as Polysporin or Neosporin (make sure it is the ointment) to the ring and work it through the piercing. When it glides easily, remove the excess ointment as it dries out and causes crusties. This whole process should take only a few minutes.
For the first two (2) days, clean the piercing twice a day, morning and night. Then begin to gradually wean off the cleanings, what we like to call getting lazy, by skipping random cleanings. By the eighth (8th) day, you should be down to once a day. Continue getting lazy, so that by the time 2 weeks have passed, you have completed the cleanings. At this point, do not turn the ring at all, not even when you are in the shower.
*Antibiotic ointment should be used only for the first two (2) days after using the soap and water. It is not necessary after the first 48 hours and will not heal your piercing for you, nor is it strong enough to treat an infection.
Overcleaning can be a serious problem. More is not better. It can irritate and dry out the tissues supporting the jewelry. Symptoms of overcleaning are most commonly redness, dry skin (whiteness), and itchiness. In the worst case scenario, the tissues can breakdown causing the jewelry to literally move right out of the body. DO NOT GET OBSESSED with cleaning.
If the margins of your piercing look dry, back off the cleaning a little sooner, and feel free to moisturize the tissues surrounding the piercing. Try to avoid anything that causes pressure. Above all, DO NOT TOUCH your piercing unless it is absolutely necessary and you have clean hands.
For a detailed explanation of the healing protocols for all piercings, download our Piercing Aftercare Manual.
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