Piercing! Heal thyself!

Piercing aftercare has evolved significantly over the time I have been piercing. A number of myths about aftercare have gained prominence in the industry simply because of the democratic nature of the internet. Dispelling these myths, and finding aftercare protocols that actually worked has been an ongoing endeavor at Blackstar.

We have come to realize three basic principals.

1. Healing occurs naturally.

You do not heal your piercing. Nothing you do will heal the piercing. The healing process happens by default, and will proceed no matter what you do or do not do to the piercing.

2. Whatever you do interferes with the natural healing process

Every time you clean your piercing, you damage the new tissue that is forming. Whatever solution or preparation you apply will retard new tissue growth. Every time you move the jewelry, even playing with it, you abrade some of the tissue lining the piercing.

3. Infections usually happen within the first two days

Prevention of infections becomes less important the longer the piercing is in place.

Given these three principals, we now recommend the BLIA (Basically, leave it alone!) philosophy. Aggressive cleaning should never be continued after one week. Good personal hygiene should be sufficient for most piercings, and 2-3 days of an antibiotic ointment should prevent most infections. We are finding that the less invasive piercings (nostril screws, microdermals ...) are best left alone from the start.

Most of the problems we have seen arise from excessive aftercare. Piercing aftercare has become a business venture, generally populated by snake-oil salesmen who do not give a rat's ass if their product actually works (they don't) as long as they can convince you that you should buy it. None of these specialty aftercare products is worth wasting your money on.

What does work? Grab your favorite soap or body wash and have a shower!


I'll agree to most of the above principles but think you might super impose the uniqueness of each individual and their piercings. There are many individual reactions particularaly when one inflicts the more esoteric piercings. Surface to surface are always fraught with 'challenges'. Add a joint or fold factor and the success rate is more difficult. I respect Blackstars counsel that has on occasion said that some piercings have a low success rate. But if one proceeds than we need all the support that is available even if given with a shake of the head. I am currently suffering a certain instability in the groin piercing I celebrate. The instability is in the surrounding skin and the piercings which moves with virtually every leg motion. As you know, the right side is very strong and well stretched. It would be preferable to have the left one back as it make the scene asymetrical otherwise. So how do I support the surrounding tissue, which will in turn stabilize the groin pirecing. Comments???

Preventing unnecessary damage to a piercing during the healing process is important for the success of the piercing. Over-cleaning and excessive mechanical damage from jewelry manipulation are the major culprits in most problems that present themselves.

That being said, some work actually pushes the envelope, and mechanical damage is an ongoing issue. In these cases it is difficult to recommend a single course of action. If the jewelry is heavy, lightening the jewelry is the first step. If the jewelry is large, consider reducing the size of the piece. Preventing movement such as you describe might be accomplished with a support, using a bandage or clothing, but this might actually make the problem worse. You will be the best judge of what works and what doesn't.

The basic principles still apply.

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heidi's picture

I don't really think that piercing heal thyself. Well, that is perhaps the feeling and opinion of you. There's an increasing body of data that bacteria grow resistance with time to the things that kill it - as per drug resistant TB, MRSA, and that's why it may be a good thing the FDA is looking into triclosan. Triclosan, the active component in most antibacterial soaps, is linked to affecting hormone levels, and was already banned by the EU. (Then again, the EU threatened to ban all water that does not come from France or Germany.) Non-antibacterial soaps are proven to be just as effective - so anti-bacterial soaps and overprescribed antibiotics may be causing more issues than they solve, and fighting a MRSA infection will send everyone sprinting for payday advances.

Obviously, you did not read the original post. Nothing you have written here contradicts the original premise.

We try not to have political rants on this site, and would much prefer if the references given were learned, rather than some journalist's hyperbole. Serious research into antibiotics dead-ended about fifty years ago, when the then current wisdom was that we didn't need any more development. Some research has resumed, but we are still using antibiotics which have been in general use since the 1970's, and we are now seeing resistance in several bacterial populations, eg MRSA. These resistant populations have made antibacterial soaps a necessity in personal service environments, in spite of the drawbacks.

The points you make are valid, except you do not appear to understand the underlying causes of the development of antibiotic resistant populations. You seem to think that the bacteria somehow learn to be resistant. Not so! Most bacteria will be killed by a properly used antibiotic. The resistance usually manifests after the antibiotic regimen has been ended prematurely, and the surviving bacteria re-establish themselves.

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