Body Art and Modification
Note: Some of the information on this page and links should be considered adult.
Tongue, 14 gauge, barbell
Nostril x2, 18 gauge, CBRs
Lobe x4, 16 gauge, CBRs
Ear Cartilage x2, 18 gauge, CBRs
Navel x1, 16 gauge, curved barbell
Labret, 18 gauge, labret post
11/24/99 - 11/04/01
[Healing & Stretching Times] [Before Getting Pierced] [Piercing Aftercare] [BodyMod Links] [Circumcision]
Piercing Healing and Stretching Chart
Typical healing times and and a stretching schedule are listed below. These times are estimates.
Before you get a piercing:
- Get together all the aftercare stuff you'll need.
For oral piercings:
- Tom's of Maine mouthwash
- soft (child's) toothbrush
For outer piercings:
- NutriBiotic Non-Soap Cleanser
- sterile saline solution, or sea salt to make your own
- lavender oil (and grape seed oil to dilute it)
- cotton swabs and cotton balls
- for genital piercings, pantyliners
- Make sure you're in good health.
- Don't drink alcohol or take any other drugs for 24 hours before you get pierced.
- If you're getting an oral piercing, take good care of your mouth for a while before you get pierced. Brush, floss, use mouthwash, and if you can, a tongue scraper.
- You may want a friend to come and to be the driver.
First, your professional piercer has the best information on aftercare. Listen to them closely, and follow the instructions religiously! Unless they're greasy piercing-gun using dirty studio types.
Whatever you do: Avoid touching your piercing with unwashed hands! Don't play with it!
Above the Neck
Clean outer facial piercings (ears, nose, eyebrow, etc) with a cleansing solution, using a Q-tip. Some piercers provide or sell various types. Some are better than others; you may be given an "ear care solution" (watered-down isropropyl), which is okay but not the most desirable.
NutriBiotic is the best cleanser for piercings I've ever found, hands down. Dilute it about 50/50 with water when cleaning piercings. You should be able to find it in some grocery stores, health and natural food stores, or on the internet. Look for the original non-scented type.
Don't use hydrogen peroxide as it is too drying and can irritate piercings.
You may also try saline solution (you can find sterile saline solutions in the area of the grocery store with contacts, or you can make your own from sea salt and warm water) to soak your piercing in and use as a rinse. Try not to use regular soap to clean your piercings, as it's too drying. If you do use soap, dilute it 50%.
Don't clean too often, or you may irritate the piercing. Once or twice a day should be enough.
Remove all the "crusty stuff", which is dried blood plasma (lymph), as if it's not cleaned up can cause infection and other ickiness. Don't let it rotate into the delicate new piercing. On piercings that are external (not oral), such as ears, rotate the cleaning solution through the piercing. Clean two to three times daily. Be careful not to do anything that may snag or rip your piercings. Don't play with or move your healing piercings when you are not cleaning them.
For oral piercings, care must be very strict. In oral/external piercings such as labret or cheek piercings, clean the outer part as above for external facial piercings. After any foreign substance (food, drink, smoke, other people's body fluids) enters the mouth, clean, rinse, rinse, rinse the inside of the mouth with a good mouthwash (The best in my opinion is Tom's of Maine. It is gentle and generally fairly easy to find at grocery stores, health food stores, or on the internet. Do NOT use a mouthwash with alcohol in it, like Listerine -- in fact, using that as a regular mouthwash can slough off skin on the inside of your mouth. Ick. Listerine may cause swelling around the piercing, and kills newly formed tissue.).
Rinse after eating, rinse after drinking, rinse after kissing, rinse after every impure thought. Check before eating or going to sleep that balls on barbels are securely screwed on. Do not engage in oral sex for at least six weeks after getting a tongue piercing.
For pain and swelling, take ibuprofen (it is your friend)... also suck on ice.
DO NOT TAKE OUT AN INFECTED TONGUE PIERCING WITHOUT CONSULTING YOUR PIERCER. The piercing allows the infection to escape, taking it out will result in the infection being trapped.
Below the Neck
Use a cleanser (preferably NutriBiotic) to clean nipple, navel and genital piercings twice a day. This can be diluted with water to make it gentler, depending on the kind. The cleaning solution should be thoroughly rotated through the piercing and should be rinsed completely. "Crust" (lymph) should be cleansed away with a Q-tip and saline or cleansing solution. Wear clothes that will be gentle to your piercing... hip hugger pants (especially for navel) or loose dresses, and for nipple piercings, a comfortable bra that will hold the jewelry flat against your breast, or for bralessness, a small strip of medical tape can be used to secure the jewelry flat. Genital piercings tend to heal fast, though there may be quite a bit of blood in your underwear the morning after your piercing. If bleeding is excessive or lasts more than a few days, check with a professional piercer or doctor. For the first week, it is a good idea to wear a pad or pantyliner, for both male and female piercees. Nipple and navel piercings take a long time to heal, compartively.
Other Piercing Care Notes
Saline soaks can be very good for healing or "grumpy" piercings. You can use a soaked cotton ball, or a container of the solution held up to the piercing.
Also, essential lavender oil may help a piercing heal without developing too much keloid scar tissue; dilute pure lavender oil in two parts grape seed oil. Every other day or so, apply a drop to each of the exposed ends of the piercing, and rotate the oil through the piercing. Be sure to clean the excess off afterwards, or it may stain clothing, etc. You should avoid bubble baths and bath salts while healing; however, you can add one or two drops of essential lavender oil to your bath water instead. Excessive use of lavender oil may cause irritation.
Eliminating and Lessening Scar Tissue
Scar tissue sucks, but the fact is, sometimes it happens. A keloid is hard scar tissue. Scar tissue around a piercing may look like a red or slightly off-color bump. There are several things you can do to get rid of those scars.
Massage, massage, massage. Whatever you end up using, massage the scar. This helps break up the scar tissue. Various oils and other products can be used along with the massage to help the break up of scar tissue. Vitamin E oil (you can buy it in jars, or you can buy vitamin E capsules and break them open); some people use Tea Tree oil, but in moderation, or diluted, as it can be quite drying; olive oil; peanut oil; lanolin; or beeswax. For scars in the inside of the mouth, crush unbuffered aspirin on the site for one minute once a day, then rinse. Careful, as oral tissues are delicate.
After-aftercare (After that Piercing is Healed...)
There are many things that can irritate a healed piercing. If your immune system is lowered for any reason (fever from flu or colds, diabetes, immune-deficiency diseases, chemotherapy, stress, etc.) your piercing may "flare up". It may get infected, or behave as if it was a new piercing.
The best you can do is go right back into new-piercing aftercare. Start cleaning religiously again, treat the irritated piercing gently. If the infection doesn't get better or seems to get worse, see your piercer or your doctor. Don't remove the jewelry until you've consulted with one or the other.
Also, for oral piercings, spices, dairy products and other foods may cause a flare up. Irritants from spicy food can get into a tongue piercing and cause it to swell and hurt just like new. Dairy products are chock full of bacteria and can lead to thrush or mild infections. If your tongue acts up, you should go back to rinsing religiously. It's a good idea to rinse well with Tom's of Maine mouthwash after each spicy meal.
Plaque build up on the barbell or ring of a tongue piercing can also cause irritation, so remember to keep them clean. Same with other oral piercings, such as a labret.
There is a type of mouthwash out there called Plax. You use it BEFORE you brush, and it helps loosen plaque. It does have alcohol content, so excessive use is not recommended, as it can cause the delicate tissues of your mouth problems. However, it's nowhere near as strong as Listerine. After your tongue or other oral piercing is completely healed, rinse with Plax every once in a while before brushing. Be sure to brush your jewelry with an extra-soft toothbrush (you'll probably need to buy a child's brush). If your barbell or labret post is fitted (the balls snug against your tongue or skin), you will probably need to take it out to clean it. Otherwise, you can hold the ball with your teeth or a clean hand, and brush the ball/post back and bar with your toothbrush after rinsing with Plax. Do this every couple of days and your barbel will stay spotless. Aside from health reasons for keeping your jewelry clean, it also reduces the chance of bad breath.
Body Mod Links
21st Century Studio of Tattoo *
The Bead Ring
BME (Body Modification E-zine)
BodyMod vs. Self-injury
Christiaan's Piercing Page
Dredd's Piercing and Tattoos
Ed's Hidden Tattoo Page
Genesis of a Tongue-Piercing
Kevin Cooke's BodyMod Resource List
Mehandi... Bodypainting with Henna
Me Pierce Me
Museum of Tattoos
Piercing for Beginners
Proposed Minimum Standards
The RABbit Hole (RAB official homepage)
Rights of Passage: Body Art
Tattoos and Body Art
Tattoos and Body Art Links
* This is where I have gotten all my piercings done, and it's absolutely lovely!!! Clean, professional, relaxing, beautiful. Great artists. I've been pierced by Mark of Desecreations and Jessie the Piercer.
I am against male infant circumcision. It is a useless, unnecessary and painful surgical procedure. I believe no unneccesary body modifications before a person can make an informed and educated lifelong descision (yes, ear piercing too... I believe a twelve year old could get one set of lobe piercings, but that before that the choice should not be made for them, and that more life-affecting bodymods should wait until 18). BTW, I'm female, unmarried and childless, for the record. Some people think you have to be a guy, be married to a guy or have a son to care about this issue. That's not true. Here are a few pages explaining why I feel this way in more detail.
Circumcision Information and Resource Pages
Doctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC)
Info -- Circumcision
Mothers Against Circumcision
National Organization of
Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC)
National Organization of Restoring Men
National Organization to
Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males (NoHarmm)
Nurses for the Rights of the Child