Guest Post: How to be a good piercee

April 11, 2009


(Special thanks to Ms. Phalaeo for her help in putting together this guest post.  The pic above is of Badkitty (as good a piercee as anybody I know) getting a microdermal at Infinite Body Piercing in Philly–Cloud)

How to be a Good Piercee- Interacting with the studio and Piercer

Most literature written about purchasing a service or product focuses on how the establishment should act towards its patrons, not how patrons should act in an establishment. When getting pierced, there are a few actions on your behalf to consider to ensure you not only get a good piercing session, but also so you do not impede the piercer. These are guidelines only, but in my experience have made the ride smoother, a lot more fun, and helps to establish a good relationship with a studio.

Take a shower or bath. Piercing (even of an ear) is an intimate experience, and the piercer will be in close contact with your body. This seems like obvious advice for before a genital piercing, but it should really stand for all piercings. Your piercer may need to bend an ear forward to mark the back so it’s even, they may have their fingers up your nose (with gloves) to feel for the sweet spot for a septum. Most people bathe every day to every other day, so this is not a problem, but be sure to pay special attention to cleaning before going in.

Cell phones should be shut off or set to vibrate, even in the waiting room. At no time should you be on a cell phone when trying to interact with either counter staff or a piercer. There are a few reasons for this, the most obvious one being that a piercing shop can be busy and the person you are interacting with cannot give you their full attention if you are on the phone. If you must call someone to discuss whether to buy the blue or red titanium barbell, you should excuse yourself so the next person can be helped. The second reason is that while piercers as a whole are pretty unflappable, you do not want them to flinch if all of a sudden your cell phone rings just as they’re poking you.

Ask for permission before taking photos or videos including the piercer. Trust me, they know how excited you are, and most are happy to be in your photos and share your experience but it is courtesy to ask when including someone you don’t know in your photos. If they give you permission to take photos of a friend’s piercing, don’t get in the way. Nothing is worse than trying to concentrate on doing the best job possible when you have a camera in your face. The best way to avoid getting in the way is to ask the piercer “Where is the best place for me to stand so I don’t get in the way?”

Another rule of thumb for when you show up with friends is to realize that many piercing rooms do not have enough room to accommodate more than you, the piercer, and one friend comfortably. Most piercers are happy to allow one extra person in the room with you, but do not expect to be able to bring your whole party in.

Don’t even bother showing up drunk. Reputable studios will not pierce you if you’ve been drinking. Firstly, if you are impaired, it is possible that you are not making a decision that you will be happy with in the morning and the studio does not want to be liable for that. Secondly, alcohol can affect how you bleed during a piercing. Just because you are purchasing a service does not mean you have a right to it, and the studio can deny anyone at any time, for whatever reason they want to. Go back tomorrow, when you are sober.

If you are underage and interested in getting pierced, you probably know that a reputable piercer will require parental permission, and may refuse to do certain piercings (such as nipple and genital) even with parental permission. The best way to prepare once you’ve got verbal permission from your parents is to call the shop and tell them what piercing you want. Ask what type of parental permission they need- usually they will require a parent to accompany you. Ask what forms of ID they need to see. I’ve seen too many people get disappointed when they get to the studio all pumped after their parents say yes, only to be turned down because they did not have the right ID. Remember, this is parental permission and accompaniment, not your cool Aunt or your much older looking college buddy. If you are part of a blended family and do not have the same last name as the parent accompanying you (such as your stepfather), ask about that on the phone with the studio when you call.

It is custom [ETA–in the United States] and common courtesy to tip the piercer after the piercing in an amount that you decide. I would say $5-10 is a good range, but if you get a lot done or especially value the piercer’s courtesy, skill and service, you may certainly tip more. Because so many people use credit and debit cards to pay nowadays, it is a good idea to call the studio beforehand and ask if you can put the tip on your card. I’ve lucked out because I rarely carry cash and every studio I’ve been to has allowed me to tip on my card. Some studios require you pay before hand, some after. If you pay beforehand and you have put a tip on your card it is not out of line to casually mention at the end that you have put a tip on your card.

Special thanks to John Lopez (Piercer at Carl Hanes Tattoo Parlor in Eureka, CA) for his invaluable insight and for proofreading this entry.


On the Younger Side Part 3: For Teens

March 22, 2009

Disclaimer:  I’m not a teen! And who wants unsolicited advice, anyway?  There’s a reason why Charlie Brown’s adults go, “WahWahWah” and you mostly see the grownups’ feet in E.T.

How Do I Convince My Parents to Let Me Get a Piercing?

Good question. And, unfortunately, I don’t know the answer.  As always, though, I do have a few thoughts on the subject.

My suggestions:

  • First, read How to Make Friends and Influence People,  by Dale Carnegie (Link to Google Book).  You can find it at any library.  Despite the cheesy title and dated anecdotes, the information and advice in that book is priceless.  I’m serious!
  • Try to negotiate with your parents, and be prepared to compromise.  Be calm.  Don’t whine.
  • Do your research, and present them with facts about piercings.  Be ready to answer their questions and counter their arguments.  Print out the FAQs  or the Piercee’s Bill of Rights from the Association of Professional Piercer’s website.
  • Show your parents you can be trusted with other stuff, and they’ll be more likely to trust you with this.
  • Use this time to plan, to ask questions.  There are several good discussion forums about piercings where the people will take the time to encourage you and respond to your concerns.  Learn about proper aftercare so you don’t get suckered by inappropriate recommendations from well-meaning friends or less-informed piercers.   Take a look at the resources on this site, or leave a comment here.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, back off and try again later.  Be patient.  Your body will survive without extra holes for a little while longer!.

Sadly, there will be parents who will never agree.  Some parents can be persuaded, others never will–too stubborn, too prideful, too religious, or just opposed.  Body piercing is not for everyone, and there are always people who react with revulsion or disgust no matter how old you are.

In fact, body piercing may not be for you, either,  so take some time to think about who you are and what your lifestyle is and will be.  Don’t be like the girl in Part 2 who stretched her ears at age 13, only to need surgery later when she wanted to enter the Air Force; or the young guy who had always wanted to be a fireman, only to be told he was disqualified because of his ear piercings.


Some things to consider:

The key to getting a good piercing is to find the best, most experienced professional piercer you have access to.  Don’t settle for just anyone at the first tattoo studio you walk in to.  Reputable professional piercers will not pierce you without a parent’s permission, and will never pierce a minor’s nipples or genitals.

Who is going to pay for your piercing? Save some money or earn some extra cash so you can show your parents you are serious. Don’t use this an excuse to self pierce.  Who will pay for medical care if your piercing gets infected?

Good jewelry is not cheap, and you may need more than one piece.You should buy the best quality jewelry you can afford for your initial jewelry.  It isn’t cheap, but good quality jewelry makes a difference.  Implant grade stainless steel or titanium will protect you against most skin sensitivities.  Well-made jewelry is also highly polished and free from irregularities that could trap bacteria, and internally threaded and well-machined, well-fitting ends mean fewer lost balls and beads.

Don’t touch it; don’t play with it; and don’t change the jewelry too soon.  Leave the initial jewelry in as long as you can.  Just do sea salt soaks and keep it clean.  Never touch your piercing with dirty hands!

Don’t count on hiding it from your parents, your school, your coach, etc.  You need to keep the metal jewelry in there as long as possible while it’s healing, and even clear retainers are visible.  Taking it out and putting piercings back in for an activity, like sports, isn’t recommended either–that will only irritate the piercing and keep it from healing well.

What if I can’t get their permission?

If you can’t convince your parents, then your alternative is to wait until you are 18 or the age of majority in your location.

Please don’t pierce yourself!

It’s unsafe, because you don’t have the equipment to sterilize anything; you don’t have the knowledge or experience to get a good piercing, not to mention the awkwardness of trying to pierce yourself in a mirror, without leverage, or a good vantage point.  For more on this, here’ s my post on self-piercing.

When you at last own the rights to your own body, you can treat your piercing as a rite of passage. Make it mean something to you, and come out the other side a different person. Just know that parental disapproval (and concern) never goes away, even when you are adult, so you may be trying to hide that jewelry from grandma at age 30.  Some people will never understand.


This is the last in a series of posts on piercings by age group.  Here’s the list of the others:

Teens and Piercings: How to Avoid the Worst Case Scenario

On the Younger Side Part 1: Babies

Too Old for a Piercing?

And, for fun:  How to Sound Like the Charlie Brown Adults from Wikihow.

Thanks to mod complex at Flickr for the lip piercing pic.

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Teens and Piercings: How to Avoid the Worse-Case Scenario

March 21, 2009

On the Younger Side Part 2: For Parents

Jessica Bitner stretched her ear lobe piercings to about an inch when she was 13 years old.  Now she wants to join the the Air Force.  Oops.

She says now, “I love them, but when you get serious about your life, you can’t do stuff like that.”  Here’s a video from a CBS news story, about her plastic surgery to reconstruct her stretched lobes:

As unfortunate as this story is (and I can’t help but think how much her parents are paying for this surgery), this isn’t the worst-case scenario when it comes to teens and piercings.  That would be reserved for botched self-piercings, infected, neglected piercings, and family-come-to-blows piercings.

I love piercings; I think that’s very evident.  I can still remember (in the dim reaches of pre-history) wanting my ears pierced so very, very badly.  I begged my parents for years until they finally relented at age 15.  Not only did my Dad think it was “mutilation,” but there was a social stigma attached to ear piercing at that time.  My mother, in particular, regarded it as a low-class practice which only Catholics indulged in (and she did not like Catholics!)

Nevertheless, I don’t like to see very young people permanently alter their bodies with large piercings, like the young lady in the video, or with visible tattoos before they know for certain what their path in life is.

Most of the information you will find about teens and piercings is of the sort I term “health class” information, i.e., piercings are bad, piercings are a fad they will grow out of, teens are just rebellious.  This kind of information, and there are several books about it, is not what I’m offering here, because I’m not part of the PTA, a health care worker, or anything else like that, and again, I love piercings.


For Parents

Note: It’s  not my intention to tell anyone how to raise their own children.  Just like with the babies’ post, if you are a parent, I encourage you to do your own research and make up your own mind about what is appropriate for you and your family.  The following represents only my own personal opinion.  (And a further note:  if you have babies or very young children, you can read my post about them here.)

If you are lucky, your son or daughter has come to you asking for permission to get a piercing; say, a nostril piercing or a navel.  You may think piercings are a stupid teen fad, are gross, unsanitary, or will just mar your precious little baby’s body.  Whether or not this describes you, I urge you to consider your response carefully. You do not want your child to go behind your back and pierce himself, or to a friend or non-reputable piercer who pierces in an unsafe manner, which is what may happen if you are unlucky, or your attitude makes you unapproachable.

Some things for you to consider:

  • Acknowledge that it’s normal for teens to want to be different than their parents and that they will experiment with style.  Relax and let them express themselves.
  • Most piercings can be removed with no more permanent consequences than a small hole, scar, or divot.  (Large gauge piercings or stretched piercings are another story.)
  • It’s true that piercings have more inherent risks than changing hairstyles or clothes, but with a little bit of knowledge, these risks can be minimized.
  • Lobe piercings heal quickly and are fairly forgiving of mistreatment.  This is NOT the case with most body piercings, including cartilage and navel piercings. These piercings can take many months to heal all the way through.
  • Piercings need regular cleaning and care throughout their existence.
  • If you are presented with a fait accompli, and your progeny shows up with a lip ring or eyebrow piercing, or something similar, watch for signs of infection.  Keep in mind that removing jewelry completely from an infected piercing isn’t a good idea, because it can trap the infection underneath the skin with no place to drain, creating an abcess.

Is your kid ready for a piercing?

Is it something they want and are willing to care for?  If they are considering any other piercing than lobes, they must be capable and willing to engage in an appropriate aftercare routine.   This means regular cleaning and soaking for the first few weeks, and maintenance care thereafter.  If your kid keeps up with routine hygiene tasks without being nagged, like brushing their teeth, cleaning their ears, keeping fingernails clean, and bathing regularly, they can probably be trusted to care for a piercing.  Take a look at the picture below:


I like this picture of a Japanese Cosplay girl, but almost didn’t use it, because a close up look shows that the piercings are not clean.  (You can get a closer look at  theeruditefrog’s Photostream at Flickr.)  Although I don’t think piercings are disgusting, of course, I do think uncared for, unclean piercings are! Piercees, no matter what their ages, need to be meticulous about their personal hygiene and clean their piercings regularly.  Can your child be counted on to do this?

They must also have enough self-discipline and patience to Leave It The Heck Alone.  This means not touching it (especially with dirty hands!); not messing with or playing with it; and not changing the jewelry too soon!

Some Practical Advice:

DO NOT LET YOUR CHILD GET PIERCED WITH A PIERCING GUN. Just don’t–it’s not safe.  Those things were created for tagging cattle–they inflict blunt force trauma on the wound, the design of the jewelry traps bacteria near the wound, and most of all, the piercings gun can not be sterilized.  Even if they have “single use” cartridges, the plastic part of the gun itself cannot be sterilized and is often just thrown into a drawer.  Go to a professional piercer! A reputable, professional piercer will only pierce a minor with parental consent and presence.  Yes, this means venturing out of your comfort zone and actually entering a tattoo or piercing studio.  It can be intimidating, but you can do it!

Use the carrot and stick approach.  Negotiate with your child for positive behaviors and use a piercing as a reward.  Realize that all  people want control over their lives and their bodies, and you are empowering your teen by allowing them to have control over their bodies.

Proper jewelry for healing piercings is not cheap.  Buy good quality jewelry from a reputable piercer for starting jewelry.  The jewelry that a teen can buy at the mall, at Hot Topic for example, is not good quality and should only be used after initial healing is completed.  (I wouldn’t use it even then, but I’m trying to be realistic here.)  Understand that sometimes jewelry needs to be adjusted for proper fit and healing, and that may mean another trip to the piercer, and another piece of jewelry.  Accordingly;

Discuss money issues with your teen. Let them save money from their allowance or earn their own money for the piercing. One of the main excuses for kids to pierce themselves is they have no money for a proper piercer and jewelry. Unfortunately, a trip to the emergency room for an infected piercing costs far more.

Do your research about piercings, and encourage your son or daughter to do likewise.  The single most important thing to do to ensure a successful piercing experience is to educate yourself.  Check out the Body Piercing Basics, resources, books and refs, and links on this blog.  At a minimum, review the info on choosing a piercer and Piercee’s Bill of Rights posted by the Association of Professional Piercers.

Pretty much all that is needed for aftercare is sea salt and mild soap.  Hygiene is key! Do not let your child put stuff on it–no ointment, hydrogen peroxide, “ear care solution,” or, heaven forbid–Bactine!

It’s normal for a new piercing to be swollen, irritated, or red. You have to keep close watch for signs of infection, however, which requires diagnosis and treatment by a physician.

And finally try to relax about it!  The majority of teens who get into piercing do actually grow out of it.  On the other hand, some of us never do . . .

Yes, there will be a part 3 to this “Piercings On the Younger Side” series, for the teens. Pic above is from Shekynah’s Photostream at Flickr.  I don’t know how old she is, but I just chose that one ’cause she’s pretty!

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On the younger side: Part 1–Babies

March 4, 2009
Little Cloud

Little Cloud

If no one is too old for a piercing, how about the younger folk?

Since I did a post on older people and piercings, I am now going to address the younger side.  The issue of young people and piercings is a sensitive one.  Cultural mores and parental feelings come into play.  If you are a parent facing this situation, do your own research and choose among your options based on your own common sense and family values.  Let’s  talk about the very little ones first, and then move on to the teenagers.

The Dilemma:  Piercing Babies’ Ears

Little girls look pretty cute with or without earrings, but many parents like the look and want to get their babies ears pierced.  Sometimes it’s a cultural thing; I can tell you that in my town, which is 85% Mexican-American, almost every little girl’s ears are pierced as an infant, frequently at home.  If a mother tries to buck this custom, older female relatives pressure her into getting it done.  It’s pretty hard to fight this kind of cultural standard.  However, there are problems with getting babies and very young kids’ ears pierced, among them:

The placement may not be right. As a child grows, the ears may change shape, leaving that piercing that was done at birth too low or otherwise misplaced for the rest of their lives.

Whose body is it? An infant or small child has no say in what is being done to their body.  What if they grow up and decide they’re not into jewelry, or don’t like the look?  Too late!

Care issues: Obviously, small children cannot care for their piercings themselves, and don’t understand how not to touch it with dirty hands.  The chance of infection is therefore increased.  The picture above is of one of my little grandbaby Clouds (I have six!), who landed in the hospital with severe cellulitis–an infection of the cells and lymph glands in her neck.  Although we don’t know for sure, it may have been caused by an irritated ear piercing which became infected after a jewelry change.

Who is going to do it? This is the real dilemma.  Many professional piercers will not pierce small children’s ears for the reasons listed above.  They feel that they cannot guarantee a pleasing placement, and that a person should be able to consent to such a procedure.  For example, Evolution Body Piercing in Albuquerque has a policy that a minor “must be old enough to read and complete the consent form.”  (Read Evolution’s policies here.)

Basically, a parent who wishes to get a baby’s ears pierced has 3 choices, if they cannot find a professional piercer who will agree to do it:

  1. Do it yourself
  2. Get it done at the mall with a gun
  3. Have a doctor do it (but they do it with a gun anyway)

None of these choices are very good ones, to my way of thinking.  In particular, piercing guns are poor choices for any piercing.  Contrary to what you may think, those places at the mall are not clean, the clerks are not trained well, and the guns cannot be sterilized.  Would you be willing to expose your baby to hepatitis for the sake of a couple of ornaments?  The Association of Professional Piercers says that  “piercing guns are NEVER appropriate, and are often dangerous, when used on anything–including earlobes.” (The APP’s position on stud guns can be found here.)

Here’s where you, as parents, have to weigh the options carefully against your child’s long-term health and happiness.  Waiting until they are older may be the best choice of all.

Next post will be about the big kids and young teenagers, which is a whole ‘nother story!

A Hygiene Sampler

February 16, 2009

sampler-2932479802_56f5f60b7d_mNo, not that kind of sampler.

Here’s a sampling of hygiene tips, because keeping yourself and your piercing clean is so important.  In particular, the number one rule about piercings and hygiene is:

Don’t touch your piercing with dirty hands!

Imagine the frustration of professional piercers who put so much effort into proper sterilization techniques and procedures, carefully explain aftercare to their clients, including the importance of proper hygiene and the need to keep it clean, only to find out that the piercing has been FUBAR’D by the piercee playing with it and touching it with dirty hands.  So, here’s:

Tip 1:  Wash Your Hands

The Center for Disease Control says:

Scientists estimate that people are not washing their hands often or well enough and may transmit up to 80% of all infections by their hands.  From doorknobs to animals to food, harmful germs can live on almost everything.  Handwashing may be your single most important act to help stop the spread of infection and stay healthy.

Here’s a nice little video from the CDC on how to wash your hands.  I particularly like how they show the little green germs spreading through contact.  Creepy! and I bet if you show this video to your kids, they will “get it” and be more diligent about their handwashing.

Tip 2:  For the guys

Here’s one specifically for guys with healing genital piercings.  Remember to wash your hands before urinating (as well as after) while your wound is still fresh.  If you touch your penis with dirty hands, well . . . those little green germs might get on there and you will have an infected wang.  Not good!

Tip 3: More about urinating

So, here’s a tip learned from postpartum procedures at the hospital.  After childbirth, they give you a little squeeze bottle and they tell you to fill it with water, and use it while urinating to lessen the sting.  Same goes for piercings, particularly female hood and labia piercings, or any others which the urine stream can splash on.  Use the squeeze bottle, or just pour some water over the area while urinating to dilute the stream.  Keeping well hydrated can also dilute the acidity in the urine, and make it less painful.

So there you have it, a few little clean hands clean willies clean kitties smorgasboard of hygiene and healing!

ETA:  Whoops! Forgot to credit the sampler photo to SDCDeaCerte’s Photostream at Flickr.

Body Piercing Aftercare in Detail-Pt. 1

January 15, 2009


Good health + good hygiene + sea salt soaks + time. That’s pretty much it when it comes to caring for your body piercings.

Gone are the days when vigorous washing with harsh chemicals was recommended.  Trial and error have proved that gentleness, the simplest of care, and Leaving It The Hell Alone are best, assuming there are no issues with jewelry placement, allergies, etc.   I’m going to do a series which explains aftercare in detail, including posts on soap and salt.     If you’ve forgotten the aftercare your piercer (was supposed) to give you, here’s the least you need to know.

Step 1: Your body does the healing, so be healthy!  Support your immune system and whole body, which is trying to heal a wound and build new skin, by resting, eating nutritiously, taking vitamins, and avoiding excess drugs, alcohol, and especially for oral piercings, smoking.

Step 2: Protect your piercing.  By  “protect” I mean protecting it from the environment, from germs, and from trauma.  Keep it covered and out of the way if possible, don’t let clothes rub or put pressure on it, and be aware of your surroundings and things like babies, towels, and seat belts.  Protect your piercing from germs, by being scrupulous about your personal hygiene and the cleanliness of your piercing. Which leads me to the following step:

Step 3: Try a little hydrotherapy.  Hot soaks with sea salt and/or herbs, hot and cold wet compresses, and simply letting water run over it in the shower will do wonders for your piercing.  (Here’s how to do sea salt soaks.)

Step 4: Apply time and patience.  See Step #1 above.  Don’t panic!  Piercings typically go through ups and downs during the healing process.  If you have an issue with your piercing, seek expert help for troubleshooting.  Your issue may go away with a simple change of jewelry.

See how easy it is?   I’m going to discuss bare bones aftercare, and also a few extras that I do, like herbs and oil.

Keep in mind that views on proper aftercare procedure vary, and this is just my opinion.  Your piercer is your first resource when it comes to piercing advice, and you should listen to your body, trust your instincts, and work out what is best for you.

Do you like my mermaid? She’s supposed to represent cleansing, hydrotherapy and sea salt soaks.  And in color, just for my friend, Bob!

Tough love: The stages of healing

January 10, 2009

Just how long is the healing period for a piercing, anyway?

Well, you often hear ranges for specific piercings, say, 6-9 months for a navel piercing, or 4-6 weeks for a tongue piercing.  But these numbers really mean very little–different piercers or websites will have different figures; and they don’t tell the whole story, anyway.   Understanding how your piercing heals will help you customize your aftercare and know when it’s healed enough to change the jewelry.

Remember that piercings heal from the outside in: that is, new skin cells form at the outside of the flesh tunnel, where the piercing holes are, and slowly creep down the tunnel until it’s covered. A piercing is healed when it’s not red, sore, bleeding, or exuding lymph, and has generally calmed down after the recommended healing time. Piercing holes should have a smooth, donut-hole-like rim.

There are three stages of healing a body piercing:  The relatively short “open wound” stage; the longer secondary healing stage; and finally, the healed piercing.

Stage 1

Stage 1

Stage 1: For the first week, or few weeks depending upon the piercing, your piercing is a fresh wound, so treat it as such.  Bleeding, redness, soreness, and discharge are all common.  It may itch at this stage, or it may just be sore.  Be extra careful to guard against infection at this stage.   Regular soaking and showering are suggested.

Stage 2

Stage 2

Stage 2: This is where the main healing takes place, and represents a time period of anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on your piercing, your health, and other variables.  (Sorry for the crappy drawing–I hope that’s clear.)

It’s also the stage at which “crusties” tend to occur.  Your healing wound (i.e., your piercing) will exude and expel dead skin cells and lymph cells or plasma.  If left in place, it will dry to a whitish, crusty, or crystalline substance on your jewelry, where it may attract bacteria or get dragged through your piercing.   Sea salt soaks are the best thing to draw out this exudate and keep your piercing free of foreign matter.  Itching and soreness are common, especially at first, and flare-ups or irritation are also likely as it continues to heal.  Still, you should see overall improvement until it looks healed by the end of the period, and it’s possible to change the jewelry at this point if you’re gentle.

But stop! Just because it looks healed from the outside, does that mean it’s really healed all the way?

Stage 3

Stage 3

Probably not–remember, skin cells may still be forming on the inside, where you can’t see them.  Even when your flesh tunnel is covered with new skin cells, or epithelials, they are still new and weak, easily damaged with jewelry changes (especially with externally threaded jewelry) or rough treatment.

Stage 3: There’s a final stage, the toughening stage, which often gets short shrift in the initial concern (okay, fine:  paranoia) over our piercings.  This is the stage where the skin cells become smooth and tough,the inside of the channel is sealed, the jewelry moves easily through the piercing (usually), and changes of jewelry don’t bother it (usually).  This takes time!

If you want to use your piercings for rough body play, hang weights from them, wear nipple shields or dangly jewelry–wait until they are fully healed and toughened up.  And I’m talking possibly a year or two, maybe, depending on the body part.

Be gentle with them and give them the time they need with your jewelry in place.  Go sloooowly with stretches! The rule of thumb that I’ve heard is to wait three times as long as the initial healing period between each stretch.  Let your piercing toughen up between so there are no rips or tears.

Some piercings will continue to get crusty through their lives and still be well-healed (notably, nipples); others may just exude sebum, a smelly skin wax.  All piercings, when healed, still need regular cleaning with soap and water as part of a piercee’s routine.

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