The Soapbox

December 9, 2009

Soap Delay

As I mentioned in my post on soap, The Dope on Soap, two antimicrobial soaps made specifically for wound care, Provon and Satin, are often recommended for fresh piercings.  However, Care Tech, the maker of Satin, was ordered to suspend shipping by the FDA while they investigate unauthorized claims.

“The FDA is concerned about Care-Tech’s products because they lack FDA approval, do not conform to any applicable over-the-counter drug monograph, and are not appropriately manufactured.”

Here’s the link to the FDA press release.

In addition, I’ve heard from more than one source that Provon’s manufacturers may be behind in their supply and distribution, so while these situations are no doubt temporary, if you can get your hands on Provon or Satin at your piercing studio or elsewhere, grab ’em!

Meta, Pics & Flicks

Flickr: I’m slowly uploading all my piercing pics to my Flickr Photostream.  I don’t want to upload all of them at once, because the Flickr strip on the blog changes as I upload, and I want a variety for you.

Delicious: Also, I’m working  on moving my bodymod links to my Cloudlb delicious bookmarks account to post all of the links there. In a similar vein as the Flickr pics, they show up on the sidebar as I post them, and there are a lot of them, so keep an eye out for new ones as time goes on. If you have a delicious account, you can add me to your network to get them that way, too.

7000 Years of Jewelry

I’m so excited!  I got this wonderful book — and got a really great bargain on ebay — about the history of jewelry.  It looks to have some great information on body jewelry in history which I hope to share with you once I digest it.  Here’s the link to the Amazon page of the book.

Midnight Baby!

And finally, Welcome to GrandBabyCloud No. 8! BD#2 in Portland had a little girl this morning at midnight.  At home, with a midwife, and in the birthing tub.  Oy.  No name yet, no pics or anything so far, but we are so happy!



Prick Fixx

May 16, 2009


No, it’s not a new kind of Viagra.  It’s a body piercing aftercare wipe.

I’m pretty skeptical about piercing aftercare products.  I really haven’t come across anything better than sea salt soaks, a good skin-friendly oil, and good health.  Nevertheless, I’m always  looking out for us pierced consumers, so when I was looking for some pure sea salt to buy (and didn’t find it) I decided to try this stuff out.  It’s distributed by P2inc. at


They come in packages of 30 single-use wipes for $8.95 at Steel Navel, which isn’t too bad.

There’s not much info on the package, and the directions are a little odd.  They say to apply “as needed” and to contact your piercing professional, and to use only as directed.  Pretty vague. I suppose you really don’t need much direction for a wipe, but it doesn’t mention any rinsing.  I guess you’re just supposed to leave any salt residue behind on your skin.  It contains Water, Coral-Reef Sea Salt, Yucca Glauca Root Extract, and Cetyl Pyridinium Chloride.


As far as I can tell, the idea behind piercing aftercare sprays and applications is to remove crusties for cleanliness, which makes them a fine convenience product. I tried these on my nipple piercing which has been crusting a lot recently, and–they worked.  That is, they removed the crusties.

But then I noticed that my nipple was actually irritated.  These wipes wouldn’t do a thing for that.  So I got out my dwindling supply of pure sea salt and soaked.  Heat and immersion in the saline solution do a far better job  in caring for a piercing than any spray  or wipe could do.

I think these products, and there are others, the most heavily-advertised of which is H2Ocean, are mostly good for making their inventors money. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (smirk), but be a smart pierced consumer!


Aftercare for anchors

March 3, 2009


Whatever you call these piercings,* whether “microdermals,” “dermal anchors,” “surface anchors” or  “single point piercings,” they are a slightly different animal than traditional piercings.

(ETA:  this shot is supposed to be of the anchor–not the boobs! Darn things always get in the way!)

Here’s an aftercare tip for these:

For regular piercings, I believe immersion methods of soaking offer the most benefit, which is one reason I don’t like proprietary aftercare sprays.   (Here’s my post on how to do sea salt soaks.)

However, because single point piercings do not have a tunnel, with two exit points which would allow for easy draining, try a compress. A sterile gauze pad which has been soaked in your sea salt solution, applied with a bit of pressure, can help expel any fluid or detritus caught in the piercing better than soaking with a cup. Thanks to John Lopez for this tip. (He gives me so much good stuff!) Another one of my friends uses chamomile tea bags, moistened in hot water, for compresses and loves their soothing effect.  Do this only when needed, and otherwise, Leave It The Hell Alone.

Don’t call ’em “dermals.”

*A note on terminology.  Piercing terminology is a bitch, fractious and confusing, but in this case, the industry is trying to get away from any description which has “dermal” in it, as being too “medical.”  Piercers are not medical practitioners, and have to be careful not to overstep the bounds of unauthorized practice of medicine.  So call ’em surface anchors or single point piercings.

Guide to Getting it On

February 10, 2009

419pos80h8l_sl160_aa115_The Guide to Getting it On:  For Adults of All Ages

By: Paul Joannides, Psy.D.

If you’re looking for a good sex manual, this is it.  This hefty tome (992 pages!) really does cover “everything you ever wanted to know about sex.”  And some you didn’t.

It’s now in the 6th edition, and just keeps getting bigger.  Written in a wry, smart, and appealing style, with line drawings throughout, it covers a wide range of sexual activities and related topics, such as birth control, circumcision, explaining sex to kids, men’s underwear, and sexual health in general.  It’s got some really great chapters, and information, and some really strange ones; e.g., Barbie the Icon. It’s basically a compilation of every fact (or theory) about sex out there from a variety of sources (without attributing the sources), and the author is not shy about expressing his own opinion.  Therein lies both the book’s strength and weaknesses.  It baldly states that “vanilla is the Guide’s favorite flavor,” so although very comprehensive, useful, and interesting to read, it has to be said that the content on piercings,  bondage, kink, et al. is rather weak.  Plus, the book uses the pseudo-word, “vajayjay” which I loathe!


Among the tidbits for Pierced Consumers:

In a section addressing painful intercourse, it says: “One of the top experts on vulvar pain recommends using fresh olive oil for lube.  Almond oil and grape seed oil are also on some physician’s lists.”  So, you can use up that leftover oil for piercing aftercare.

There’s a whole section on soap for feminine hygiene, something that concerns many piercees, in the chapter about “Vulva Care–Keeping Your Kitty Happy.”  It’s a dilemma:  You want to be clean, but you don’t want to use a lot of perfumy soaps that could mess up the balance down there.  The need to keep piercings clean, both during the healing stage, and during the life of the piercing, leaves some girls scratching their heads over what soap to use and how to clean their piercings.  Here’s what the Guide states:

Do not overclean the puss.  It only needs soap once a day at the most.  . . .

Do not use liquid body gels or cheap washes because it’s “‘basically like douching with those chemicals.” . . .

Let’s say your kitty is a persnickity little puss who doesn’t like soap every day.  Unless your gynecologist says something to the contrary, you should still clean her with water.  Part of the reason for her not doing well with soap might be the kind you are using.  Consider trying a high-quality, low-pH soap like SebaMed between your legs.  Your vulva and vagina are a bit acidic, with a pH of around 5.2.  However, most bar soaps are alkaline, with a pH of 10 or higher.  Some women who have struggled with vaginal infections swear by the lower-pH soaps. . . .

Avoid Run-Off from Above:  Shampoos tend to be h arsh and perfumy.  Make sure the shampoo and conditioner don’t stream between your legs and through the lips of your vulva when you are rinsing them from your hair.

It goes on to say not to use powders, lotions, or feminine hygiene sprays. I agree that piercees should look for a product that works well for them, and it’s worth looking at the pH level.   Male piercees don’t seem to have the problems with soap that females do, so there doesn’t seem to be a corresponding washing section.  Read my post on aftercare and soap here.


And the chapter on piercings:

Nestled between “Rape and Abuse” and “Threesomes” is “On Needles and Pins:  Piercings, Tattoos, & Sex,” the chapter on piercings and tattoos.  In keeping with current trends, this chapter is greatly expanded in this edition.  Most of the info in the chapter is pretty good, but as an experienced piercee, I do have some serious issues with it.  The author, Paul Joannides, is a nice guy with whom I’ve interacted a little bit on another forum where I recommended his book.  Fine.  However, the author obviously is not pierced himself, and it’s very apparent that all the information comes from third party sources.  That’s okay–no one could possibly expect one person to have first-hand knowledge of ALL the sex stuff in the book.   What I don’t like however, is the negative and somewhat uninformed attitude of the Guide.  For instance, the book implies that only students get pierced and emphasizes the risks.  There are risks associated with piercing, of course, and it is responsible to address them.  However, I would have anticipated that a writer about sex, no matter how vanilla, would be more open minded than to say:  “if nature wanted you to have extra holes through your nipples or between your legs, she would have put them there. ”

The second jarring note is the vocabulary and sloppy editing.  Several of the terms used took me aback.  Now, piercing terminology is tricky, but the book uses the term, “AP” for an apadravya which I haven’t come across in common usage, and also refers to a “magic cross,” a term for a penis pierced with both an apadravya and an ampallang.  Haven’t heard of that one, either, but it’s in the BME Encyclopedia, so what the hell.  “Ring tossing” — apparently a term for dislodging a diaphragm with a piercing during intercourse–isn’t, though.   One section quotes an experience on BME and appears to confuse which piercing it refers to.  Further, there are aggravating misspellings, the most serious of which is “naval” for “navel” throughout that section!  (And we hate that, don’t we?)

It really tries, I think, but there’s such a mix of good and bad (or maybe, less-than-good) information, so I’m left wanting.   It’s a pretty thorough treatment, but with some glaring omissions. There’s no mention of the problems people have with partners if one person is into piercing and the isn’t, for example, and there’s no sympathy for or understanding of the allure of sexual piercings.    It’s nice to have a published treatment of sex and piercings, since they are often (but not always!) connected, but I can’t say The Guide to Getting it On “gets it,” at least on this topic.  I’m  holding out for The Piercing Bible, coming to your bookstore soon!

Despite its shortcomings when it comes to treating piercings, I still highly recommend this book.  I guarantee you will have a good time reading it, and an even better time trying some of the tips out.  You can buy it here on Amazon:  Guide to Getting It On.

Let’s hear it for the girls

February 6, 2009


Piercings and Your Period

For any woman contemplating genital or nipple piercings, the best time to get pierced is after your period.  Try not to get pierced right before or during; you may be extra sensitive, the tissue swollen and tender.  Some women may even find that they are more sensitive to pain in other areas of the body at that time, so unless you really want more pain, time it right.

Also, the menstrual cycle can affect your piercings, causing them to act up.  For example, many women with healing nipple piercings are mystified why their piercings keep acting up, getting sore, tender, and oozing every few weeks, until they realize the the flare-ups sync with their cycle.


Is it all right to use pads instead of tampons with a healing genital piercing?

I was asked about this by a woman who could not use tampons.  I don’t have a definitive answer, but my common sense says it should be fine, if not ideal.  Modern pads wick away the moisture from the surface, so as long as a piercee is scrupulous about cleaning, say showering every 12 hours, I see no problem for a healing piercing.

Thanks to Luca Donnini’s photostream at Flickr for the amazing photo.  Link NSFW.

Aftercare in Detail: Cloud says oil!

February 2, 2009


Slippery fun!

For the last in my series of Aftercare in Detail, I’m going to talk about applying oil to your piercings.

I’m a big fan of oil for aftercare as an aid to healing fresh piercings.  Although it’s not “standard” aftercare, I’ve used oil on all my piercings with great success.  Of course, I live in a very dry desert.  If you live in a very humid climate, using oil may not be for you.  You have to understand the factors in healing and customize your own aftercare for your body, your environment, and your lifestyle.

For me, oil not only alleviates any dryness and flaking of the skin, which is often made worse by frequent sea salt soaks, but helps lubricate the piercing, helps keep crusties from accumulating on the jewelry, and allows the jewelry to move smoothly in the piercing if it wants to without pulling crusties through it, which are sharp and may damage the new skin cells.

How to use oil for your piercings:

After following your normal routine of soaking and showering, with clean hands, dab a very small amount of skin-friendly oil on and around your piercing.  It is not necessary to get the oil right on the piercings themselves or in the flesh tunnel. A little bit, I said! Don’t pour it on there!


Which oil to use:

I started off using almond oil, then experimented with olive oil and grapeseed oil.  Probably any good quality, fresh skin friendly oil can be used.  Jojoba oil is another that’s frequently used.  You can find olive, jojoba, grapeseed, and other oils at your local supermarket or health food store.  I found the sweet almond oil pictured above in Wal-Mart–in the “ethnic” cosmetics section.   My favorite oil to use is emu oil:


Emu oil is great stuff for the skin.  Although some people have derided it as “snake oil,” it’s now my first line of defense for all my piercings and any skin irritation.  Rashes, irritation, dry skin–all get a dab of emu oil and they’re gone–poof!  Some people cannot get over the whole “bird fat” thing (yes, it’s really fat from the hump of a large flightless bird) but I think it’s great stuff.  A little dab applied to a piercing after soaking will help keep the skin soft and the piercing lubricated.  Pictured is well-refined, great quality emu oil from the nice folks at Desert Palms Emu Ranch in Arizona, where I get all my emu oil.  They are great to deal with and committed to serving the needs of modified people.


All oils can go bad, particularly in hot weather, so check to make sure that your oils are fresh and of good quality.  Processing makes a difference.  Look for good quality, fresh, food grade, oil.

Some people do not like  using oil for body piercings because they feel that it will attract dirt and germs.  That may be true for some, but I feel it’s less of a concern for me because my normal routine involves soaking, then showering, every 12 hours in the beginning.  Just be sure and keep your piercing clean, and use an oil that absorbs quickly into the skin.

I do not like: Vitamin E, Vitamin E oil, or tea tree oil for regular aftercare application.  Vitamin E (the stuff that comes out of capsules) is too sticky, and I have concerns over the claims that the vitamins can be absorbed into your skin.  Tea tree oil has legitimate therapeutic uses for piercing aftercare, but I think it’s best used for troubleshooting problem piercings, rather than encouraging healing for fresh piercings.

So,  to keep the skin around your piercing supple and free of crusties, try a little dab of your favorite oil.  There are other oils that people will recommend, but I think the ones I listed are the best.  Remember, you may have to experiment a little to get something that works for you and your body.  If you are having problems with dry skin around your piercing,  don’t forget to keep hydrated and drink plenty of fresh water, too.

Piercing Aftercare in Detail: Salt of Life

January 24, 2009


Salt is, of course, necessary for human survival.  The search for and trading of salt has impacted trade and the rising and falling of nations.  It seasons and preserves food, and as we know, it also has therapeutic uses.  Salt is great stuff–you can eat it, gargle with it, and bathe with it.

Of course, it’s also one of the main components of basic body piercing aftercare. In case you missed my obsessive cross-linking, here’s my post on how to do sea salt soaks for your piercings:  Like Chicken Soup for your Piercings.

The APP’s standard aftercare recommends a “non-iodized sea salt solution.”  That’s all very well, but what exactly is sea salt, where can you find it, and why can’t you just use Morton’s off the shelf?


Salt comes either from mines or from the sea, and the nutritional value of each is the same. The chemical composition of salt is NaCl, or sodium chloride.  Regular table salt is refined, then anti-caking agents are added for pourability.  Iodine is also added as a nutritional supplement.  You do not want these additives in your piercing!

There are many varieties of salt. Look for salt which has no additives.

Some people recommend kosher salt, which you can find in your grocery store.  Kosher salt is raked during the mining process to produce a fluffy texture which melts well.  But look! The box I have, which I use for cooking, has “yellow prussiate of soda” in it added as an anti-caking agent.  So, read the labels for any type of salt you are considering purchasing for your sea salt soaks.


Another type of salt you may find in your grocery store is Celtic Sea Salt, or another brand of gourmet sea salt.  This type of salt is off white, almost gray, due to the trace minerals which haven’t been refined out.  I use this stuff in food, to brush my teeth for gum therapy, and for therapeutic baths.  I personally don’t know what effect these trace minerals have on piercings, so I prefer to use plain, refined NaCl without any additives if I can get it.

Not Epsom salts! Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) may have therapeutic benefits, but they are not what is recommended for your piercing.  Food grade rock salt may be okay (not the crap stuff they sell to put on roads), but remember you want this stuff to dissolve in hot water.


Where to Find Salt for your Aftercare:

Your piercer.  The best studios will have salt available, either for purchase, or given as a freebie with your aftercare instructions.  If they don’t have it for sale ask them–why not?

Your grocery store or health food store.  A health food store is often a good bet.  I found the individual packets of pure NaCl pictured above sold for use in neti pots (jalneti).  Avoid products with anti-caking agents or iodine added.

Online.  Many body jewelry retailers carry salt for aftercare. Here are a couple of sources from my favorite sites:

Sea Salt from Tribalectic

Jala Neti Pot Salt from Yoga & Life  (Neti pots are fabulous health aides too–check them out!)

Sea Salt from BodyArtForms

Note:  You can also use pre-packaged sterile solution for your piercing aftercare, which you can buy at a drugstore.  Not contact lens solution! Contact lens solution has added stuff!

You can also buy proprietary aftercare solutions, like H2Ocean, containing salt.  Let me just say here:  I don’t like them! You don’t know exactly what you are getting, and most of them are much more expensive than plain salt.   In addition, sprays, while they might be good convenience products for aftercare when you’re on the road or running around, don’t allow for the beneficial effects on your piercing of immersion in hot salt water. All this stuff smacks to me of people just wanting to cash in on the popularity of body piercing, and I can’t see any of it is better than plain, cheap, natural salt therapy. Again, read the labels and know what you are buying.

Some further links to info about salt and salt therapy:

Salt Works

Celtic Sea Salt

Geology of Salt from

Too much salt is bad for you, but I love it!

Body Piercing Aftercare: an herbal soak

January 20, 2009


In addition to soaking with salt, I often use herbs as a supplement to my aftercare routine, so I’m going to share with you one way I do it. This is not standard aftercare, which I talked about here.  Please note that I’m not an herbalist, and don’t pretend that this way is for everyone.    This is a recipe taught to me by one of my first piercers, and is not used much by others, but it works for me.

Lavender is a powerful antiseptic, and the idea is to use this to soak your piercing, just like sea salt soaks.  Here’s a nice page on the healing power of lavender.

I usually do this in the very beginning, as a healing aid, then switch to salt soaks later when the crusties start to show up.   This herbal soak is relaxing, aromatic, and is particularly excellent for genital piercings.   Don’t drink it! It’s not for oral piercings.

Start with washing your hands thoroughly, and make sure all your surfaces and utensils are as clean as possible.

Body Piercing Herbal Soak

  • 2 parts lavender
  • 1 part arnica
  • 1 part red clover

How much is a “part”?  About a handful–maybe 1/4 cup.   Crush the herbs a bit, and put them in a glass bowl, and pour boiling water over this to make a infusion. Cover and let it steep for a few hours, then strain.


After straining, refrigerate unused portions for 1-2 days. When you’re ready to use it, just pour a little in a cup and nuke it:  maybe 30-40 seconds.  Soak your piercing for 5-10 minutes once or twice a day. Unlike with salt soaks, there is no need to rinse afterward.

Lavender and arnica:


I usually buy my herbs at my local health food grocery store.  Lately, they’ve only been stocking the lavender, so I used that for my last piercing.  Here’s a picture of the lavender and some arnica pills.  I tried crushing some arnica pills and putting them into the infusion, but that didn’t work out too well.  I think I’ll order some herbs from the San Francisco Herb Company for next time.

Next post will be about some other herbal treatments for piercings.

Aftercare in Detail – Pt. 2: Cloud’s Routine

January 18, 2009


Your body does the healing.  It’s your job, as a new piercee, to support your body in its efforts.

A basic aftercare routine is to soak your piercings in a mild saltwater solution (or rinse, for oral piercings) and to keep the area clean by washing with soap.

A word about “standard” aftercare. The APP has promulgated standard aftercare which you can read here for body piercings and here for oral piercings.  But your body may not be “standard,” or your piercer may have other ideas for aftercare.  The key is to use your common sense and be aware of how your own body reacts.


Rather than repeating the party line, I’m going to go over my own aftercare routine, which I’ve developed over the years based on piercers’ suggestions and trial and error.  (Note: this is for body piercings only, not oral piercings.)

For the first couple of weeks (or however long I can stand it), I soak with salt or herbs, and shower with soap, twice a day, or every 12 hours.  I also use oil as a healing aid. Here’s how:

1.      I clean and prepare. First, I make sure everything is clean and I have all my supplies (salt, herbs, oil).  I make sure the surfaces in my kitchen or bathroom have been cleaned and disinfected, and that I have paper towels, clean sheets and pillowcases, and clean towels.

2.      I wash my hands.  I wash my hands before touching my piercing or doing anything aftercare related.  And I mean WASH! With hot water! and soap! and friction!– not just a quick rinse under the faucet.

3.      I prepare my herbs. In the beginning, I like to soak with herbs, rather than, or in addition to, salt water solution, for the antibacterial, anti-bruising, and healing effects.  Since the herbal mixture takes several hours to steep, I make my herbal infusion, using lavender, or a mixture of lavender, arnica, and red clover (more details on this here).

4.     I soak. I tend to do more salt soaks a little later in the healing process, when the crusties show up, because the action of the salt water draws out the material inside the piercing.  If I want to do a sea salt soak, I mix my sea salt solution.  I heat my salt solution (or herbs) in the microwave until it’s as hot as my skin can stand. Then I soak, for 5-10 minutes.  Using a cup, I bring the cup to my piercing and (hopefully) make a vacuum seal.  This works great for things like nipples and navels.  For things like ears and genitals, I use a bowl on the floor.  On a towel!  I describe doing sea salt soaks in detail here:  Like Chicken Soup for Your Piercings!


5.     I shower. Showering is an important part of daily piercing aftercare.  Even if you don’t do sea salt (or herbal) soaks, just letting hot water over your piercing is going to help keep it clean and remove the crusties.  Since it’s important to rinse any salt off, if I do sea salt soaks I shower afterwards.  (If I do herbal soaks, I usually soak after the shower because there’s no need to rinse off).

–Turn the water on hot and let the steam build up.  I take my time and let the steam and water soften my skin, the piercing and any crusties still on there.  I let the water run over my piercing for a while.  This is a good argument for getting pierced in winter when a long, hot, steamy shower will feel great.

I use Provon antimicrobial soap.   First, I wash my entire body with it, head to toe.  There are a lot of microorganisms that live on your skin, and they can migrate, or travel, so the idea here is to cleanse your skin both of ordinary surface dirt and to kill any bad germies so they don’t get to your piercing.  I use a tiny bit at a time, working up lather, and rinse well.

–Then, and only then, after a long steam and soak, and after cleansing the rest of my body, do I wash my piercing.  Again, I take a tiny bit of Provon, and lather it up, and place it gently on and around the piercing.  I let it sit there for 30 seconds, then rinse off.

It is not necessary to rotate your jewelry, scrub it, move it back and forth vigorously to get soap in there, or any of that!  I might choose to gently manipulate the piercing during this soaping and rinsing stage, when the skin is soft and pliable, and the jewelry is lubricated, if I think it needs it, for positioning purposes, or for cleaning any remaining crusties.  But only move your jewelry if it wants to go, and never force it!  Overcleaning and rough treatment will harm your piercing!

6.    I dry off. I dry off with paper towels.  (Okay, I use a clean towel for most of my body, and paper towels for the area around my piercing.)  Not only do towels harbor germs, but those terry loops can catch painfully on the jewelry.  Ouch!  It’s important to dry your piercings thoroughly.

7.   I apply oil. For the final touch, I apply a little bit of oil (emu, almond, jojoba, etc.) on and around the piercing exit holes.  (NOT in the piercing holes.)  This helps keep the skin from drying out and gives a little “ease” to the jewelry, and helps keep crusties from sticking so bad on the jewelry, too.  More on oil later.

Then, I wait. Again, keeping in mind the general principles I discussed in Part 1, you want to protect your piercing, keep it clean, and give your body time to heal.  Disclaimer:  This is only one person’s opinion and routine.  Remember, your piercer is your first resource for piercing advice.

Thanks to Krikit’s photostream and Flickr.

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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