Aftercare in Detail: Cloud says oil!

February 2, 2009

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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!

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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:

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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.

Warnings

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.