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.

Do I need antibiotics before piercing?

November 24, 2008

Sacred Heart Collage

Sacred Heart Collage,

originally uploaded by Migraine Chick.

Maybe.  Here, as promised, is Chris’s informative article on endocarditis, original published here at Tribalectic.   A further resource is the Association of Professional Piercers’ position, which you can read here.

Oral piercings, Endocarditis, and You:

As piercings become more popular, I am amazed at the lack of basic knowledge most people have when it comes to keeping a piercing and oneself happy and healthy. While all piercings have the inherent risk of becoming infected, oral piercings present a unique and particularly insidious risk for some people: bacterial endocarditis.

What is Endocarditis?

Endocarditis is the inflammation of the endocardium, the tissue that makes up the inner lining of the heart. Very often this condition affects the heart valves. Though it may be caused by fungi, it is most commonly caused by bacteria. This condition is most common among people with preexisting heart problems.

When these bacteria make their way into the blood stream, they can find their way to the heart and colonize on damaged heart tissue. Since heart valves have no actual blood supply of their own, white blood cells are not able to move in and destroy the invading bacteria. As a result, an infection can become established.

Endocarditis can cause in flulike symptoms and, if left untreated, can result in stroke and even death.

Why should I care?

As mentioned before, bacterial endocarditis most commonly affects individuals with preexisting heart problems. These individuals are required to begin a prophylactic (preventative) antibiotic regimen prior to having dental work or other medical procedures performed. Though it is a rare disease, it is not an uncommon one, and according to the American Heart Association, about 29,000 cases are diagnosed each year.

It should be noted that, in fact, any oral trauma can result in endocarditis in prone individuals. For this reason, these individuals should be particularly conscious when considering an oral piercing since a piercing is a type of trauma. Such individuals should take the same precautions when getting an oral piercing as they would when having dental work performed.

The Bottom Line: If you have to take antibiotics before having any dental procedures done, you must also take them prior to getting an oral piercing, else you run the risk of developing bacterial endocarditis.

If you are at any point unsure about whether you are at risk for endocarditis you should speak to your physician before getting an oral piercing.

Further Readings

Mayo Clinic


Thanks, Chris!

Thanks to: Tribalectic, Flickr,  the Mayo Clinic, the CDC, and the APP!

Healing at Warp Factor 9

November 19, 2008
Cassiopeia A in Many Colors

Cassiopeia A: Cassiopeia A in Many Colors,
originally uploaded by Smithsonian Institution.

Ever notice that some piercings heal slower than others, some heal not at all? That your piercings can act up when you’re stressed or ill? A nice, calm, nose ring or nipple piercing will suddenly give you trouble, for no reason?

Piercings can be a pretty good barometer of your overall health, so it makes sense to think about them in terms of your whole body and its systems.  I’m not a medical professional, so this is not advice, just common sense.  We are all guardians of our own health.

On with the damn factors, woman!

  • Health and habits: Illness, stress, menstrual cycles, medications, smoking, substance abuse, poor nutrition; poor hygiene, improper or neglectful aftercare
  • Climate and environment:  extremes of temperature, humidity, cold, dirt
  • Physical stress: occupational stress, physical movement, athletic training, trauma, seatbelts, clothing, any kind of pressure, accident, or trauma; soap, grooming products, overcleaning, “messing with it”
  • Jewelry: placement, shape, weight, material, finish, removing or changing it prematurely

Yep! Lots of factors, and I’m sure there are more I haven’t listed.  You can see why piercings are so much more complicated to heal than tattoos, because they take much longer and you have to deal with a lot more living.   Figure out which of these things is slowing your healing, and engage!

another pretty photo from The Commons

How do thee heal? Let me count the ways

November 18, 2008
Supernova Portrait Gallery

E0102-72.3: Supernova Portrait Gallery,
originally uploaded by Smithsonian Institution.

Factors in Healing

I’ve heard so many questions from people on how to troubleshoot and heal their piercings.  Piercees are faced with bumps, pain, irritation, infection, migration, up to and including serious infection or loss of the piercing.

Yet there are always some piercees, like the waitress I ran into, who seem to have trouble-free piercings with minimal or abysmal care.


‘Tis a mystery. Well, I’m not Dr. Weil, and I don’t have all the answers.

Really, there are so many variables, the causes of speedy and happy healing can be hard to pin down. So let me talk about about the factors to think about.  Factors are things to take into consideration when reaching a decision.  If you are trying to self-diagnose and improve a troubled piercing or ensure a happy piercing, you have a lot of things to think about, for instance, health, sensitivity, and environment.  I’ll give you a few things to think about in upcoming posts.

By the way, the pic is from an awesome set of photo from the The Commons at Flickr via the Smithsonian Institution.