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Aftercare – What Not to Do

Especially in the age of the internet, it is so incredibly easy to find advice on your piercing problems. Online forums, often filled with piercing enthusiasts, are the go-to when it comes to aftercare advice, how to treat your piercing bump and troubleshooting. Unfortunately, often the advise given in these forums are anecdotal and not backed by the medical world nor by experienced, high quality piercing studios. This blog will be all about debunking common aftercare cures that we regularly hear about, and what to do instead!

Homemade Salt Water

Homemade salt water is probably the number one incorrect aftercare that we see as a quality studio. So why is it still so common? It’s still commonly advised to customers by old-school, low quality, or inexperienced piercers as homemade saltwater was once the recommended aftercare given by all piercers. However, this was only the standard aftercare advice in the late 90s and early 2000s – It has not been recommended by high quality piercers for over 20 years. So why is it not good?

Homemade saltwater has three main issues: Sterility, additions, and concentration. Firstly, when you boil a kettle of hot water it has not been sterilised. When you add salt to it, the nonsterile salt contaminates the water with yet more bacteria. This means you can potentially introduce bacteria and other irritants to your piercing. Secondly, additions. Salt often has anti-caking agents and other additives that you do not want to introduce into your piercing. Thirdly, concentration. 99% of the time, homemade saltwater soaks are made far too highly concentrated. More is not better in this situation! A strong salt solution will damage your healing cells, removing necessary fluids and plasma from the skin to cause contact dermatitis and salt burns.

We do not recommend homemade saltwater soaks for any piercing – We have simply moved past it as an aftercare routine. If you are having issues with a piercing and are using salt water, we recommend moving over to a sterile saline solution to remove a possible irritant that could be damaging your piercing.

Homemade salt water soaks are a common cause of irritation bumps.

Tea Tree Oil

We do believe that the tide of public opinion is finally turning against Tea Tree Oil. This harsh essential oil has no place in the piercing aftercare arsenal. Tea Tree Oil (TTO) is an essential oil made from the Melaleuca alternifolia tree. Unfortunately, natural does not mean harmless in this situation as Tea Tree Oil is very caustic especially when applied undiluted as is often the case with piercing treatment. When applied multiple times a day as is often recommended, TTO is simply going to burn the skin and damage your healing cells. Tea Tree Oil is also a common allergen, causing contact dermatitis and painful rashes in up to 5% of the population.

We cannot stress enough how much we do not recommend using TTO!

Aspirin Pastes

Aspirin is NOT recommended to solve your piercing bump.

Aspirin pastes have long been touted as the ultimate cure for your piercing bump. If you are a long-time reader of our blogs, you know that there is never one simple solution and aspirin paste is definitely not the answer! Aspirin pastes contain Salicylic Acid, a harsh acid irritant that burns off the bump over multiple uses. This does not solve the underlying problem that is causing the bump, and can often make it worse due to damaging and weakening the surrounding skin. Aspirin paste usage can also increase your skins sensitivity to UV rays which can increase your risk of damage.

In short, it is always a bad idea to misuse medical items against their intended use. Please do not use aspirin pastes on any of your piercings!

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide is a classic piercing aftercare product, but another that has no place in the modern piercing industry. Hydrogen Peroxide is an oxidising agent, and a type of bleach. Hydrogen Peroxide is too harsh to apply to a piercing and is definitely too harsh to apply multiple days in a row as is often recommended. H202 is a common irritant that damages your skin. Your piercing problem may look like it has improved for a day or so as the skin lifts and dries, but the underlying issue has not been rectified and so the bump will invariably return.

In addition to this, due to Hydrogen Peroxide being an oxidising agent, H2O2 can be very damaging to your jewellery. Titanium in particular is susceptible to being oxidised by H2o2 application, which damages the surface finish of your jewellery leading to a porous, scratched surface that can compound any irritation you are experiencing.

The jewellery on the left has been damaged by Hydrogen Peroxide application.

Antiseptic Creams

This is one we see fairly often. This often comes from the misconception that your piercing bump should be treated like any other cut or injury on the body which requires medical help. Antiseptic creams such as Savlon, Germolene or Sudocrem are not intended for application to a piercing, where they can smother the piercing and prevent the cells from respiring and the wound from draining. Creams will leave your piercing wet, and soaked in moisture which can exacerbate your problems and extend your healing time. Antiseptics will damage the natural skin flora, leaving you more susceptible to overgrowths of harmful microbes. Especially when applied multiple times a day over a long period of time, creams like this can damage your cells and do not help your piercing in the way you think it will.

Conclusion

This is not an exhaustive list of all of the bad advice you can find on the internet. There seems to be a new fad each week! A common counter-argument we hear when we debunk these type of things is ‘But it worked for me!’ Unfortunately we don’t accept anecdotal evidence. Confirmation bias is a very real phenomenon and is a logical fallacy – What may have worked for you has been proven to cause harm to most other people!

If you are having trouble with any of your existing piercings, we highly recommend booking in for an in-person piercing consultation. Head to our TROUBLESHOOTING FAQ to see if anything jumps out at you as a probably cause.

You can also contact us via email or social media!

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