Things You Should And Shouldn't Do When Cleaning Ear Piercings

Why is it that every time we go to get a new piercing (be it a rook piercing, a conch piercing, or just a regular lobe piercing) we seem to get care information that conflicts with every other piece of advice we've been given? Gone are the days when we'd go to Claire's and be handed a giant bottle of cleaning solution and sent on our way. These days, piercing shops are more likely to hand us a card with some instructions on it, and those cards always seem to have different information than we were expecting. 

Are we supposed to use cotton balls or not? Is gauze okay? Just water? Saline solution? Teabags? Do we just leave the scabs alone? With so much conflicting information out there, it can be hard to get to the bottom of what we're actually supposed to do.

How to treat your new ear piercing

Caring for your piercing actually starts before anyone comes near your ear with a needle. If you've decided to take the plunge and get that second hole in your lobe, make sure you go to a piercer who guarantees their work and has a healthy amount of good reviews. The person making a permanent change to your body should be someone you can trust. 

After you get your piercing, the piercer will hand you a card or simply tell you the best way to care for it. That will likely mean that you keep the area clean by using a saline solution twice a day, allowing any discharge to soften (via NHS). However, some piercers may also suggest using a gentle, unscented soap and water to clean the area as part of your shower routine (via Into the Gloss). According to Healthline, the first thing to do when cleaning your piercing is to wash your hands. Gently dab (rather than wipe) the cleansing solution of your choice on and around the piercing before drying with a clean towel. Healthline also suggests putting a small amount of petroleum jelly on the piercing to protect from bacteria and help heal any scabs.

How not to treat your new ear piercing

According to Healthline, there are some other guidelines to follow with your new piercing — and it's all about what not to do. It may seem counterintuitive, but avoid cleaning your piercing in the bathroom, where there is likely a high concentration of bacteria. Try not to lie on the piercing when possible — not only is that likely going to be painful, but you could be trapping unwanted bacteria in the piercing. It's also incredibly important to keep hair products away from it. Essentially, treat the piercing like the open wound that it is. Be careful with what you put near it, try not to touch it as much as possible, and definitely don't remove the jewelry until you're positive it's fully healed.

One more tip: Into the Gloss says to avoid alcohol and peroxide for cleaning, because those only serve to take moisture away, and can lead to scarring.

If you follow these general guidelines and the instructions from your piercer, your new piercing should heal just fine. If something doesn't feel right, or you think it may be infected, get help as soon as possible.