Aftercare – Ear and Facial

Cartilage & Soft Tissue
Ear Piercings
General Healing Times
  • Ear Lobe – 1 to 2 months
  • Industrial – 6 to 12 months
  • Tragus – 6 to 12 months
  • Rook – 6 to 12 months
  • Daith – 6 to 12 months
Cartilage & Soft Tissue
Facial Piercings
General Healing Times
  • Eyebrow – 2 to 3 months
  • Bridge – 6 to 12 months
  • Septum – 8 to 10 months
  • Nostril – 2 to 3 months
  • Dermals – 2 to 4 months

General Aftercare

Before reading this section, please take the time to read the article, general aftercare for your piercing. While the information below has additional instructions on the care of your particular piercing, the general aftercare page has information that applies to all types of piercing.

Cleaning

Clean facial piercing like any other. Soak a clean paper towel with warm water and apply it to the outside of the piercing like a compress. This loosens any crusting that has formed around the jewelry. Gently flush away the loosened crusting. You can also use a damp cotton swab to carefully remove any crusting. Use antibacterial soap or antiseptic cleanser to clean the outer area of the piercing. Lather some soap on your fingertips or spray a liberal amount of the cleanser to the outside of the jewelry and rotate or wiggle it back and forth to get the cleanser into the opening. Use a fresh wet paper towel to clean the excess cleanser from the area or flush with clean water. Pat dry with a clean paper towel.

Read the sections that pertain to your particular piercing below for additional aftercare considerations. As with all piercing, common sense and maintenance will result in a properly healed piercing.

Jewelry Migration and Nesting

There is a period of time when the skin tissue around the piercing adjusts itself to the jewelry. This is called nesting. As with most piercing, it takes a while for the skin to get used to having a piece of metal in it. Often as long as a several months. As the jewelry nests itself, there is some degree of migration. Migration is the movement of the jewelry in the skin as the body adjusts itself to accepting the foreign object. With an earlobe piercing, the jewelry tends to settle downward. Bridge and eyebrow piercing tend to do the most migrating during the nesting period as these piercing have the highest risk of migrating out of the skin. Keep in mind that this migration is normal and is not because your piercer did something wrong. Cartilage piercing do not migrate but they do have their own particular considerations that you need to be aware of.

Suggested Cleaning Products

The following list is for quick reference only and is by no means a complete list of available products. Please read and follow all recommended directions accompanying each product you use.

Antiseptic Cleanser

First aid antiseptic and pain reliever such as Bactine® or EarCare®. Their principal ingredient is Benzalkonium Chloride, which is excellent for healing a piercing. These cleaning solutions are to be used externally and care should be taken to avoid eye contact with bridge and eye brow piercing. Do Not Use Internally.

Anti-Bacterial Soap

An antimicrobial soap such as Dial®, Soft Soap® or Provon®. This is used for general cleaning of external areas of all piercing. You need to ensure that all the soap gets rinsed out completely from the inside of the piercing.


About Keloids

 

Extreme keloid growth of the earlobe

Keloids are excess tissue that builds up around the outer areas of a piercing. Keloids are usually caused by stress placed on the piercing from either internal or external sources. Internal sources are anything that affects the jewelry itself such as pressure on the jewelry from placement, clothing, or sleeping to trauma to the skin tissue due to overstretching. External sources are usually due to allergic reactions to laundry detergents and body cleaning products, or from bacterial or viral sources.

Once a keloid has begun they are often very difficult to get rid of and requires time and patience. The toughest part is determining what the cause of the keloid is. Often a change of jewelry will help alleviate the pressure and will noticeably reduce the keloid within days. More difficult to determine is keloiding due to bacteria or allergic reactions. Some experimentation is required to determine the cause of this type of keloid.

In extreme cases, keloids can become large and unsightly, as in this image, requiring surgical procedure for removal. Small keloids can be treated externally by applying Hydrocortisone Cream to the keloid. Hydrocortisone cream is available at any local pharmacy and is available in over-the-counter strength. Apply a small amount to the keloid and let it soak into the skin. Do this once daily. Discontinue if you do not see a change within a week or if the area becomes red or tender.

Some people have also had success with Vitamin E caplets. These gel caplets are also available at any pharmacy or vitamin store. Break the caplet open and apply the oil onto the keloid. Let the oil sit for a good ten minutes then rinse with clean water. Do this once daily. Discontinue if you do not see a change within a week or if the area becomes red or tender.

Two other methods that some people claim have helped is to use Hydrogen Peroxide or a crushed Aspirin that has been turned into a paste with a drop of water. Hydrogen peroxide only works if the keloid is caused by bacterial or viral sources. Soak the piercing with the hydrogen peroxide for a few minutes once a day. The aspirin tends to work best on oral piercing. Crush the aspirin with a spoon and work into a paste by adding a small drop of water. Use regular aspirin, not a non-aspirin tablet such as Tylenol ® or Advil ®. Apply the paste to the affected area and let stand for five minutes and rinse. Do this once daily. Discontinue if you do not see a change within a week or if the area becomes red or tender.


Ear and Facial Soft Tissue Piercing Care

Earlobe Piercing

Everyone is familiar with ear lobe piercing. It is a cultural standard we have all grown up with. Unfortunately very few people consider it body piercing and seldom, if ever, take care of this piercing the way any other piercing should be cared for.

Result of an embedded ear stud

The most common way of piercing ear lobes is with a piercing gun. It is fast and almost pain free. A daily cleaning with antibacterial soap or antiseptic cleanser and clean water is all this piercing really needs. One thing you will need to keep an eye on is the tightness of the stud’s backing piece. Since the piercing gun is spring loaded, it can push the backing piece too far onto the stud’s post putting pressure against the lobe causing the backing to become embedded into the skin if left unchecked, as seen in the photo here.

If your earlobes were pierced with a needle and have rings inserted in them, cleaning is super easy. While in the shower, let the water hit the piercing area and gently remove any crusting that may have accumulated around the piercing. Lather up your fingertips with antibacterial soap and apply to the area around the piercing. Take the ring and gently rotate it through the hole allowing the soap to clean out the piercing. While still rotating the jewelry, rinse the piercing under the running water to remove the soap.

Another way to clean the piercing is to use an antiseptic cleanser. Remove any crusting using a warm, moist paper towel. Spray the piercing with the cleanser and rotate the jewelry through the opening. Use a fresh wet paper towel to clean the excess cleanser from the area or flush with clean water. Pat dry with a clean paper towel.

Avoid getting anything in or on the piercing such as hair or facial products like hair gels and sprays or makeup. If you do, simply clean the area as described above.


Eyebrow & Bridge Piercing

Typical bridge piercing

Both these piercing are considered a surface piercing which tend to have a greater risk of jewelry migration to the point of growing out. For this reason you need to be very aware of how your body reacts to these piercing, in particular the bridge piercing seen here.

As with all piercing, proper cleaning is essential. With these two piercing however, proper jewelry is a must. The jewelry that is inserted into these piercing should be placed deep enough into the skin and should not have any outward pressure on them. Jewelry that is too small or too large can create pressure against the skin that facilitates outward growth of the piercing. Facial jewelry can also receive outward pressure from external sources such as eyeglasses, hats, bandanas, etc. Keep an eye on the amount of skin between openings. You may have a problem if you notice the distance growing noticeably closer. Also look at the translucency of the skin over the jewelry. A good indicator that your jewelry is migrating out is if you can see a shadow of the jewelry under the skin. I recommend taking the jewelry out and letting the area heal rather than having the jewelry migrate through the skin and leaving a scar. Consult with your piercer if you have any doubts about the condition of your piercing.

Typical eyebrow piercing

Avoid any hair or facial products on or around your piercing. Makeup, eye shadow and powders should be kept clear of the piercing. If you use hair spray, gels or mousse, make sure you avoid overspray. Should you get any of these products on your piercing wash the area immediately. Do not allow hair or facial products to remain on the piercing for any length of time.


Nose Septum Piercing

Typical septum piercing

Farmers who maintain oxen and bull often pierce the animal’s septum in order to control the animal. A ring is inserted and any slight pressure or tug on this ring will cause discomfort to the creature. Why do I mention this? Like the bull’s septum a human’s septum is just as sensitive. Be warned that this is a tough piercing to get and even tougher to expand.

The septum piercing is done in the skin area just below the piece of cartilage that separates your two nostril openings. Since the piercing is done just under the cartilage this piercing can be stretched to accommodate larger gauge jewelry.

Because the nose is your lung’s filtering system you can understand why this particular piercing can be a problem to take care of. Hygiene is important to avoid infection and this is not a piercing I recommend if you have allergies. Even due to its location, touching this piercing with dirty hands is the number one reason for infection.

Initially a ring or a septum retainer, a horseshoe shaped piece of stainless steel wire, is used in order to facilitate cleaning. These two jewelry types can be rotated easily and are able to be turned upwards into the nostril opening to hide the jewelry. With larger gauges a small flared tunnel or plug can be inserted to maintain the piercing while presenting an unobtrusive look. The easiest way to clean this piercing is over a sink with soap and water.

Before reading the following sections, please take the time to read the article, ban the piercing gun. This article contains cautionary information about the hazards of piercing guns on ear and nose cartilage.

Ear & Nose Cartilage Piercing Care

The one thing to keep in mind with any cartilage piercing is that cartilage does not mend itself. What this means is once a hole is made into cartilage that hole will remain there. The way cartilage piercing heal is by having the skin grow around the piercing creating a tunnel for the jewelry to pass through. A larger gauge needle is used for cartilage piercing allowing for the skin to heal properly. Because of this space around the jewelry cartilage piercing are notorious for bleeding and may bleed for a good 24 to 48 hours after the piercing is done. Gently clean off any dry blood around the outside of the piercing with a cotton swab and warm water prior to cleaning the piercing.

Nose Cartilage Piercing

Like ear cartilage piercing, I have heard of people getting their noses pierced by a piercing gun. I have even seen girls wearing ear rings with the backing on them in their nose. I can’t stress enough that you should NEVER do this! Read the article mentioned above for more details.

Most reputable shops will use a nostril screw for the initial piercing while some may use a nostril bone. A nostril screw is a small wire with a 90 degree arc at the end that ‘screws’ into the piercing to prevent accidental removal. A nostril bone is a short stud with a tiny bump, or ball, at the insertion end of the jewelry that prevents it from working its way out, though a slight tug will take it out. In either case, you need to be careful you don’t catch the jewelry with the swab or paper towel when cleaning. The easiest way to clean this piercing is with a moistened cotton tipped swab.


Industrial, Tragus, Rook & Daith Cartilage Piercing

While some of the piercing names in this section may not be familiar, these cartilage piercing are very popular among the youth. Unfortunately too many of these are being done with piercing guns, usually by untrained operators. Read the article mentioned above for more details.

Most of these piercing use small captive bead rings for jewelry. This makes cleaning easier since rings can be rotated to facilitate cleaning. The easiest way to clean cartilage piercing is with a moistened cotton tipped swab. Follow the steps in the cleaning section above.

The industrial uses a long barbell that travels through two holes in the ear and the ear can be very tender during cleaning. Most ear piercing also require some getting used to during sleep. I suggest putting on a junky pillow case during the first few days of healing as the piercing can bleed overnight.