Theres a ton of discussion about how to keep a healing piercing clean, and with good reason. It’s crucial to be cleaning correctly with a healing piercing to ensure it heals correctly. But what about once that piercing is healed. How do you keep it clean then? Well, lets talk about that! I already have an article (here) about keeping your jewelry clean. But what about the piercings themselves?
You do not need to remove jewelry
Let’s start by addressing a common misconception. You don’t need to remove jewelry to clean your piercing, and especially not if something is still healing. If your piercing is still healing you should never ever remove jewelry. But even once healed, you don’t need to remove your jewelry to clean the area. You can simple clean around and under the jewelry while it is still in.
Less is More
This is often the case with healing piercings, but especially healed piercings. There are some crazy products out there, from “piercing floss” to balms and ointments marketed to clean your piercings, to video tutorials of folks squirting water through their piercings or other weird hacks. If it seems weird, off the wall, or too specialized, its probably because it is. Just like gimmicky skincare which often doesn’t do much of anything for your skin, lots of these products are just a gimmick for your piercings. Generally, however you prefer to clean your skin in the same area, you can clean your piercing. Your favorite mild soap and some warm water are all you are going to need.
Like I discuss in my skincare and piercings article (here) some strong skincare products can damage body jewelry, particularly chemicals used to treat acne. Definitely double check what cleansers and washes you use, and make sure you only use your mild products around body jewelry and piercings!
Honestly, you can incorporate cleaning these with your regular cleaning routine. Most general facial cleansers are very mid and safe to use around your piercings. I personally use a Clarisonic brush to wash my face, and I use that right over all my piercings as well. The soft bristles get under and around all my jewelry and keep the skin under my large pieces clean. You can also use a soft washcloth to gently clean over and around jewelry, just be careful not to snag! Then just rinse everything throughly after- and pay special attention to get any soap residue off of and out from under jewelry. You don’t need to try to move or twist jewelry to “”get the soap in the hole”. Just cleaning the exposed skin throughly is enough, and I have seen clients cause irritation even in healed piercings from moving them around and getting soap trapped in the piercing channel. Waterpiks can also be used on facial piercings, on a low setting. Cordless versions are even safe to take into the shower! These do make a bit of a mess however, so be warned haha!
If you are a makeup wearer, I have a whole article dedicated to keeping your jewelry makeup free and your healed piercings clean and healthy, check it out here!
Good oral hygiene always has, and always will be the best way to keep oral piercings clean! Brushing, flossing, tongue scrubbing, and rinsing 2-3 times a day after meals. And yes, you should be using a tongue scrubber to keep your tongue clean! You can incorporate brushing your jewelry into your daily routine, and make sure you give any pieces that sit inside your mouth a good scrub every time you brush your teeth.
A waterpik is great to keep plaque off of oral piercing jewelry. Regular use on a low setting with keep plaque from building up badly, the same way it keeps your teeth clean! Sometimes its awkward to get a really good scrub on the inside of a lip or under your tongue, so a waterpik is great for those sometimes tough to reach areas.
If somehow a piece has gotten really built up with plaque, you can use mild denture cleaner on it. I only suggest this for implant grade steel or titanium jewelry, as it can damage other materials or gems. Denture cleaner however is very strong and will knock a bad plaque buildup right off.
Cleaning your ears seems to be a tricky thing for some, even when you don’t have a lot of piercings! When you add them into the mix, it can get trickier. Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks to make this simpler! For a quick simple cleaning I like to take a small amount of mild liquid soap, lather it in my hands, and go over my ears in the shower. Then you can let the warm water rinse over your ears throughly to remove and traces of soap. When you are done you can gently use a qtip to clean under and around jewelry, and finish up by drying with a blowdryer on a low setting, since that will get all around the nooks and crannies and get any water out! Waterpiks can also be used on ears, on a low setting. Cordless versions are even safe to take into the shower!
Aside from general advice for other piercings, I think warm compresses can benefit surface piercings even well after the are healed. These piercings mores then others can get buildup of dead skin cells, makeup, and skin products around them. Warm compresses help soften that buildup, and make it easier to clean away. Once these are healed being sure to clean under and around the tops regularly is important.
The same goes for body piercings, including healed navels and nipples. A little soap in the shower is all you need. Even healed, avoid using a loofa around these piercings, because a good snag can cause irritation even years after a piercing has fully healed. Mild soap and water is all you need! With navels make sure you dry the area well after, as these piercings can get wetness irritations even after they are healed.
You may need to invest in a milder soap that is fragrance free and safe for use in this area. For vulva piercings, be cautious using soap in the area, as many soaps can disrupt your pH. I would only use soap if you felt it was needed, or if you were sure that soap was safe for you to use! Water based lubricants are safer on piercings than silicone based, and also easier to clean up.
Your Skin Type Matters
This is general advice for keeping your healed piercings clean, healthy, and happy. But, this might not work for everyone, and that’s ok. Your skin type, skin conditions you might have, acne, and other factors might change things for you. You might have medications you need to use around your piercings, you might need to clean more or less often, or use special soaps. If you have dry skin, you might need to moisturize around some piercings! Likewise, oily skin can cause more buildup on some piercings. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your piercer and work with them to fond a routine or products that work for you and your unique skin.
My Septum and Nostril still kinda have a smell, even when I clean!
Actually, all piercings have this smell to some degree. Its a natural buildup of dead skin cells, dirt and oil, etc. On our skin, we clean that away and mask the natural smell of our body with fragranced products. Inside our nose though, we can still smell the “normal” smell of our piercing channels, no matter how clean. These mild odors are normal, and nothing to stress out about. And I promise, no one else can smell them. If they become stronger or worse, that might be a sign you need to really clean your piercing or jewelry. But in general, even with regular cleaning, a septum or nostril piercing will still have. faint, natural, normal odor. Wearing high quality jewelry does reduce this odor greatly.
Keeping your healed piercings clean is just as important as keeping your healing piercings clean! This prevents any irritation or issues arising. Just because a piercing is healed, doesn’t mean its immune from a flareup or some grumpiness. Take good care of your healed piercings too, and they will stay happy and healthy for a lifetime!