As I sit to write this, the first real snow of the season here is settling outside. It’s that time of year- where the world is transformed with beautiful, frosty flakes and enchanted with ice. Winter! Personally, I loathe the cold, but I can admire the beauty of snow and winter landscapes. However, if you have lots of piercings or stretched ears, winter can bring its own set of challenges and considerations. So, lets look at how cold wether can effect your piercings!
For many, winter is months long and often overlaps with timing that may be right for new piercings! Winter break, holidays, a gift card, there’s so many things that make this a great time of year for new piercings. And to be fair, some piercings are best done and healed in winter so they are ready for swimming and summer (navels are a great example of this!) But, winter also brings cold weather, dry skin, and some unique concerns for getting new piercings.
Dry skin is very common in winter, and many people need extra moisturizer during these months. But dry skin can effect getting fresh piercings too, particularly facial piercings if you get bad dry patches. This can cause dry, flaking skin around healing piercings, and make skin heal slower as it lacks needed moisture. If you know you are prone to skin issues in winter, keep that in mind when getting pierced. And stay extra hydrated, even consider running a humidifier in your home to help with the dryness. Especially when you run the heat in the cold weather, the air in your home becomes very very dry. This coupled with the cold outside is a proven irritant to skin in the winter months. A good humidifier will keep moisture in your air at home and keep your skin and piercings happy.
And this all goes doubly for chapped lips. Many lip and oral piercings, particularly vertical lip piercings, cause chapped lips. In winter, if you are already prone to chapped lips this can be a nightmare! And since chapstick isn’t safe to use while healing, staying very well hydrated is your best bet. Also resist the urge to pick and bite at your chapped lips, as this will only make things worse. Keep your lips protected under a scarf when out and about, and be extra careful while you have your longer initial jewelry in.
The cold also often brings runny, stuffy noses. This can cause extra irritation for nostril and septum piercings, even including irritation bumps, prolonged healing, and tenderness. If you know you get very runny or sore nose in the winter, understand this may complicate healing nose piercings, and expect a more challenging healing process.
And in general, this time of year is perfect for knit sweaters, chunky cardigans, and cozy blankets. But all that knitwear loves to catch and snag on healing piercings- so be mindful!
Surely however those issues are just for fresh piercings right? Like, my healed stuff will be totally fine. Wrong! All of these same things can effect healed piercings too. Prone to dry skin during the winter? Your well healed piercings may experience an excess of dry skin around them, and even irritation or issues from this. If your piercing is well healed- moisturize! I use a thicker moisturizer in winter and apply that right on and over my healed piercings(never fresh or healing)- including my ears! Now, always patch test products and ensure you aren’t sensitive before using, but moisturizer is a must even for healed piercings in the cold months.
Likewise existing oral piercings can deal with extra chapping and irritation. A good chapstick works wonders, and I love using a lip mask at night to really up the hydration. Although truly the best thing for chapped lips is to stay hydrated from the inside- drink extra water during the winter months and consider a humidifier for your bedroom!
And yes, existing healed nostril and septum piercings will get angry when your nose is runny. A good sit in a steamy bathroom will loosen mucous and also make it easier to clean septum and nostril jewelry that’s angry from a stuffy nose. And moisturizing tissues can be gentler on your piercings then standard.
In general sudden weather changes can shock our skin, and by extension our healed piercings. I often see clients existing piercings randomly become grumpy, tender, or crusty after a sudden weather change. Often traveling somewhere new, or an extreme change locally (for example it was 74 on new years day in Nashville and 17 a few days later!). If there’s a sudden change in weather or an intense cold front, that may cause your piercings to be grumpy! Don’t be surprised if it happens, and give your piercing some extra care and babying for a few days till things calm down.
Stretched piercings are especially susceptible to cold, in particular stretched lobes and septums. Stretched lobes can even get frostbite, which is a skin injury caused by low temperatures. Frostbites first symptom is numbness, so its very easy for it to sneak up on you with your lobes. Most folks don’t have a ton of sensation or awareness of their lobes already, so you don’t notice them going numb and becoming irritated. Going without plugs in the cold for added circulation helps, just make sure to keep your lobes covered under a hat or scarf.
If you are like me and can’t easily or safely go without jewelry in the cold, consider wearing wood jewelry. Wood is great at absorbing and maintaining body heat, and tends to stay a little warmer in the cold. Oil it well before wearing in the cold, and it also helps keep moisture on your lobes. I personally pair thick wood eyelets with some plug mittens! Little crochet or knitted mittens for your stretched ears which slide easily on and keep everything protected and warm.
Stretched septum and a runny winter nose are always a fun combination, and by fun I mean awful. If you wear a single solid piece, consider swapping from metal to glass or stone during the cold months. Keep your nose covered while outdoors. Careful with eyelets at large sizes which can allow a lot of cold air in- metal eyelets have caused frostbite in stretched septum's before. If you stack, having a runny nose can present an interesting cleaning problem. A steamy shower will soften a lot of debris, and a waterpik on a low setting is great for cleaning your stack without removing everything (although this method is messy).
Winter is a a time of year for rest, for resetting, and for staying inside warm and cozy. But if you enjoy the snow and cold, or if you just have to be outside to shovel or work. Please protect your piercings during these months! Understand how cold weather can effect your skin and thus your piercings, and plan any new piercings accordingly.