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Depression and Piercings

Mental health struggles can effect your entire life. A bad bout of depression or anxiety can impact your mental health, physical health, and your ability to keep up with many tasks. Self care is often one of the first things that can slip when we are struggling with our mental health. And this is a common struggle- look at the millions of posts and videos online about peoples “depression rooms”, about finding more manageable ways to shower or wash your hair, tricks to remember to brush your teeth. And there is no shame in these things- depression and mental illness can effect all of us, and some times are going to be worse then others.

And when your self care is effected, that often can extend to your piercings. If you don’t have the energy to shower and brush your teeth, you may not have the energy to clean your piercings. If you aren’t eating well and sleeping right, that can limit how much energy your body has for healing things. However, not cleaning and caring for your piercings can lead to irritation and issues. And many clients struggle with feeling shame and fear around these problems, which prevents them from reaching out to a piercer. This in turn can make the issues worse. It becomes a vicious cycle with healing and irritation. This blog post is for anyone whose ever been in this situation, or may find themselves in that situation. And I am writing much of this from my own experiences with depression, self care, and piercings. So know this is a safe space, and you do not need to feel ashamed about your health or health of your piercings. I’ve been there too.

It’s ok, really.

The first piece of advice I can give to you is that it’s ok. I promise, it is. Often times the shame we feel surrounding our depression or our “failure” makes the situation much worse. We beat ourselves up for missing a day of cleaning or care, and that makes us want to give up the next day. We feel too ashamed to reach out to a friend or piercer for help, and we try to bottle up what we are dealing with. So the very biggest piece of advice I can give is that it’s ok. It’s ok not to feel well, it’s ok to be slacking on self care or cleaning, and it’s ok to need to ask for help. I promise most piercers have dealt with mental health struggles ourselves and know what this is like. A good piercer won’t judge or shame you, but be there to support you and help you however we can.

Smaller steps may be easier

You can simplify your routine and cleaning to make it feel easier and more manageable. Rather than full cleaning every day, maybe try to get in a quick clean once a day, or every other day. Try to add cleaning your piercing into your normal self care routine so it all gets done at once. This can help make cleaning your piercing more manageable, and also may help motivate you to practice some self care. Taking a few extra moments in the shower to let the shower water run over the piercing can help clean away a lot of crust and debris. If things have gotten very built up, taking a damp q-tip or a toothpick and gently removing the debris can help. If your studio stocks saline wipes, these can be easier for some to remember to use then saline spray, and you can keep them by your bedside to easily give your piercings a quick clean. If you are out of saline and don’t feel up to getting more, clean water can be used in place of saline and works just as well. Please don’t use any harsh chemicals like alcohol, peroxide, hibiclense, ointments, or other etc chemicals on your piercing. Even if you have it in the house. Just saline or clean water is all you need!

Ask for Help

If you are struggling with your piercings or notice that they are getting irritated don’t hesitate to ask for help from your piercer. You don’t even have to explain the situation, you can just mention there’s some irritation going on and ask what they think! A piercer’s job isn’t just doing your piercing, its also helping you heal your piercing and helping troubleshoot any issues. We are here for you for the entire healing process, even if things aren’t going exactly as planned! Many studios offer cleanings and checkups, and if you are feeling a bit better you can pop in to have a piercer professionally clean things, check the jewelry, and help you get a restart so you can continue with regular maintenance. If there is a lot of build and debris that you can’t remove on your own, or if the piercing is very irritated, seeing a piercer can really help get you back on track. And again, a good piercer won’t judge you for this happening! Just support you in fixing things and getting your piercing healthy and happy again.

LITHA- Leave It The Heck Alone

A philosophy of healing in the piercing industry is lithe or leave it the heck alone. This is a very hands off, less is more solution to healing. While this doesn’t work for all clients or climates, it can work for many. If you know you have been feeling off and you think regular cleaning will be hard, I would ask your piercer about litha, ask any advice they may have for you and your piercing, and see if they can walk you through a more hands off aftercare approach. If you know depression and self care can often be issues you could even ask about this at the time of piercing and see if this would be a better fit for you for the entire healing process.

Sometimes, we need to start over

Unfortunately, some piercings are more high maintenance and need a lot of regular care. And if not given that care they can sometime fail. If your piercing has gotten to that point, your piercer may suggest removing it and redoing it when you are in a better place to be able to heal it. I know that can be devastating to hear, but as someone who has had to do this for their piercings, it’s also honestly sometimes the lesser of two evils. Now as an adult and with my education I would much rather remove and redo a piercing when I’m ready and able to care for it, then struggle and fight with large irritations or issues, which can require a ton of work to heal. Sometimes it really is easiest to start over, and that’s ok! There is no shame in hitting the reset button and giving things a better chance at healing and being healthy.

Start for Success

Obviously all of this advice applies to what to do if your piercing is already there and having a hard time. But what about getting pierced? If you know depression and self care can be a struggle for you, how can you set yourself up for a successful piercing rather than a rough heal? Well, start with simple piercings. Let your piercer know you care concerned with healing and care, and you want to start easier. They can look at your anatomy and suggest what placements may be easier for you to heal with your body! In the same vein you can also start with simpler jewelry thats going to be easier to keep clean. A classic titanium ball or disc is perfect for healing, and if you want some bling a bezel set gem can be easier to keep clean than prong setting or large decorative pieces. And then if you have a fancy piece in mind, that can help be motivation to get things healed up enough to safely wear it! Also do your research on aftercare before hand- know what you’ll need for cleaning, how much time each day cleaning may take, and what you’ll need to do. Being prepared and knowing exactly what you are signing up for really helps.

Depression can effect all of us, and can make it very hard to care for our minds, bodies, and souls. Our piercings are no exception to that, and can and do become effected by our depression and self care. And that’s ok and nothing at all the be ashamed of. I hope this article helps you find some advice and answers, and I ho hope no matter where you are in life the next few days and weeks are easier and brighter for you. Know my inbox on IG and email are always open, and are a safe space to ask for questions and advice without judgement or shame. We are all in this together, and we can lean on each other when we need it.

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I actually had a bout of depression help me learn how my body best heals piercings. I wasnt able to do anything to my piercing (cleaning etc.) And noticed that my irritation had gone down. I learned that everyday crusty removals actually hinder my healing and just leaving them alone with a gentle wipe every couple of days is best for me! (The only positive thing my depression ever did for me)


Shyla Rose
Shyla Rose
Jul 16, 2021

I absolutely adore you for writing this post. It's something I struggle with.

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