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New Piercings- What is Normal?

Congratulations! You’ve just gotten a new body piercing which is very exciting. Maybe it's your very first piercing ever, or maybe you have a ton and this is another to add to the collection. Either way, few things compare to the excitement and endorphin rush from getting a brand-new body piercing. The first few days and weeks are some of the most exciting- getting to show off your new piercing to friends and family, taking lots of photos or selfies, and also getting into the habit of your newfound aftercare routine to actually heal your new piercing. And as piercers, we often spend ages educating our clients about aftercare- how your piercing is going to heal, how to take care of it, and all the important things! But what about what to expect from your new piercing initially? A piercing is a wound and that means all sorts of interesting reactions can happen in your body in response to this new wound and foreign object.

As someone who spends a ton of time helping clients with piercing questions and piercing healing one of the most common genres of questions I get is “is this normal??” Folks with very recent piercings wondering if the things they are experiencing are supposed to happen or are a sign something is very wrong. And these are great questions to ask! Particularly for new clients who aren’t experienced at healing and may be unsure of what to realistically expect. Even for more experienced clients getting a new piercing outside of their usual comfort zone. So today's blog post is all about what you can expect with a fresh piercing- and what warrants a checkup with your piercer.

Bleeding is Normal

Of the questions I get about normal things for recent piercings, the biggest is always about bleeding. Thanks to modern piercing tools and techniques piercers have a lot in their arsenal to minimize bleeding- many of my clients leave my studio without ever seeing a drop of blood. So imagine their surprise the next day when they clean their piercings and ah! Blood! It can be scary and nerve-wracking to see your brand-new piercing bleed. But it’s also very normal. After all- we are poking holes in your body. Bleeding is generally a side effect of that!

Minimal to moderate bleeding during the first 1-2 weeks of healing any body piercing is pretty normal. The piercing is a very fresh wound, and that means blood. Oftentimes times during cleaning we can accidentally break the scab keeping the piercing from bleeding and cause some to happen. Likewise, a bump, catch, or snag on the piercing can do the same. You can apply gentle pressure with some non-woven gauze to help staunch the bleeding, and it should stop after a minute or two. Don’t be alarmed if this happens initially with your fresh piercing.

Some piercings are more prone to bleeding than others. For example, many genital piercings are often notorious for having quite a bit of bleeding when they are initially done. If you are getting a piercing that may come with more bleeding during healing your piercer should warn you about that and also go over any necessary care to assist with that.

Be aware that things like drinking alcohol, drinking caffeine, and various medications can all be blood thinners. So if you go out to the bar the night after getting a fresh piercing, you may make a bit of a mess. Use common sense when it comes to these activities and warn your piercer if you take medications that could cause excessive bleeding.

If bleeding doesn’t stop after a few minutes of gentle pressure, or if you are bleeding an excessive amount, I would contact your piercer right away with some photos of what’s going on and check in with them to see if you need further care.

Crust is Normal….and so is the lack of it

Many folks know that piercings produce debris during the healing process, most affectionately known as “crusties”. These little bits are normal secretions that are a byproduct of the healing process. It’s often a liquid secretion in an off-whitish, pale yellowish, or pale pinkish color that dries around the jewelry into said little crusties. During the healing process of a piercing you’ll deal with this on and off, and a large part of piercing aftercare is gently cleaning this away.

So many folks know to expect this crust or secretion during healing that I get tons of messages from folks with 1 and 2-day-old piercings who haven’t gotten any yet and are panicked! “Lynn I haven’t seen any crust at all on my piercing! Is this normal? Should it be like this?”

I can’t lie, I chuckle a little when I get these messages. I wish I healed with minimal crust! See, our bodies are all incredibly different from one another. Some people produce a lot more of that crust, and have to clean it many times a day. Others produce a lot less, sometimes going days without there being anything to clean off their new piercing! Nothing in the piercing industry is one size fits all, and that includes healing. This means it’s totally normal if you don’t produce much or any crust. Some folks never will. For many, it’s a bit of a delayed process, and they don’t start seeing the normal secretions of their piercings for the first few weeks. Either way, not a cause for concern if you don’t!

On the flip side, if your body is producing a ton of crust or it's very largely built-up around the jewelry and impossible to get off yourself, you may want to follow up with your piercer for an in-person cleaning and checkup. Some folks just naturally produce more crust during the healing process (like me!).


Swelling is a very common part of getting a new piercing. In fact it's so common we actually start initial piercings off with different jewelry to accommodate for that swelling- you can read about that here.

Swelling is part of our bodies’ natural wound-healing process, known as the inflammation phase of healing. It’s actually a sign our bodies are already hard at work mending our injuries. With a fresh piercing this is perfectly normal and to be expected. Some piercings, most notably oral piercings and more strenuous on your body ear piercings like industrials and triple forward helixes often come with more swelling than most. Your piercer should pierce you with jewelry that accommodates for that swelling, and discuss any concerns from that with you.

That being said, the perfect jewelry that accommodates for swelling is different every time- just like every client and body is. Deciding what length and jewelry to use for an initial piercing is not an exact science. That means piercers will be right sometimes, but also wrong sometimes. If jewelry feels too tight, or either end starts to sink into the skin, that’s a sign you need to head to your piercer for a checkup and likely a swap to something longer. Likewise, when that swelling goes down, you may need to swap to something shorter aka downsize.

Soreness and Tenderness

Like I mentioned, a piercing is a wound. And no wound feels great to touch or mess with right after you’ve gotten it! Piercings are no exception. Swelling often comes with tenderness to the touch- and boy howdy can new piercings feel tender. Do your best to avoid unnecessary touches, movements, or playing with new piercings in order to allow the tenderness and swelling to improve enough to get back at it. Now some piercings may be more tender than others- things like industrials and orbitals, or doing a bunch of ear piercings at once- probably more tender. Oral piercings, especially tongue and lip piercings that affect eating and talking- probably more tender.

Tenderness shouldn’t be mistaken for pain, however. If your piercing seems abnormally or even excruciatingly painful, I would get a checkup with your piercer to see what may be causing you this discomfort.


It may surprise you to learn that while uncommon, bruising is normal with a fresh piercing. I see it the most often with eyebrow and lip piercings- areas with a lot of blood flow in them. But it can happen anywhere- a navel, a nipple, even an earlobe! If you experiencing bruising I always suggest following up with your piercer as a precaution- even though they’ll likely tell you everything is normal and you are fine. And of course, don’t hesitate to come up with a cool fight story to explain the epic bruise you have for a few days. Or do what my client Mena did when her eyebrow gave her a nice black eye- do some eyeshadow to match the other side!


Itching is a very normal, and very annoying part of the healing process. Many piercings will feel itchy on and off during the healing time, but most notably in the first few weeks or months. And this is a sign that your body is healing as intended, it’s actually a good thing! But it can still be very frustrating to deal with. Taking a nice hot shower, ensuring the piercing is clean, and trying your best to leave it alone is the best thing you can do to soothe that itch.

A new piercing is a super exciting time, but it can also be a little nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing. Especially if you don’t know what to expect! I hope this blog can help soothe any worries, and also help you prepare for the first week or two with your new piercing. Happy healing!

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