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Piercing Aftercare: Saline Wound Wash VS Contact Solution

When it comes to piercing aftercare, there’s really no argument- Sterile Saline Wound Wash is the ideal product to use for caring for your healing piercings. See, piercings will produce some crust and secretions that need to be cleaned off of the jewelry. And we want to use something gentle and body-safe with which to do that. As the name implies, sterile saline wound wash is sterile- meaning it’s free from any bacteria or containments that could be harmful to your piercings (unlike sea salt or making homemade saline, which can contain all sorts of not-great friends). It’s isotonic, meaning it’s similar to the saline content of our own bodies with good fluid balance. And these days it’s widely accessible in drug stores and piercing studios around the world. It often comes with nozzles that are easy to use with piercings. But if saline is so great for cleaning our piercings with….does any saline work? What about contact saline? Can we use that to clean our piercings?

Many folks may assume they can skip getting saline at their studio or at the pharmacy and just use the contact saline they already have at home. And I can see why at first glance you may think to do this. After all it’s all saline right? So I can use it for my piercings too? Well…your optometrist would cringe to hear you say this. See, there are actually a lot of different types of contact saline and contact solutions on the market, and they all have their own unique uses.

Contact Solution

Contact solution is an important step in the care and maintenance of reusable contact lenses. It is a chemical substance used to clean and store contacts. It removes bacteria, germs, dirt, and other particulates that may have gotten on your lenses during the day, making them safe to wear again. There are many different brands and various types based on your needs- such as for folks with allergies, or people prone to protein buildup. Most contact solutions will contain a binding agent, a buffer, a wetting agent, and some form of preservative, all designed to care for and maintain your contacts.

And this is a very necessary step for keeping contacts clean and safe to rewear. But notice we didn’t discuss piercings, or even wounds, in the uses of contact solution. This is because this is not designed for piercings or wounds. It’s just designed to clean and maintain your contacts. And all of the components of contact solution are important for that! But they are also too harsh to be used on a healing piercing and may cause irritation or issues for it.

Contact Saline

Saline solution is also often a part of folks’ care routine for contacts. It can be used to wet the contact before wearing it or to rinse it off. Contact saline is ideal for preparing contacts to be worn, but not necessarily for putting on a wound. This is because the saline solution that is manufactured for your eyes is specific, pH balanced, sterile, and designed for use in your eyes. Using any other type of saline solution or a homemade solution could result in an eye infection. And using this specific saline designed for your eyes on a wound could cause issues. Now there is some saline on the market for contacts that is the same formulation as wound wash saline. But I’ve found this is few and far between- most contact saline is not going to be the proper balance for wound care. Not only that but modernly most contact saline has many additives included in it. Years ago it was common to have multiple steps involved in lens care, including separate solutions and products to rinse, clean, neutralize, and remove proteins. Today, many people use a single, multipurpose contact solution that can perform all the steps in one go and eliminates the need for a saline solution rinse. Which is perfect for your contacts but not so great for your piercings.

I understand why folks might assume that all saline is the same, or that all contact solution is just saline. But unfortunately, that is not the case! Different types of saline are intended for different uses and have different additives to accommodate for these uses. In order to be as safe as possible and have happy, well-healing piercings, we should use saline designed for wound care. Ideally saline designed for piercing care with a nozzle specifically for cleaning piercings, but if that is not accessible to you any sterile wound wash saline for wound care will work. But I would steer clear of contact saline- since it isn’t meant for wounds! Hope that helps, and happy healing!

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