The various procedures one takes in order to properly heal new body piercings and tattoos. This is almost as important as the "No piercing guns!" rule - most people who get in trouble have ignored their aftercare instructions. Considering the relatively unlicensced nature of body modification, it's no surprise that there's a large number of different schools of thought on the topic, but there's basics that nearly everyone agrees upon.

First, some instructions on preparing to go in for a body piercing or tattoo. Make sure you get a good night sleep so your body will be more able to handle the shock. Get a good meal one or two hours before so you won't faint or have a problem with blood sugar levels. If you do those two simple things, it will hurt a lot less, and you probably won't pass out. Make sure not to take any anti-coagulants before, as you'll bleed far more and heal slower. In other words, no alcohol, aspirin or vitamin E. I suggest no caffeine either, but do as you wish.

After the procedure, make sure to sit down and get something with a high sugar content, like Gatorade and such, if you feel woozy. Make sure to avoid anti-coagulants for a while. That night, start your regiment of daily care.

Tattoo aftercare:

  • Leave the bandage on overnight.
  • The next day, clean with soap and water and apply a thin coating of antibiotic ointment. Repeat when necessary and for the next two days.
  • Keep the area clean. If you wish, you can use a small amount of vaseline to prevent crusting and itching.
  • Do not go swimming or sunbathing while healing the tattoo.
  • Don't pick at the scab, and be gentle - don't have the shower stream hit the new tattoo, for example.

Piercing aftercare is slightly more complicated due to the various types of piercings. Some basic tips:

  • Do not use hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, iodine or Betadine for aftercare. These products are far too harsh and tend to dry out the piercing while killing new cells.
  • Wash your hands with soap before dealing with new piercings.
  • For most piercings, soap and water should be sufficient. Clean twice a day, gently removing crusties. After cleaning the body jewelry off, rotate the jewelry and wash again in order to completely clean the piercing. Dry using a tissue or cotton swab. Avoid cleaning too much - this can cause problems as well.
  • Soaks with saline solution can help with irritation and circulation. Use 1/4 teaspoon of salt per 8 ounces of warm, not hot, water. You can simply dunk it or use a cotton swab.
  • Avoid possible sources of infection. This includes hair, bedding, clothes, telephones, hats and other people's bodily fluids. Swimming in hot tubs or pools is a very bad idea. If you have a lower body piercing, avoid taking baths for a while.
  • Watch for sources of irritation. If you suddenly change soaps, shampoos or laundry detergents, you can irritate the piercing. Cosmetics should also be avoided.
  • After it's healed, make sure to clean the piercing on a regular basis when you bathe or shower. This avoids a buildup of dead cells and the resulting smell and irritation.

Special instructions for oral piercings:

  • For the first few weeks use mouthwash every time you eat, drink anything but water or smoke. Even better, don't smoke. I suggest not drinking alcohol either. If you use a mouthwash with an alcohol content such as Listerine, make sure to dilute it by half with water. Try to obtain an alcohol-free mouthwash. Get a new toothbrush.
  • Salt mouth washes are a good idea. They help with discharge and healing. 1/4 teaspoon salt to 8 ounces of water, warm, not hot.
  • No kissing or other bodily fluid exchanges for the first two weeks, and then mouthwash afterwards.
  • If it's a tongue piercing, it will swell. A lot, and your jaw will ache. Take ibuprofen for pain and less swelling, and eat ice almost constantly.
  • For a tongue piercing, some small amount of discharge is normal, usually of a sticky and white nature. Get concerned if it's dark yellow or green - you probably have an infection.
  • Read foods to eat after getting a tongue piercing.
  • If it's a lip piercing or labret piercing, clean the inside like an oral piercing and the outside like a normal body piercing.

Special instructions for genital piercings:

  • Clean them just like body piercings, but watch out for soap. Don't let it enter the urethra or vagina. Your urine is sterile and does not require cleaning, as long as you don't have a bladder infection or urinary tract infection.
  • Some bleeding is relatively normal due to high blood circulation. Prince Alberts, Ampallangs, Apradravyas and Triange piercings can bleed profusely for the first several days - past that is a warning sign.
  • No unprotected sex. This should always be a rule, but especially now. Avoid even the slightest touch of other people's bodily fluids. You should wait a while before masturbation or sex depending on piercing. When it's healed, it should not hurt - stop if it does.

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