Aftercare

Tattoos

Art Addiction Tattoo Aftercare

The first few days and weeks for a new tattoo are probably the most important for your new tattoo. Make sure you care for it properly!

Leave the bandage that you received after the tattoo on for 2 to 10 hours. Tattoos will ooze, this is a normal part of the healing process. The bandage is there to keep air-born bacteria and any other contaminants in the environment from invading your wound.

  • Make sure you hands have been washed thoroughly before you remove the bandage.
  • After removing the bandage cleanse the tattoo area with soap and water. Do not scrub the tattoo with a brush or towel (this should not be done until the tattoo has healed). The idea behind the washing is to eliminate any dead cells that have been allowed to accumulate on the surface.
  • Dry the tattoo area by gently patting the area with a clean, sterile towel.
  • Let the tattoo dry completely (approx 10 minutes).
  • Lightly rub on a thin layer of antibiotic ointment, such as Tattoo Aftercare.
  • You do not need to re-bandage.
  • Repeat steps above for three - four days, approximately 6 times a day. The antibiotic cream should not be used for more than 3-4 days (read the directions on the ointment); switch to a fragrance free lotion. The idea behind this part of the process is to NOT let the tattoo dry out. The ointment should be applied heavily enough to look shiny. Too thin and the surface can dry and prolong healing. You may need to apply more or less often, depending on you and your environment (again consult the directions for the ointment for proper application).

After a few days you may notice some peeling and possibly a little scabbing. It is at this point in the healing process that your tattoo will begin to itch. RESIST THE URGE TO SATISFY YOUR DESIRE TO SCRATCH, RUB, OR PICK at the tattoo!!!

DO NOT:

Go swimming, or soak in a hot tub or bath.
Use hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol on your tattoo.
Itch, pick, or scratch the tattoo

DO:

Stay out of the sun until your tattoo has healed completely.
Apply sun block to tattoo after it has healed whenever it is exposed to the sun to protect it from damaging ultraviolet rays.

Piercings

Body Piercing Aftercare Instructions

What To Expect

  • Initially, some bleeding, localized swelling, tenderness or bruising.
  • During healing: Some discoloration, itching, secretion of a whitish-yellow fluid (not pus) that will form crust on the jewelry. The tissue may tighten around the jewelry as it heals.
  • Once healed: The jewelry may not move freely in the piercing; DO NOT force it. If you fail to include cleaning your piercing as part of your daily hygiene routine, normal but smelly bodily secretions may accumulate.
  • A piercing may seem healed before healing is complete. This is because piercings heal from the outside in, and although it feels healed the tissue remains fragile on the inside.
  • BE PATIENT, and keep cleaning throughout the entire healing period.

What To Do

  • WASH YOUR HANDS prior to touching the piercing; leave it alone except when cleaning. It is not necessary to rotate the jewelry while healing except possibly during cleaning.
  • Make sure that your jewelry and skin is free from any discharge before you attempt to move the jewelry. Irritation can occur when crusty matter is accidentally forced into the piercing.
  • Stay healthy! Eat a nutritious diet. The healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal. Exercise during healing is fine; just listen to your body.
  • Make sure your bedding is kept clean and changed regularly. Wear clean, comfortable, breathable clothing that protects your piercing while sleeping.
  • Showering is safer than taking a bath, because bathtubs tend to harbor bacteria. If you would like to take a bath, clean the tub well before each use.

Cleaning Solutions
Use the following solutions for cleaning body piercings:

  • Packaged sterile sea salt solution with no additives (e.g. H2Ocean) OR non-iodized sea salt mixture: Dissolve 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized (iodine-free) sea salt into one cup (8 oz) of warm distilled or bottled water. A stronger mixture is not better! Sea salt solution that is too strong can irritate the piercing.
  • Liquid anti-microbial or germicidal soap, such as Provon.

Cleaning Instructions for Body Piercings

  • WASH your hands thoroughly with anti-microbial or germicidal soap prior to cleaning, or touching on or near your piercing.
  • SEA SALT soak at least two to three times daily. If using H2Ocean, simply spray and let dry. If using sea salt mixture, invert a cup of warm sea salt solution over the area to form a vacuum for a few minutes. The longer you soak, the better. For certain placements, it may be easier to apply using fresh gauze or a cotton ball saturated in sea salt solution. A brief rinse will remove any residue.
  • SOAP no more than once or twice a day. While showering, lather up a pearl size drop of the soap to clean the jewelry and the piercing. Leave the cleanser on the piercing no more than thirty seconds, then rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of the soap from the piercing.
  • DRY with disposable paper products such as gauze or tissues, because cloth towels can harbor bacteria and catch on new piercings causing injury. Pat gently to avoid trauma.

What To Avoid

  • Avoid undue trauma such as friction from clothing, excessive motion of the area, playing with the jewelry and vigorous cleaning. These activities can cause the formation of unsightly and uncomfortable scar tissue, migration, prolonged healing and other complications.
  • Avoid the use of alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Betadine, Hibiclens or ointment.
  • Avoid over cleaning. This can delay your healing and irritate your piercing.
  • Avoid all oral contact, rough play, and contact with others' bodily fluids on or near your piercing during healing.
  • Avoid stress and recreational drug use including excessive caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
  • Avoid submerging the piercing in bodies of water such as lakes, pools, jacuzzis, etc. Or protect your piercing using a special water-proof bandage such as Tegaderm, which is available at drug stores.
  • Avoid all beauty and personal care products on or around the piercing including cosmetics, lotions, sprays, etc.
  • Don't hang charms or any other object from your jewelry until the piercing is fully healed.

Hints and Tips

  • Unless there is a problem with the size, style, or material of the initial jewelry, leave it in place for the entire healing period. A qualified piercer should perform any necessary jewelry change that occurs during healing.
  • Contact your piercer if your jewelry must be temporarily removed (such as for a medical procedure). There are non-metallic jewelry alternatives.
  • Leave jewelry in at all times. Even old, well healed piercings can shrink and close in minutes after having been there for years! If removed re-insertion can be difficult or impossible.
  • With clean hands or paper product, be sure to regularly check the threaded ends on your jewelry for tightness.
  • Carry a clean spare ball in case of loss or breakage.
  • Should you decide you no longer want the piercing, seek professional help in the removal of the jewelry and continue cleaning the piercing until the hole closes. In most cases only a small indentation will remain.

Immediately contact your healthcare provider at any signs of abnormal swelling, inflammation, or infection. Do not remove your jewelry if you have signs of infection. The holes must remain open to prevent an abscess from forming.

For Particular Areas

Navel

  • A hard, vented eye patch (sold at pharmacies) can be applied under tight clothing (such as nylon stockings) or secured using a length of ace bandage around the body (to avoid irritation from adhesive). This can protect the area from restrictive clothing, excess irritation, and impact during physical activities such as contact sports.

Ear/Ear Cartilage and Facial

  • Use the t-shirt trick: dress your pillow in a large, clean t-shirt and turn it nightly; one clean t-shirt provides four clean surfaces for sleeping.
  • Maintain cleanliness of telephones, headphones, eyeglasses, helmets, hats and anything that contacts the pierced area.
  • Use caution when styling your hair and advise your stylist of a new or healing piercing.

Nipple

  • The support of a tight cotton shirt or sports bra may provide protection and feel comfortable, especially for sleeping.

Tongue/Lip (Labret)/Cheek

  • Swelling will normally occur within the first 72 hours. It is important to drink lots of cold liquids and gently suck on ice to help minimize the swelling. Use ice 30 minutes on, 30 minutes off to help keep maximum blood flow.
  • Don't share plates, cups, or eating utensils with others. Replace your toothbrush and keep it clean during the healing period. Keep dirty fingers, pencils, sunglasses etc. out of your mouth.
  • Avoid excessive talking, playing with the jewelry and all oral sexual contact (including wet kissing) during the healing time.
  • Check that the threaded ends of the jewelry are on securely. Tighten them each day to ensure the jewelry stays in place.
  • Those with tongue piercings should be cautioned that playing with the jewelry excessively is frequently the cause of reported tooth and gum damage and should be avoided.

Estimated Healing Times

  • Earlobe 6-8 weeks
  • Ear Cartilage 4-12 months
  • Eyebrow 2-4 months
  • Nostril 2-8 months
  • Septum 6-8 months
  • Lip/Labret/Monroe 2-6 months
  • Tongue 3-6 months
  • Nipple 2-6 months
  • Navel 6-12 months


Oral Piercing Aftercare Instructions

What To Expect

  • Swelling of the area is perfectly normal during the first part of healing an oral piercing. It can be greatly reduced by gently sucking (rather than chewing) on clean ice. Chipped or shaved ice, or small cubes are best. The majority of the swelling usually lasts for only 3-5 days.
  • Any new piercing can bleed off and on for a few days. There can also be some bleeding under the surface resulting in temporary bruising or discoloration. This is perfectly normal and not indicative of any complication.
  • Some tenderness or discomfort in the area of a new piercing is not unusual. You may feel aching, pinching, tightness or other unpleasant sensations off and on for several days or longer.
  • Don't be alarmed if you see a fairly liquid, yellowish secretion coming from the piercing. This is blood plasma, lymph and dead cells which is perfectly normal. All healing piercings secrete, it just looks different inside the mouth as it doesn't have a chance to dry and form a crust as it does on ear or body piercings. This is not pus, but indicates a healing piercing.
  • Plaque may form on tongue jewelry, commonly on the bottom ball and/or post. Scrub your barbell with a soft bristled toothbrush (gently during healing). If you are diligent with oral hygiene the jewelry will not need to be removed for cleaning, and it can usually be left in even for routine visits to the dentist.
  • Piercings may have a tendency to have a series of ups and downs during healing by seeming healed and then regressing. Try to be patient, and do keep cleaning during the entire initial healing time, even if the piercing seems healed sooner.
  • Once initial swelling is down, having your piercer replace the post portion of bar style jewelry with a shorter post may be wise. Jewelry which fits more closely is less likely to irritate your mouth or get between your teeth and be bitten.
  • If you like your piercing, leave jewelry in at all times. Even healed piercings can shrink or close in minutes after having been there for years! This varies from person to person and even if your ear lobe piercings stay opens without jewelry your oral piercing may not!
  • Keep following the care procedures during the entire minimum initial healing time, even if the piercing seems healed sooner.


What To Do

  • Try to sleep with your head propped up on pillows during the first few nights of healing; keeping your head above your heart will help to avoid much initial overnight swelling.
  • An over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, etc.) taken according to package instructions can reduce discomfort, and it can also help to diminish swelling the first few days.
  • Check twice daily with clean hands to be sure the threaded ends on your jewelry are on tight. To clean hands, wash them carefully with liquid antibacterial soap. If your hands aren't freshly washed, don't touch yourself above the neck during the initial healing time.
  • Replace your toothbrush and make sure to keep it clean so that everything that goes into your mouth is hygienic while you are healing. A sensitive type of toothpaste may be less irritating to your mouth during healing than a usual, stronger variety.
  • Try to go slowly when you eat and to take small bites when you are getting used to your new jewelry. Cold foods and beverages feel great and can help diminish swelling. Drink plenty of liquids, especially bottled water.
  • Get enough sleep and eat a nutritious diet. The healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal.

Cleaning Solutions

  • An alcohol-free antimicrobial or antibacterial mouth rinse should be used according to package instructions. Two examples are Tech 2000 and Biotene. Listerine may be used by diluting 50/50 with distilled or bottled water.
  • Mild sea salt water rinses: Dissolve a pinch (1/4 teaspoon) non-iodized (iodine-free) sea salt to one cup (8 oz.) warm to hot distilled or bottled water. (Avoid hot water for the first few days.)

Cleaning Instructions for Oral Piercings

  • Rinse mouth for 30-60 seconds with solution (see Cleaning Solutions above) after meals during the entire minimum initial healing time. Do not use more than 4-5 times daily and use it over intervals spaced throughout the entire day.
  • Rinse mouth briefly (10-15 seconds) with the mild sea salt mixture (see recipe above) no more than twice a day. If you are cleaning too often, the top of your tongue will start to turn a white to yellowish color. Continue to clean your piercing, but reduce the number of times you are cleaning it per day.
  • A new soft bristled toothbrush should be purchased, to help reduce the bacteria that is introduced into your mouth. Do not use toothpaste containing peroxide.

What To Avoid

  • No oral sexual contact including French (wet) kissing or oral sex during the entire initial healing period, even if you are in a monogamous relationship. (If you had a large cut you would not allow anyone to spit into it! This is essentially the same thing.)
  • Avoid chewing on gum, tobacco, fingernails, pencils, sunglasses, etc., during healing. Don't share plates, cups or eating utensils. Reducing smoking or quitting is highly advisable when healing an oral piercing. Smoking increases risks and can lengthen the healing time. Avoid undue stress and recreational drug usage.
  • Stay away from aspirin, large amounts of caffeine, beer, wine, and dairy products (i.e. milk, cottage cheese) for the first several days. These can cause additional swelling, bleeding and discomfort. Refrain from eating spicy, salty, acidic, or hot temperature foods and beverages for a few days.
  • Do not play with the piercing for the initial healing time beyond the necessary movement for speaking and eating. The mouth withstands a lot of trauma from normal speaking and eating. Try to avoid other disturbances such as excessive talking, actively playing with the jewelry, or clicking the jewelry against your teeth. Undue stress on the piercing can cause the formation of unsightly and uncomfortable scar tissue, migration and other complications.
  • Even after healing, excessive play with oral jewelry can result in permanent damage to teeth, gums, and oral structures. Metal is harder than the human body; be gentle.
  • Do not use Listerine (or other mouthwash which contains alcohol) at full strength. It can irritate the area and delay healing. If using Listerine (or another alcohol based mouthwash), be sure to dilute it 50/50 with distilled or bottled water.
  • Don't use too many different products; select and use only one cleaning solution plus sea salt.


Hints and Tips

  • Some piercees will carry a spare ball in their wallet or purse. This is particularly advisable if you wear non-metallic balls such as acrylic, which is more fragile.
  • On barbells/labret studs you may change the ball portion of the jewelry at any time, but the original post should remain until initial swelling is down.

Immediately contact your healthcare provider at any signs of abnormal swelling, inflammation, or infection. Do not remove your jewelry if you have signs of infection. The holes must remain open to prevent an abscess from forming.

For Particular Areas

Tongue

  • Try to focus on keeping your tongue level in your mouth to avoid biting on the jewelry as you eat. Your mouth is likely to feel uncoordinated at first, but this will pass.
  • Try eating small bites of solid foods by placing food directly onto the molars with clean fingers or a fork. Food that is already in the back of the mouth doesn't have to get moved there by your tongue.
  • Gently brush your tongue and jewelry when you are healing. Once healed brush tongue and jewelry thoroughly to keep plaque away.

LIP / CHEEK

  • Be cautious about opening your mouth wide when you eat, as this can result in the backing of the jewelry catching on your teeth. Take small bites and go slowly at first.
  • The outside of the piercing may become somewhat red or pink during healing and this is normal. Refer to the "Body Piercing Aftercare" page for instructions on how to care for the exterior surface of such a piercing.


Estimated Healing Times

  • Earlobe 6-8 weeks
  • Ear Cartilage 4-12 months
  • Eyebrow 2-4 months
  • Nostril 2-8 months
  • Septum 6-8 months
  • Lip/Labret/Monroe 2-6 months
  • Tongue 3-6 months
  • Nipple 2-6 months
  • Navel 6-12 months

Each body is unique and healing times vary considerably.