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How long will it take for my piercing to heal?

Healing times can vary depending on the location of the piercing. Here are the average healing times for common piercings:

  • Earlobe: 6 to 8 weeks
  • Ear cartilage: 4 months to 1 year
  • Eyebrow: 6 to 8 weeks
  • Nostril: 2 to 4 months
  • Nasal septum: 6 to 8 months
  • Tongue: 4 weeks
  • Lip: 2 to 3 months
  • Belly button: 4 months to 1 year

Remember, with mouth or lip piercing, jewelry can cause cracks in your teeth or receding gums. Lip piercings and mouth piercings can get infected more easily.

How can I care for my new piercing?

Your piercer will give you specific instructions for cleaning your piercing. Here are some general dos and don'ts for new piercings:


  • Wash your hands before cleaning the piercing.
  • Clean the pierced area with antibacterial soap.
  • Soak the piercing in salt water. This will cleanse it and loosen crusty formations.
  • Rinse with an alcohol-free, antibacterial mouthwash (for tongue and lip piercings).


  • Pick at or touch the piercing. This can irritate it and lead to infection.
  • Use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to clean the piercing. This can dry out your skin and break down new tissue.
  • Use public pools or hot tubs while the piercing is healing.
  • Use antibiotic ointments on the piercing.
  • Wear makeup during the healing process (for ear or facial piercings).
  • Wear tight clothes (for body piercings).

What happens if my piercing becomes infected?

Some temporary pain or swelling is normal after a piercing. But if pain continues, it could mean an infection.

Be extra careful if you get an oral piercing. These are more susceptible to infection because of bacteria in the mouth. Contact with jewelry against the teeth can also cause your teeth to crack or chip.

Watch out for these signs of infection:

  • Pain that does not go away after a day or two
  • Unusual pain or swelling
  • Yellow, bad-smelling discharge
  • Prolonged bleeding
  • Excessive redness

If you think your piercing may be infected:

  • Don't take out the jewelry. This will cause the hole to close up and may trap the infection.
  • See your doctor for treatment.

What if I am sensitive to metal?

Some people have sensitivities to certain kinds of metal jewelry. Signs you could be allergic to your new piercing include:

  • Redness
  • Itching or burning when piercing is cleaned
  • Rash surrounding the piercing

 To avoid an allergic reaction, use only nontoxic metals, such as:

  • Surgical-grade steel
  • 14- or 18-karat gold
  • Titanium
  • Niobium
  • Platinum

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on February 29, 2012

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