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Teen Health

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How do I know that my piercing shop is safe and sterile?

Many states regulate body piercing, but not all. Before getting your piercing, you should always check for these signs of a safe piercing environment:

  • The piercer washes his or her hands with germicidal soap.
  • The piercer wears fresh disposable gloves.
  • The shop is clean.
  • The shop uses an autoclave (a special sterilizing machine).
  • The equipment is sterilized or disposable.
  • The needle is new and disposed of in a special container after use.

Should I get pierced with a piercing gun or a needle?

Needles are generally considered cleaner and easier to sterilize than piercing guns. Your piercer should only use a piercing gun that is for one-time use or has sterilized disposable cassettes.

Piercing guns should only be used on earlobe piercings. That's because they can cause more damage to the skin tissue than needles. 

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).

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