How to Care for your Nipple After Piercing
- 13 minutes read
Today, we’ll be discussing the subject “nipple piercing aftercare.” Just like any form of piercing, nipple piercing requires some TLC for proper healing.
You see, some parts of the human body have no problem with healing after piercing. Why? Because they contain a lot of tissue. The nipple, on the other hand, is delicate and adjacent to several vital blood vessels and ducts.
Piercings penetrate your skin, and your skin is your body’s main barrier against infections and infectious agents.
Piercing your skin with a metal object or any foreign object can increase your risk of infection.
Also, nipple piercing does not heal immediately. It takes some time. Piercing, on average, takes between 9-12 months to heal. The time required for healing depends on your body and how best you care for your nipple after piercing. In this article, we will highlight the best ways to care for your nipple after piercing – what you should do, and things you should avoid, the kind of pain you will experience, and the symptoms you should watch out for.
Best nipple piercing aftercare practices
The first few days and weeks following a nipple piercing are very important for aftercare. At this time, the piercing is still fresh and may repair exposed for some time, so it is very susceptible to infectious pathogens. These pathogens may be airborne or may come in through contact with your skin.
Your nipple piercer will instruct you on best nipple aftercare practices. It is important that you follow these instructions as best as you can.
Here’s a detailed guide on nipple piercing aftercare – a guide that will help prevent infections and complications:
How to care for your nipple after piercing
- Have the piercing rinsed a few times every day: Rinsing should be done with warm water, a gentle soap (unscented), and a clean paper, or dry towel. This is very important if there’s still bleeding. Always rinse the piercing each time you shower or have a bath.
- Soak the piercing at least twice every day in sea salt: This should be done for some months after piercing. Put some non-iodized sea salt in a think shot glass. Press the glass against your nipple so that the nipple is immersed in the salt solution. Hold for five minutes, and then drain the solution. Do the same for the other nipple. Alternatively, you may dip some clean cotton balls in the salt solution and dab on the pierced nipple.
- Do not wear tight clothes for the first few months: Wear tight clothes can stop fresh air from getting to the nipples. This leads to the buildup of bacteria. Also, tight clothes make direct contact with the piercing, an action that may cause irritation, and even damage the piercing.
- Wear padded bras or thick clothes during physical activity or at night: This prevents sagging of the piercing and keeps it still when you are on the blankets, playing sports, or working out – all actions which can cause the piercing the get hit.
- Take great care when getting dressed: Some fabrics can stick to the piercing, ripping out the jewelry or pulling on the piercing. This causes pain and increases the risk of infection.
Bad nipple piercing aftercare practices
- Do not use blood-thinning medications or substances: Avoid this for the first few weeks after piercing. Examples of these medications or substances include alcohol, excess caffeine, or aspirin. These substances make it difficult for the piercing to heal. The blood may be unable to clot, thus making bleeding more likely.
- Avoid smoking: Nicotine affects the healing process. Reduce the rate at which you smoke. Alternatively, you may use an e-cigarette with zero nicotine or a nicotine patch with less nicotine if you don’t intend quitting anytime soon.
- Avoid immersing your pierced nipple in baths, spas or pools: There’s the chance that these bodies of water can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria.
- Avoid using harsh cleaning fluids or bar soap: They can cause the skin to crack or dry. This increases the risk of infection. Harsh cleaning fluids include hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or antibacterial soaps of all kinds.
- Avoid touching the piercing with your hands: The human hands have a lot of bacteria on them. These bacteria are picked up from the many objects that we touch each day. A 2017 research found that at least 50% of all mobile phones house colonies of bacteria.
- Do not mess with or fidget with the jewelry while it is healing: Doing so may cause some tears in the skin – tears that can increase the risk of infection.
- Do not try breaking off the crusting with the jewelry around the piercing. You are better off using saline solution and water to soften the crusts, then wipe them off.
- Use OTC ointments or creams only when it is approved by your doctor. Some of these creams or ointments can trap the bacteria in the piercing and increase the likelihood of infection.
The healing process after nipple piercing
Complete healing of a pierced nipple can take up to a year.
You’ll see the following within the first few weeks or months after piercing:
- Bleeding: The skin around your nipple is thin. Thus, bleeding is common and may occur for the first few days. Keep the piercing clean. Wipe any blood away. If the bleeding is consistent (with no cause), then see your piercer.
- Swelling: Swelling accompanies almost any piercing. This explains why many piercers will encourage long barbells in your nipples. The barbells allow the nipple to swell without any obstruction. If the swelling is painful or especially noticeable, then see your piercer. Excessive swelling can cause the death of the tissues and increase the risk of infection.
- Discomfort during menstruation: The nipple becomes extra sensitive during menstruation, mostly during the first few months following the piercing. The intensity of the discomfort decreases the longer you have the piercing. With a cold compress and some NSAIDs, the discomfort can be contained.
- Crusting: Crusting is normal. It is due to the lymph fluids that facilitates the healing process. All you need do is rinse and dry it whenever it builds up.
Is nipple piercing painful?
Pain from nipple piercing differs for everyone. Nipple piercing is more painful than the nose or ear piercing. The reason for this is simple. The nose or ear has thicker tissues. The nerves are also not-so-dense.
Most people who have had their nipple pierced say that the pain is sharp and intense at first because of the thinness and delicate nature of the tissue. the pain doesn’t last for long.
How do you ease the pain from nipple piercing?
The following tips can ease the pain caused by pierced nipples:
- Take analgesics like ibuprofen.
- Apply a cold compress or an ice pack to the pierced area. It reduces swelling.
- Sea salt soak can help promote healing. Use it.
- Tea tree oil can help reduce pain and swelling. Try it out.
You may experience the following side effects after a nipple piercing:
- Hyper granulation: This refers to a thick ring of tissue filled with fluid. Hyper granulation usually occurs around the piercing holes.
- Scarring: Scars can form around the piercing. These include keloid scars whose size is bigger than the pierced area.
- Infection: Bacteria can penetrate the pierced nipples and infect it, causing swelling, pain, and pus. Infections, when left untreated can cause permanent damage to your nipple. The infection may also spread to other parts of your body.
Should you see your doctor after piercing your nipples?
If you think your piercing has been infected or it’s not healing well, then see your doctor.
Symptoms that indicate that you need a doctor include:
- Bleeding that refuses to cease
- The skin around the piercing is hot
- A foul smell oozing from the piercing
- Swelling, or severe pain
- Discolored yellow, green, brown, or cloudy pus or discharge around the pierced area.
- Excessive growth of tissues around the piercing
- Body aches
- Feeling of exhaustion
Tonika Bruce, also known as The Network Nurse, is a multi-talented individual with a career spanning over 20 years. She’s a Registered Nurse, speaker, author, and advocate for change, excelling in business building and team development. Tonika holds two Master’s degrees in Nursing and Business Administration, (MSN & MBA) and is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership.
Her expertise extends to various fields such as nursing, entrepreneurship, business, basketball coaching, and executive leadership. She is a published author of “Relentless Pursuit: Proven Tips for Unlocking Your Potentials, Limitless Success and Post COVID Syndrome: A Guide to Repositioning the Nursing Profession for A Post COVID Era”. Currently, Tonika is working on Thrudemic, an anthology examining the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on medical professionals and patients.