Category Archives: Body Piercing Aftercare

We all want to keep our stretchings at a certain size, but downsizing your stretched ears is often a great way to keep them healthy. You can downsize your stretchings permanently or temporarily. Downsizing allows your stretched ears to heal and recover from a variety of problems, from minor irritation to serious problems such as ear thinning. If the problem is serious you may have to stay at a smaller gauge, but in many cases you will be able to re-stretch your ears after they have recovered sufficiently.

I recommend downsizing stretched ears (at least temporarily) as a possible solution for: sudden soreness that will not go away despite a salt soak; tearing; uneven stretching; ear thinning and any injury to your earlobe. Downsizing your ears allows your ears to heal. The resulting lobe is usually more resistant to minor issues but remains easy to re-stretch. However if your problem recurs despite downsizing, you may have to downsize permanently.

How To Downsize Your Ears

The method for downsizing stretched ears is very simple: remove your jewellery and allow your ears to shrink at least 2mm. I recommend cleaning your ears thoroughly with a salt soak and massaging with jojoba oil – provided the skin is unbroken, You can then either leave your ears without jewellery or insert smaller jewellery to prevent too much shrinking. Give your ears a while to heal and keep a close eye on them. I recommend leaving your ears alone for at least a month before re-stretching. Re-stretching downsized ears is usually fairly simple – just go slowly and listen to your body at every step.

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


During the process of stretching your ears you may notice an unfortunate side effect – the smell! Some people are lucky enough to never suffer from ear funk but it is common when you first stretch your ears. It may not be pleasant but never fear – stretched ear odour is completely normal and easy to get rid of.

So what causes the stretched ear odour? Odour is the result of sebum and dead skin cells being trapped between your skin and jewellery. Your skin produces oil called sebum that keeps it soft and healthy, as well as shedding dead skin cells. This happens all over your body, but if these products become trapped under jewellery, they can lead to odour. It does not mean that your ears are disgusting, but they do need to be kept clean – just like the rest of your body.

The best way to reduce odour from stretched ears is to practice good hygiene and wear skin-friendly jewellery. I recommend cleaning your stretched ears a couple of times a week – any more and you may irritate the skin. The easiest way to clean your stretchings is in the shower – simply remove your jewellery and clean thoroughly with warm water. You can also use unscented anti-bacterial soap if needed. After you have finished bathing, massage your ears with natural oil or moisturiser e.g. jojoba oil, cocoa butter, Vitamin E oil etc. Then reinsert your clean jewellery. It may also help to remove your jewellery regularly to allow the skin to breathe.

Many people find that ear odour reduces when they reach their desired gauge and allow their ears to heal fully. While you are still stretching your ears, they rarely get the chance to “settle” and heal fully, so the skin may produce excess build-up. Once they are left alone for a while, build-up reduces and so does odour. You should also avoid using alcohol-based substances to clean your stretching gear. This will dry the skin, causing it to produce excess oil. Unscented anti-bacterial soap is sufficient and will not interfere with your skin’s natural processes.

Best Jewellery To Reduce Stretched Ear Odour

Jewellery can also make a big difference to stretched ear odour. Most people notice increased odour when they wear acrylic jewellery, because it can accumulate bacteria. Wooden jewellery, on the other hand, tends to greatly reduce odour and most people find that their ears do not need cleaning as often. Wooden plugs and tunnels allow your skin to breathe and also irritate the skin less, so it produces less build-up. Silicone jewellery may also reduce the odour – it is non-porous and non-reactive, so it does not accumulate bacteria or irritate the skin.

Personally I wear either wood or silicone tunnels and clean/massage my ears once a week. This works for me and I do not get any odour at all from my stretched ears. Everyone is different, but with regular cleaning, massaging and appropriate jewellery you should be able to reduce stretched ear odour once and for all!


Salt soaks are an easy and effective way to treat a sore or irritated ear stretching. A salt soak essentially consists of submerging your ear stretching in a warm salt solution. This cleanses the piercing and draws out any infection or pus, giving it the best possible chance of healing. Ear stretchings are easily irritated e.g. by stretching too quickly, by cheap jewellery or a grain of dirt getting between your skin and the jewellery. In most cases, a few salt soaks will calm the irritation and leave your ear feeling much better. If the irritation is serious I recommend downsizing temporarily, continuing salt soaks and consulting a professional piercer if it does not improve.

How To Do A Salt Soak

Performing a salt soak on your ear stretching is both quick and easy. Ideally, try to use non-iodised sea salt and distilled water, as they have fewer impurities. You buy both from health food shops, but regular table salt and (ideally filtered) tap water will do. To perform your salt soak:

  1. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of salt with 250ml boiling water in a clean heat-resistant container such as a ceramic mug.
  2. Stir with a clean metal spoon until all the salt has dissolved.
  3. Allow to cool to a bearable temperature i.e. similar to a drinkable cup of tea.
  4. Fill a clean shot glass (or similar container) to the brim with the salt solution.
  5. Submerge your ear stretching in the solution for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it cools.
  6. Rinse with cold water to remove any residue. If there is a lot of lymph etc. use a clean cotton bud, taking care not to leave any fibres behind.

Step four is optional, but personally I find it easier to submerge my whole stretching in a small, full container like a shot glass as opposed to a mug. Salt soaks are great for any sore piercing, but you may have to get creative in order to submerge your piercing in the salt solution!

This post is part of our Ear Stretching Guide 101 series. Click on the link to see the whole series.


Industrial piercings make a big statement and they look great, so it’s easy to see why they are so popular. Thankfully, industrial piercings are relatively easy to heal and care for – you just need to know how! An industrial piercing consists of two separate piercings joined by wearing one long barbell through both piercings. It can be placed at almost any angle across the top of your ear, but the most common placement is with a diagonal bar – as shown here.

You can have your industrial pierced on both sides at once, or have the piercings done one at a time. I recommend having both piercings done at once and wearing the correct jewellery from the start. If the piercings are done separately or you wear BCRs while healing, the angle of the piercing can change slightly during healing. When you finally insert a long barbell into the piercings it will put a lot of stress on the piercings. This can cause to discomfort, migration and possible rejection of your industrial piercing.

It is also important to remember that placement is extremely important with this piercing. Every ear is different and a good piercer will be able to choose a placement that offers you the best chance of a successful piercing. If the placement is too shallow or the jewellery too short, the piercing will reject in the long term and can lead to the ear becoming misshapen. A small percentage of people may be unable to get an industrial piercing at all. As always, the key is to visit an experienced professional piercer who is able to answer all your questions and is willing to spend time finding the best placement for your piercing.

How To Care For New Industrial Piercings

In principal, industrial piercing aftercare is the same as for any ear cartilage piercing. However they can be trickier to clean and usually take longer to heal: often up to 24 weeks for complete healing. You should clean your industrial piercing twice daily with saline solution, using cotton buds – cotton wool balls get tangled in the piercing and leave fibres behind. Avoid swimming or submerging the piercing in water as this will all introduce bacteria. Tie or clip long hair away from the piercing and avoid contact with soap, shampoo or hair products. If you get any of these on the piercing, rinse with clean water and clean with saline.

Your industrial piercing should feel progressively better as it heals. If you experience persistent pain or swelling, consult your piercer – these can be signs of an infected piercing. Other symptoms include sharp pain, constant sensitivity, pus, redness and the skin feeling very hot. Infections in ear cartilage piercings can be more serious than in other piercings, so it is vital to seek help immediately. Do not assume it will just get better! Most piercing infections can be dealt with but in some cases infection can spread in between the layers of cartilage and even destroy the cartilage, leading to cartilage collapse. Good piercing aftercare can prevent infections, so it is very important to take good care of your industrial piercing!

Once healed, your industrial piercing requires very little care. Keep it clean and consult your piercer if you notice any changes to the piercing or immediate area.


Cheek piercings, also known as dimple piercings, are gorgeous looking piercings that really make an impact. These piercings look cute but I recommend thinking hard and doing your research before getting a set of cheek piercings. Unlike many piercings, cheek piercings have a lasting effect on your face and require more aftercare than most facial piercings. They usually heal well and last for a long time, but it is important to be well informed before you take the plunge and get your cheeks pierced.

Cheek piercings pass through the centre of the cheek, in the spot where a dimple usually forms. They are usually done as a set and pierced with either long labret studs or barbells. This is a difficult piercing to perform and good placement is key, so take the time to find a good professional piercer that has experience with cheek piercings. Cheek piercings create dimples in your cheeks, because they pass through the many muscle layers inside the cheek. These dimples are usually permanent and the piercing also leaves a small scar. All piercings scar, but it is important to realize that cheek piercings will permanently alter your cheeks in this way. Make sure that you are comfortable with this fact before getting pierced!

How To Care For New Cheek Piercings

Cheek piercings usually heal well, but they can take between 4 and 10 months to heal fully. The cheek is a relatively complex area and will take a while to settle after healing. As with all oral piercings, it is important to care for both the inside and outside of your cheek piercings. Clean the outsides twice daily with saline solution for the first 2 to 3 week – after this just clean as needed. To clean the inside of your piercings, rinse twice daily with suitable mouthwash, as well as after eating and drinking anything other than water. Avoid smoking and alcohol during the healing period, as they inhibit healing. You should also avoid kissing, swimming and submerging the piercings in water, as these introduce bacteria to the piercing site. You may find it uncomfortable to eat spicy food at first.

As with all piercings, it is important to monitor the piercing site and consult your piercer if you notice anything unusual. The following can be signs of an infection and you should seek help if you experience any of them: persistent swelling, sharp pain, persistent redness, skin that is hot to touch, pus, unpleasant odour.

A common problem associated with cheek piercing is the formation of lymphatic lumps around the piercing site. These are small lumps caused when lymphatic fluid becomes trapped under the skin. They can vary in size and appear at any time, even after the piercing has healed. Lymphatic lumps need to be drained by an experienced piercer, after which they usually heal and disappear. It is important to seek help as soon as you notice a lump, so that it does not become infected. You can reduce your chance of getting lumps by touching the piercing as little as possible, and always with clean hands. There is also an element of luck – some people never get lymphatic lumps at all.


Lip piercings look great and suit everyone, making them a popular choice no matter who you are. Fortunately they also heal well and are easy to care for. There are many different lip piercing placements and combinations, but they all require the same basic aftercare. Lip piercings can be placed almost anywhere around the mouth but the most popular is still the traditional lip piercing, placed in the centre of the bottom lip. Other popular lip piercings are side lip piercings on the bottom lip; monroe piercings on the side of the top lip and medusa piercings in centre of the top lip. You can wear labret studs, BCRs or circular barbells in your lip piercing, depending on the piercing placement.

How To Care For New Lip Piercings

Like all new piercings, new lip piercings need to be kept clean and dry. You should clean the outside of the piercing twice daily with saline solution and rinse twice daily with suitable mouthwash. You should also rinse after eating and drinking anything other than water. Avoid submerging the piercing in water and kissing, as these introduce bacteria. You should also avoid smoking and drinking alcohol, as they both impede healing. If you cannot avoid these activities, rinse with mouthwash afterwards.

Your piercing should soon start to feel more comfortable and the swelling should go down. Go back to your piercer if you experience any persistent swelling, pain or redness – these can be signs of an infected piercing. You should also consult a piercer if your jewellery feels tight or sinks into the skin – your jewellery might be too short and will need to be changed.

How To Reduce Lip Piercing Risks

All lip piercings carry a risk of oral damage. Wearing correct jewellery can prevent oral damage, but it is important to be aware of the risks and symptoms. Metal lip jewellery can rub on your teeth and gums, leading to potential gum erosion, tooth abrasion and even tooth loss. Most of this damage is permanent. If you notice any change in around the piercing – especially changes to the shape of your teeth and gums, consult a professional piercer immediately. They will be able to advise you on whether you need to change your jewellery or perhaps even retire the piercing.

The best way to avoid oral damage is to wear soft jewellery, such as a BioFlex labret stud. BioFlex is softer and gentler on your gums, lessening the impact of tooth damage. You can also choose placements that put less pressure on the gum line – ask your piercer for the best placement. There is also an element of luck – some people notice damage even with BioFlex jewellery; others wear metal for years with no damage. The most important thing is to check your mouth regularly and seek help immediately if you notice any changes to your mouth.


Daith piercings are a lovely alternative to helix or tragus piercings with pretty much the same healing process. Daith piercings pass through the central fold of ear cartilage, in front of the ear opening. They are usually pierced as close to the ear opening as possible, although other placements are possible. The name “daith” comes from the Hebrew word for knowledge, chosen by a student of Hebrew who was the first person to get this piercing. You can wear a circular barbell, curved barbell or BCR in your daith piercing – depending on how much space there is in that part of your ear.

How To Care For New Daith Piercing

Daith piercings usually heal in 6 to 18 weeks and should be kept clean and dry. You should clean your piercing twice daily with saline solution and avoid submerging it in water. Make sure that your hair does not become tangled in the jewellery and try not to fiddle with it too much.

As with any piercing, it is important to keep an eye on your daith for any changes or signs of infection. Common signs of infection are persistent soreness, redness, swelling or if the skin feels hot. If you experience any of these symptoms please consult a piercer immediately. Because this is a cartilage piercing, special care must be taken in case of an infection. If untreated, infection can become trapped in between the layers of cartilage and cause permanent damage to it. Fortunately most piercing infections can be avoided with proper care, but is it important to be aware of the risks.

Once healed, your daith piercing will require very little care – simply clean with saline as needed.


Elegant and easy to heal, monroe piercings are a popular choice. Monroe piercings are placed to the side of the top lip and can be pierced on either side. They are named after Marilyn Monroe’s beauty spot and can also be called madonna piercings, after the singer’s similar beauty spot. Although both men and women sport monroe piercings, they are more popular with women, probably due to the association with Marilyn and Madonna. Monroe piercings are similar to bottom lip piercings in terms of their healing and care. You can wear a labret stud in this piercing and it pierced at either 1.6mm or 1.2mm. As with all lip piercings, monroe piercings do carry a risk of oral damage, but this can be greatly reduced by your choice of jewellery.

How To Care For New Monroe Piercings

Monroe piercings heal fairly well in between 6 and 16 weeks. You should clean the outside of the piercing twice daily with saline solution and rinse your mouth twice daily with a mouthwash specifically designed for oral piercings. I also suggest rinsing after eating and after drinking anything other than water. Until the piercing is healed, avoid smoking as this can inhibit healing. You should also avoid swimming, oral sexual contact and submerging the piercing in water – these will introduce bacteria to the piercing. You may find it helpful to drink with a straw, as this will keep your drinks away from the piercing.

Once your monroe piercing has healed, simply clean with saline as needed. Try to keep make up away from the piercing. You should also keep an eye on any changes to the piercing or your mouth, as detailed below.

Reducing Monroe Piercing Risks

Like all lip piercings, monroe piercings carry a risk of oral damage. This can occur if the jewellery rubs on your teeth and gums, leading to gum recession or tooth erosion. The main concern with a monroe piercing is gum recession, which can be irreversible. You can greatly reduce the risk of gum recession by wearing a BioFlex labret stud. BioFlex is a soft bio-plastic that is much gentler on your mouth, and you can still wear a metal ball so it looks the same as regular monroe jewellery. If you do notice any changes to the piercing site or the area of gum under your piercing, please consult a professional piercer immediately. They will be able to advise you on the extent of the damage and what to do next. In extreme cases you may have to retire the piercing, but wearing correct jewellery from the start should prevent this.


Ear cartilage piercings look great and there are lots of different placements to choose from. There are at least eight different ear cartilage piercings that you can get, which makes them extremely popular and a great choice regardless of how many piercings you have. Cartilage piercings heal well and are easy to take care of, but they do take longer to heal than “softer” piercings such as ear lobe and lip piercings. This is because the ear cartilage does not receive as much blood supply. Most ear cartilage piercings heal in six to eighteen weeks and require very little care once fully healed.

As with all body piercings, it is important to visit a dedicated professional piercer for your ear cartilage piercings as opposed to a hairdresser or jewellery shop. A dedicated piercer will have the proper training needed to perform your piercing correctly with a needle, as opposed to a piercing gun. Piercing guns harbour germs and bacteria because they cannot be fully sterilised. They can also damage the cartilage and lead to a more difficult healing process.

Caring For New Ear Cartilage Piercings

Like all body piercings, new ear cartilage piercings should be kept clean and dry. You should clean your piercing twice daily with saline solution and avoid submerging it in water. Keep your hair away from the piercing and try not to fiddle with it.

Your ear cartilage piercing should feel progressively better, but consult your piercer if you experience any of the following: swelling, persistent redness, increasing/sharp pain or skin that feels hot to touch. These can be signs of an infected piercing and need to be dealt with immediately. When it comes to infection, cartilage piercings require a little more vigilance – it is possible for infection to trapped in between the layers of cartilage and actually destroy it. Most piercing-related infections can be prevented with proper aftercare, but it is important to be aware of the risks and symptoms.


Medusa piercings are a great alternative to a standard lip piercing, but have a very similar healing process and care needs. This makes them ideal if you like the idea of a lip piercing, but fancy something a little different. Medusa piercings are pierced through the centre of the top lip and the jewellery is always a labret stud. They are also known as philtrum piercings, due to their placement. Medusa piercings are essentially the same as a traditional labret piercing, apart from their placement on the top lip. Like a labret piercing, medusas typically heal in six to fourteen weeks.

As with other lip piercings, medusa piercings carry a risk of tooth and gum erosion, caused by the rubbing of the jewellery on your teeth and gums. This damage can be prevented by choosing a soft-backed BioFlex labret stud. There is also an element of luck – some people never experience any oral damage, while others are forced to retire their medusa piercing despite wearing suitable jewellery. I recommend wearing a BioFlex labret and checking the piercing site regularly. If you notice any changes to the area, especially gum recession, consult a professional piercer immediately – any damage will only get worse. A good piercer should be able to advise you on how serious the damage is and how to proceed.

How To Care For A New Medusa Piercing

As a lip piercing, your medusa piercing needs two types of piercing aftercare. Firstly, you should clean the outside of the piercing twice daily with saline solution. Secondly, you should rinse with a suitable mouthwash – rinse twice daily and after eating or drinking anything other than water. Continue both these actions until your piercing has healed completely. While your medusa piercing is healing, you should avoid swimming and kissing, as these both introduce bacteria to the piercing. I also recommend avoiding alcohol and smoking, as they can inhibit the healing process. You may also find it helpful to drink through a straw.

Once your medusa piercing is healed, it requires very little care. Simply keep it clean and monitor the piercing for any changes or unusual pain – consult a piercer immediately if you experience either.