Body piercing is traditionally done by pushing a needle through a body part and inserting a piece of jewellery. The ears are the most commonly pierced sites, but other sites include the eyebrows, nose, lips, tongue, nipples, navel and genitals.
A new body piercing may be sore, red, swollen, itchy or tender and it can take anything from a few days to a few weeks for this to go away. If there is pus or it becomes painful, it may be infected. If you think a body piercing is infected, see your doctor.
Sometimes the area of skin around the piercing can change colour and appear red, brown, pink, or purple. This discolouration will eventually fade after a few weeks.
The healing times vary depending on which part of your body is pierced and how well you look after it.
A piercing in your genital area is more likely to get infected, so extra care is necessary until it has healed.
- Keep the area clean at all times and follow the instructions given by the person who did the piercing.
- Cleaning or touching the piercing too much slows down the healing. Only clean it twice a day.
- Wash your hands with soap and water then dry thoroughly before touching or cleaning the area.
- Clean the area in the shower. Avoid soap. Pat the area dry with a clean tissue then apply the after care product into the site of the piercing. Gently move the jewellery up and down or rotate the ring.
- Don't pick or tug on the pierced area until it has completely healed.
- Avoid unnecessary friction (or rubbing) to this area until it is completely healed.
- Don't use alcohol on the pierced area.
- When considering piercing or tattooing, make sure you choose a reputable shop which uses sterile procedures and equipment.
- Don’t share your body piercing jewellery with others.
You should avoid swimming until the piercing has healed. If the piercing was in the genital area, avoid sex for at least a week afterwards (or check with the body artist).
If you are in pain, get advice on medicines you can take.
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about your body piercing, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: October 2019