Anonymous asked: I know that there is a lot of debate among reputable piercers about after care. Sea salt soaks vs. sea salt spray vs. doing nothing at all. I know that you are in the school of thought of just leaving it alone and letting your body do the work. Why do you see this as the best method and what do you usually recommend if any problems arise during the healing process?
The human body is equipped with an immune system. That immune system makes sure that if you trip and fall and skin your knee, you don’t have to worry about imminent infection and death. When you trip and fall and skin that knee, your skin isn’t cleaned and prepped first, that sidewalk isn’t sterile, and the gravel and debris that get stuck in your wound aren’t implant grade. And yet the average person’s body would have no issue healing that with no aftercare regimen whatsoever. So, when I use validated and widely practiced skin cleaning protocols, sterile implements and jewelry, implant grade materials, and an aseptic technique - the risks are WAY lower than that skinned knee, right?
Now, saline is non-irritating to the body, which is awesome. Canned saline is sterile and comes out of the can with enough force to rinse away any dried lymphatic fluid or blood that might be present around your piercing, and it’s cool and calming. Is it bad or wrong to use? No. Is it doing anything your showerhead wouldn’t? Nope. The saline is merely the fluid providing that irrigation force. Dispensing that saline onto sterile gauze and warming it and using it as a compress isn’t a bad idea. Heat is a vasodilator, meaning it expands blood vessels, making it easier for the body to deliver oxygen, white blood cells, and nutrients - all things a healing wound needs. Can this be done with a showerhead? Yep. Even a heating pad? Yep. Again, the saline is just a conduit for something else - this time for the heat.
Salt water soaks are sort of the knock off brand of saline… It’s not sterile, it’s not at the right ratio of sodium chloride to water, many people are reusing the same cup without washing it, that salt isn’t produced in a clean way, they’re mixing the solution and storing it, allowing for the growth of bacteria… There’s a lot of room for error here. Medical studies on saline soaks in open wounds showed that they actually encouraged bacterial growth. Probably not worth doing.
Now, doctors aren’t really piercing people - so let’s look at something similar: sutures. If you go see a doctor to have some sutures done, that wound is fairly similar to a piercing. A doctor doesn’t recommend saline soaks, or emu oil, or H2Ocean… she tells you to keep the area clean (free of debris) and dry. She doesn’t want you to rotate those sutures, or move them back and forth - she wants you to forget they ever happened and live your life and come back and have them looked at. Why should we, as piercers, practice anything different? If your body can heal a wound on it’s own, why complicate things with methods that could make things worse or at least aren’t really benefitting you?
I think that when we’re dealing with paying clients’ money and bodies, we owe them the best we can offer. For me, that means reminding them of how their body heals, and encouraging them to take good care of their whole self - eating well, sleeping well, avoiding stress, living a happy and healthy life.
Now, problems do arise during the healing process from time to time, but there’s usually some sort of cause for that. I try to pinpoint the cause of the irritation, and address it. Is the piercing being touched or moved? Stop doing that. Is there gross debris irritating the healing? Make sure it’s being rinsed away in the shower. Additionally, there can be issues like angles, jewelry fit and quality, etc. - but let’s assume I’ve done the piercing and those aren’t the cause. These are easily stopped, not just treated.
Again: I will say, there’s nothing inherently wrong with saline irrigation or compresses, but it’s nothing that won’t be done anyhow. If your piercer recommends saline - use it! They’re not wrong, and they’re not misleading you.