Belly Button Piercing Care & Healing Guide
You’ve finally taken the plunge and have gotten your dream piercing. However, the belly button piercing care instructions you received as you headed out the door slipped your mind because you were still dazed and confused by what had just happened.
What are you supposed to do now? You don’t want to chance an infection by screwing things up.
The good news is that the majority of belly button piercings heal very well with no complications as long as you take care of your new bling.
The first few days, in particular, will require a little work on your part. But before long your belly button piercing will be completely healed and you’ll be showing it off proudly.
How Long Does A Belly Button Piercing Take To Heal?
In a perfect world, we would heal as fast as the X-Men’s Wolverine does. While that’s never going to happen, some of us do actually heal quicker than others.
Part of that ability to heal faster comes from how well you take care of your new navel piercing. But a big part of it also stems from how well you take care of your body. Making sure you get enough sleep and that you’re making great nutritional choices can promote faster healing.
You’ll also need to keep in mind that your belly button piercing may look like it has healed long before it actually has.
In about one month to six weeks, you’ll notice that it looks healed. But looks can be deceiving – the healing is still going on, even if you can’t see it happening.
For most people, it will take three to six months for the belly button piercing to heal all the way, and for some people, that process can actually take up to one year.
What To Do On The Day Of Your Belly Button Piercing
After the piercing, you’ll want to make sure you have some basic supplies before you go home. Better yet, you should plan ahead of time and get your supplies right before you head in for your piercing so all you’ll have to do afterward is go home and rest.
A quick guide to cleaning a new piercing:
You’ll want a pack of little Dixie cups, Q-tips, cotton balls, sea salt, and saline solution.
These items are also relatively cheap, helping to keep down the cost of your belly button piercing.
My Favorite Piercing Aftercare Product
The best piercing aftercare product I've ever had the pleasure of using up to this point is the H2Ocean Piercing Aftercare Spray.
Not only is every single ingredient completely natural, but the spray works brilliantly on all skin types (including sensitive skin) and comes in a very generously sized can.
Many users of the spray advise that when using it from the very start of the healing process, it appears to decrease healing times and helps to reduce any lingering pain/soreness.
Read more about the H2Ocean Piercing Spray here. Have a quick look at some of the customer reviews and you'll see why it's one of the most popular piercing sprays on the market.
As soon as you get home from having the piercing done, you should change into some loose-fitting, comfy clothes. You should go for low-riding pants or shorts – something that won’t rub against your naval.
If there was ever a time to go shirtless, this is it. You don’t want anything touching your new piercing because the movement could irritate it.
Before you do anything to your piercing, you need to wash your hands well first with soap and water. You might want to pay special attention to the dirt under your fingernails while washing.
You don’t want any of that dirt getting into your wound. If you aren’t certain you’re getting your hands clean enough, you can always opt to wear disposable gloves.
Don’t panic if you see a little blood that first day. That’s normal so it’s no cause for alarm. If you find you’re in a lot of pain, take an ibuprofen, like Advil. Don’t take Tylenol or aspirin.
Don’t Worry About Swelling
You might see a fair amount of swelling around the piercing. You can use ice to help keep that down as much as possible. Plus, the ice will help you with the itchiness that may crop up. As maddening as it can be to stop yourself from scratching itchy skin, it’s best if you don’t.
Rinse Your Piercing
You’ll need to rinse your piercing with saline several times a day while your naval is healing. That first day, you’ll want to rinse it at least once. You can dab at it with a Q-tip if it’s super sore, or gently use a cotton ball.
If you have a double belly button piercing, you should do both at the same time.
Take a Vitamin
That night after you’ve had the piercing done, you should take a multivitamin to make sure you have all the nutrients in your body you need to promote healing. Then make sure to get to bed early – some quality shut-eye will give your body the green light to begin healing.
How To Clean A Belly Button Piercing
Before you begin cleaning your piercing, you should use a Q-tip dunked in warm water to cautiously remove any crust.
A good goal to shoot for cleaning your piercing is around four times a day. You should make sure you use a sea salt solution two of those times.
You can make it by mixing one-fourth teaspoon of sea salt into 8 ounces of cooled boiled water. The water doesn’t have to be all the way cooled – it can be warm still, just make sure you can touch it comfortably.
Sea salt helps heal wounds. But you shouldn’t take a saltwater bath in your tub because you could unknowingly introduce bacteria and other undesirables into your wound from sitting in a pool of water. Instead of baths, there are going to be a lot of showers in your near future.
What you’ll want to do instead of a bath to soak your wound is this. Put some of the salt water into a Dixie cup or a small glass you have. Bend over and let your belly press fully against the rim of the glass. Make a seal against your skin and press hard against it as you lay down on a couch or a bed.
Let that water stay on your belly button area for at least 10 minutes. You should do it once that first day. After that, aim for twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening before bed. The saltwater will help break down the crust that may form over the area that has been pierced.
Plus, it’s a great cleanser and natural healer.
The other times a day when you aren’t using salt water, you can use a saline rinse to clean your piercing. Don’t confuse contact solution with the kind of saline solution you need. If you need help picking a good kind, stop by a pharmacy and ask for help.
What To Do During The Rest Of The Aftercare Phase
For the first month after you get your belly button pierced, you should continue doing your saltwater rinses twice a day.
Continue to choose your wardrobe carefully. Any tight clothes that rub up against your piercing or pull and tug at it, will set your recovery back a bit.
Keep taking your daily multivitamin and add some extra sources of vitamin C, like oranges or strawberries, into your diet. To speed up your healing, try not to skimp on sleep during your recovery time.
What Not To Do While Your Belly Button Piercing Is Healing
Your new belly button bling is cool and it’s exciting. You naturally want to check it out and fiddle around with it. But you should leave it alone as much as possible.
It’s hard for skin to heal when it is constantly being poked and prodded. The best thing you can do to help your navel heal is let it be, even when you want to mess with it.
You should continue to avoid baths and public swimming pools for the first couple months or so, just to be on the safe side. You don’t want to introduce any germs into your piercing after you’ve been so careful to continue washing your hands.
Don’t Sleep On Your Stomach
If you’ve always been a stomach sleeper, you’ll want to change your ways for the next few months. Sleeping on your belly will put too much pressure on your new piercing and will cause unnecessary discomfort for you. Sleep on your side or back instead.
Stay Away From Creams and Liquid Soap
While some well-meaning people in your life might tell you to use hydrogen peroxide on your wound, you shouldn’t. It’s not necessary and it won’t help anyway. You’ll be throwing your money away and potentially stalling your healing.
You also shouldn’t use creams like Neosporin, which some people recommend. Check out the label on a tube, if you’re in doubt about whether you should use it or not. It says right on the instructions that it shouldn’t be used on an open wound. It’s made for scrapes, not for punctures.
Some people may also tell you to use liquid anti-bacterial soap, but this isn’t a necessary step. Liquid soap can be too extreme for a piercing – remember, you need to gently clean it.
Antibacterial soaps don’t only remove the bad bacteria your body comes in contact with, but it also removes the good, helpful bacteria as well.
While using soap may make you feel like you’re giving your navel a good, deep cleansing, you might end up irritating your skin and delaying the healing process.
One more thing you should hold off on while your navel heals is tanning, especially tanning beds. You don’t want to risk overdoing it and ending up with a drying and itchy sunburn on your belly while you’re still healing from your piercing.
Because the sun, lakes and public pools should be avoided when you have a new piercing, an ideal time to have your navel pierced is in the winter months.
What Are Some Signs Of Complications?
It can be difficult to know when things have taken a turn for the worse with your piercing, especially in the first few days. During this time, you’ll have some redness, swelling, and discharge in and around your wound. That’s to be expected.
It’s easy to get carried away and envision the worst-case scenario could be happening to you. But most people fair really well after their piercing and don’t have any complications if they closely stick with the aftercare instructions.
But how do you know when things have taken a turn for the worse?
If you feel your reddened skin and it feels much hotter than the surrounding skin, you may want to consider having a doctor take a look. Other signs of a potential infection include a growing amount of pus, and discharge that smells bad or begins changing colors from what it was initially.
If you notice any of these changes, head to a doctor as soon as possible. It’s always best to catch infections as soon as you can. If you don't, you risk permanent scarring around the piercing.
Belly button piercing rejection is also a possibility, so be careful and look out for this issue throughout the healing process.
When Can I Stop Cleaning My Belly Button Piercing?
After about a month of cleaning your piercing for at least two to four times a day, you can stop doing it if things seem to be going well. If you’ve had complications, you may want to keep doing it for another week or two.
It may take a little time out of your day to continue with the cleanings. But giving up that time is far better than ending up with an infection.
When Can I Remove/Replace My Belly Button Piercing Jewelry?
Half the fun of getting a belly button piercing is swapping out the jewelry. You get to change up your look to suit your mood whenever you want – but only after the wound has healed a bit. Until then, you need to leave the jewelry alone, no matter how much you want to change it.
Before you even consider changing the jewelry, you should make sure there is no more drainage from the wound. If you still see some discharge, you’ll need to wait a bit longer.
To determine if you’re ready for the step of changing jewelry, try to move the jewelry you already have in. Wiggle and slide it around. Does your belly hurt? Does it still feel sore or tender? If it does, you aren’t ready yet.
You should leave your jewelry in for approximately 4 months before you even consider changing it, and it can take longer than that if you don’t take great care of it.
It can be hard to be patient during the long belly button piercing recovery time, but making sure you don’t cut corners on your care is important. Avoiding complications is worth the few minutes a day you’ll devote to cleaning and rinsing your piercing.
The time will go surprisingly quick, and it won’t be long before you’re out and about showing off your new belly button jewelry.