How To Care For A Belly Button Piercing

  • Written By Dan Hunter on July 15, 2018
    Last Updated: March 17, 2022

You’ve finally taken the plunge and have gotten your dream piercing. The good news is that the majority of belly button piercings heal very well with no complications as long as you take care of them in the first weeks and months of their life.

For most people, it will take three to six months for the belly button piercing to heal all the way through, and for some people, that process can actually take up to a year.

Belly Button Piercing Care

Caring for your new piercing shouldn’t be too difficult. The hardest part of the process is trying to adhere to the cleaning schedule. Apart from that, things should be plain sailing once you get the hang of things.

Before you begin cleaning your piercing, you should use a Q-tip dipped in warm water to cautiously remove any crust. A good goal to shoot for cleaning your piercing is around two-to-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.

If you’d rather not make your own solution, there are plenty of ready-made ones available on the market.

The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.​

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, there are going to be a lot of showers in the 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.

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.

A quick video guide to cleaning a new piercing:

What Not To Do

Don’t Play With Your Piercing

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 to 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 of 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 up to this point.

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.  Hydrogen peroxide works to kill germs in a dirty wound, but for a clean wound, it will only delay healing.  

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 that your body needs.

Avoid Tanning

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 peeling and itchy sunburn on your belly while you’re still healing from your new piercing.

Because the sun, lakes and public pools should be avoided when you have a new belly button piercing, an ideal time to have your navel pierced is in the winter months.


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. After all, most people fair really well after their body 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 touch your reddened skin and it feels much hotter than the surrounding skin, you may want to consider having a doctor take a look, as this could be a sign of infection. Other potential signs of infection include a growing amount of discharge that smells bad or begins to change from clear to green or yellow, increasing levels of pain, and flu-like symptoms.

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, or even worse.

Belly button piercing rejection is also a possibility, so be careful and be on the lookout for this issue throughout the healing process, too.

When Can I Stop Cleaning My Piercing?

After about a month of cleaning your new belly button piercing 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.

When Can I Remove My Jewelry?

To determine if you’re ready to change out your 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 body jewelry in for approximately 4 months before you consider changing it, and it can take longer than that if you don’t take great care of it. Ensure you know how to change your belly button jewelry correctly, too.


It can be hard to be patient during the long recovery times, 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 quickly, and it won’t be long before you’re out and about showing off your new belly button jewelry.

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