How To Change A Belly Button Piercing

Changing a belly button piercing is a simple procedure but doing it wrong can cause some damage to your skin, compromise the healing process, or result in an unpleasant or painful infection.

You might have heard horror stories about navel piercings getting infected and inflamed or the skin tearing when someone tried to change their jewelry for the first time. Thankfully, those kinds of complications are easy to avoid. We put together this easy to follow step-by-step guide to changing your belly button ring so you can swap out your original jewelry safely and with confidence.

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How To Change A Belly Button Ring

Steps to Changing a Belly Button Ring

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap. Whenever you’re dealing with a piercing, especially if it’s your first time changing it, your biggest concern will be to avoid infection. Since your hands can carry a lot of bacteria, do not skip this step.

  • Clean the piercing and surrounding skin with saline solution. Again, this is about preventing infection. By keeping everything clean, you will minimize the amount of bacteria your piercing is exposed to.

  • Sanitize your new jewelry. One popular method of doing this is to soak the belly button ring in rubbing alcohol (make sure you wipe off the alcohol and let the jewelry dry before inserting it). This can be effective, but note it can ruin your jewelry that is acrylic or features any gems. If that’s the case for your new belly button ring, then use the same kind of antibacterial soap you used to wash your hands.

  • Remove your original jewelry. After removing the ball from it, it should slide out fairly easily. If it doesn’t, it might be a sign that the piercing has not finished healing or has healed improperly.

  • Slide in your new belly button ring. Close the ring with a ball or any other closure it has, if any (some are simply curved and should sit in place without anything holding them in).

Risks and Precautions

Allow the Piercing to Heal Completely

Never remove your jewelry before your piercing has completely healed. Doing so can not only result in complications, but your piercing could also heal closed without any jewelry in place. The last thing you want is to be so impatient to change your jewelry that you end up needing to get your belly button re-pierced and have to start the healing process (and wait time) all over again.

A navel piercing can take a long time to heal. How long it takes will vary from person to person and will depend on whether you followed the aftercare instructions. In general, expect to wait three months to a year before you’re able to switch out the original jewelry. A good sign that it’s done healing is that you can move it easily. The skin around your piercing should also look more or less the way it did before you got pierced. There should be no swelling or any discharge.

Removing your original jewelry before the piercing has completely healed can not only result in complications, but it can result in your piercing healing closed. The last thing you want is to be so impatient to change it, only to need your belly button re-pierced and have to start the healing process (and wait time) all over again.

If you have difficulty removing your jewelry even after your piercing has completely healed, don’t try to force it out. Doing so could cause tearing and irritation, which will increase your risk of infection. Instead, see your piercer for advice. They may also have the tools (and the skill) to remove a stubborn piercing without any pain or damage.

Get the Right Gauge

Getting the right gauge is critical. If your jewelry is thicker than your piercing, you will have a difficult time inserting it and you may even cause some damage in the process.  

Insert in the Right Direction

Most belly button rings should be inserted from the top of the piercing. This is the easiest way to do it and it will make it less likely that something goes wrong and you develop an infection. But be aware that some jewelry is designed to go in from the bottom.

If you want to be completely sure, ask your piercer which direction the jewelry should be inserted when you buy the belly button ring from them.

After Inserting the Jewelry

Once you’ve changed your belly button ring, keep checking the piercing regularly for signs of inflammation, redness, or other problems. No matter how cautious you were when changing your jewelry, there is always a risk of complication or infection. It’s better to catch this early so you can treat it before it gets worse, so don’t just insert the jewelry and forget about it.

If the piercing feels itchy after swapping the jewelry, treat it with an antibiotic ointment. The symptoms should subside within a day or two. If they don’t, see a doctor to have it treated.

Summary

Changing a belly button piercing is easy and straightforward, but be sure to take your time and follow precautions to avoid infection or tearing.

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