As a self proclaimed professional in the art of healing piercings, I have had quite the learning curve while caring for my beloved new jewelry. Firstly: my credentials. I got my ear lobes pierced in first grade after begging and begging my parents for months. From freshman year of high school to my fifth semester of college, I got an additional piercing each year. Currently, my tally is 15: 11 ear piercings, two nose piercings, and two additional, very finicky piercings. You can guess.
When it comes to getting a good piercing, finding a reputable parlor is very important. Yes, like many of you, I absolutely love my $15 piercings from Paramount Piercing in Northeast, but alongside that, there are many queer-owned and fabulous parlors all around Portland. Ritual Arts in Hollywood is wonderful; I have heard many great things and all of their artists are members of the Association of Professional Piercers. Adorn Body Art, with locations in both Portland and Beaverton is highly reputable and they pride themselves on their piercing staff being continually kept up to date with the most advanced and safest techniques in body modification. They also “take annual continuing education classes on everything from Bedside Manner to Advanced Ear Curations and Human Anatomy,” according to their website. In addition to piercings, Adorn offers tattoos, tooth gems and permanent cosmetic art.
Now to get down to business. Three of my ear piercings I did myself, and two more I got in my first semester at Lewis & Clark in a crowded Copeland dorm room. Fueled by the disappointment of my mother each time I add something new to my face and emboldened by years of piercing experience, I have discovered the optimal way to heal each new favorite wound.
Of course, they will give you a cleaning routine at the parlor–often consisting of spraying with saline and not touching the piercing. In addition to the saline wash, my holy grail has been Bactine antibacterial spray with 4% lidocaine. The numbing and cleansing dual action has been a savior for delicate cartilage piercings.
I know all of you piercing addicts also possess a shot glass somewhere in your dorm and if you don’t, rationalize the purchase as multi-functional. A shot glass works perfectly to fill with saline and place over your body piercing, and it’s perfect to submerge either nipple or belly button piercings. Using a Bactine soaked q-tip to gently swab your septum ensures that you will adequately clean the hard-to-reach areas. My soap of choice has always been Dr. Bronners, and the unscented or baby soap versions are much more gentle than some of the strongly scented ones. Remember to wash gently and not to twist or fidget with your new piercings, as it can damage the skin and cause scarring or keloids.
My most painful ear piercing to heal was by far my forward helix, constantly caught in my hair, on the side I prefer to fall asleep on and impossible to wear over-the-ear headphones with. Airplane pillows have helped me avoid many nights of sleeplessness, so if you are a side sleeper like me, placing your ear in the empty space of the airplane pillow can give you some relief from the healing pains.
Neosporin is my go-to for everything from chapped lips to stubborn acne to irritated piercings. Let’s face it, piercings can get gross sometimes and especially those of us who have body piercings know that they can get a little crusty and very easily irritated. One of my piercings is very stubborn and still gives me issues after a year and a half, and I always return to Neosporin to aid the long healing process and make sure it stays clean and protected.
Tattoos and piercings are often hallmarks of one’s queerness—serving as an important part of being confident in your own skin. As you show the world how you choose to artistically decorate your body, make sure to do your research so you can be comfortable, proud and happy with your new art. Happy body-moding!
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