Body Piercing

How to Take Care of a Lip Piercing

Taking proper care of any new piercing is important to avoid infections and ensure proper healing. Lip and other oral piercings need special attention, because bacteria in and around the mouth can increase the infection risk. These piercings can also increase your risk of transmitting certain diseases, and the jewelry can cause problems with your teeth and gums. To allow a lip piercing to heal properly, you will need to take care of it, keep it clean and dry, leave it alone, and avoid certain foods and activities.

Part One of Three:
Preparing for Your Lip Piercing

  1. Know what to expect. Piercing your lip will be painful, and the piercing may cause bleeding. The area may be tender, swollen, and bruised for several days afterward. Lip piercings can take anywhere from 6 to 10 weeks to heal fully, so be prepared for multiple daily cleanings during that time, plus regular upkeep after that.
  2. Purchase your cleaning supplies in advance. Cleaning your lip piercing is pretty straightforward, but it will require non-iodized salt, alcohol-free mouthwash, and a mild, fragrance-free soap. Pick up a new toothbrush as well—one with soft bristles—and replace your old one after getting your piercing.
  3. Recognize the signs of infection. Before getting your lip pierced, know what to look for regarding infections. Symptoms include pus, green or yellow discharge, tingling or loss of feeling around the piercing site, fever, and excessive bleeding, pain, redness, and swelling.[2]
    • Leave the jewelry in if you suspect an infection, but seek medical attention immediately.[
  4. Know what an allergic reaction will look like. Body jewelry often contains nickel, which is a common allergen for many people. Symptoms will likely appear within 12 to 48 hours, and can include itching and swelling, crusty or scaly blisters, and redness, rash, or dry skin.[
    • Your lip piercing won’t heal properly if you are allergic to the jewelry, so go to the doctor immediately if you suspect an allergy.
    • If you can’t wear necklaces, earrings, rings or bracelets containing nickel, you won’t be able to wear it in your lip, either. Look for jewelry labeled “surgical steel” or “nickel free.”
    • In addition to nickel, some people may be allergic to copper or brass. These 3 base metals cause the majority of allergic reactions to jewelry.Advertisement

Part Two of Three:
Cleaning and Caring for Your Lip Piercing

  1. Clean the inside of your mouth. Rinse your mouth for 30 seconds using an alcohol-free mouthwash or salt solution after every time you eat, drink, or smoke. Rinse before bedtime as well.
    • To make a salt solution, combine 1/4 teaspoon (1.2 ml) of non-iodized salt with 8 ounces (237 ml) of boiling water. Stir to dissolve the salt, and let it cool.[
    • Don’t increase the salt content, as this could irritate your mouth.
  2. Clean the outside of the piercing and jewelry. Once a day, preferably in the shower when any crusted matter and debris around the piercing has softened, lather a mild soap with your fingers and gently wash the piercing site and jewelry. Gently rotate the jewelry for a thorough cleaning and to remove debris. Rinse thoroughly, gently rotating the jewelry again.
    • Always wash your hands thoroughly before cleaning or touching your piercing.
    • Don’t clean the piercing with soap more than once a day.
  3. Soak the piercing. Once or twice a day, fill a small cup with the salt solution and soak the piercing for 5 to 10 minutes.[ Rinse the area with warm water after.
  4. Brush and floss at least twice a day. Brush and floss after every meal if possible. Rinse your mouth with alcohol-free mouthwash after brushing to remove any leftover food particles from your mouth.
    • Be gentle while brushing, so that you do not irritate the piercing.
  5. Eat slowly and carefully. Soft foods are recommended for the first few days. Once you return to solid food, cut it into small pieces. Place bite-sized pieces of food directly onto your molars.[ Be careful not to bite your lip, and avoid contact with the piercing as much as possible. Chew as far away from the piercing as you can. In the first couple days especially, try foods like:
    • Ice cream
    • Yogurt
    • Pudding
    • Cold foods and drinks that soothe and help keep swelling.
    • Don’t use chewing gum until your piercing heals.
  6. Reduce swelling. Suck on small pieces of ice to alleviate pain and swelling. Pain relieving anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can also be used.[

Part Three of Three:
Knowing What to Avoid

  1. Avoid eating, drinking, and smoking for the first 3 hours. For as long as possible, and certainly for the first 3 hours after receiving your piercing, leave your lip piercing alone. Avoid talking as much as possible. Until your piercing is completely healed, you should also avoid:
    • Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and drugs
    • Sticky foods, including oatmeal
    • Hard food, candy, and gum
    • Spicy food
    • Salty foods
    • Chewing on non-edible items, such as your fingers, pencils, and pens.
  2. Leave the piercing alone. Cleaning time is the only time you should touch your piercing. Touching it too much can lead to infections, swelling, pain, and increased healing time. Don’t play with it, don’t let others play with it, and avoid contact and motion as much as possible.During the healing process, you should also avoid:
    • Oral sex and kissing
    • Sharing food, drinks, and utensils
    • Licking your piercing or playing with it with your tongue or fingers
    • Rigorous activity and physical contact involving the face
  3. Stay away from water. This includes chlorinated water like pools and hot tubs, but it also means fresh water, lengthy showers and baths, and steam rooms and saunas. Keep your piercing dry, otherwise it will take longer to heal and may not heal properly.
  4. Avoid substances that could aggravate the piercing. Don’t clean your piercing with rubbing alcohol, scented soaps, hydrogen peroxide, antibacterial ointments, or petroleum-based creams or gels. These products can cause irritation, dryness, cell damage, or clogged pores.
    • Keep the area around the piercing free of makeup, cosmetics, and facial creams or lotions.
  5. Don’t change the jewelry until your lip piercing has healed. Not only can this aggravate newly healed skin, but the piercing can start to close immediately.
  6. Maintain good oral hygiene. After your piercing has healed, you don’t have to keep up with the multiple daily mouthwash rinses and soaks, but clean the piercing and jewelry in the shower with mild soap every few days. Brush and floss regularly.

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