Allergies, scarring, keloids, bleeding, brain abscess, nerve damage, endocarditis, hepatitis B and C—all can result from a body piercing gone wrong, writes the University of Massachusetts Medical School. No matter how many safety precautions you take when getting your belly button pierced, knowing the risks is critical to your health.
Keeping the open wound clean is primary to its healing. While swimming in a chlorinated pool may seem sanitary, picking up a belly button piercing infection is more likely, a common situation in the early days of piercings.
How Piercings Began
Piercings have long been a symbol of beauty. They also have denoted sexuality, ritual initiation and rites of passage throughout history and throughout the world.
Mayan royalty pierced their tongues and genitals. Surprisingly, Victorian era women sometimes hid pierced nipples under their dresses. And after World War II, nipple, tongue and genital piercings were all the rage in Germany.
Today, piercings are prominent in the tribal societies of Asia, Africa and South America. It took until the 1990s for piercings to become mainstream in America.
Choosing the Right Jewelry
Nickel is the common base metal in jewelry, but around 30 percent of people are allergic to nickel. Platinum, stainless steel and gold are safe, while white gold is not safe if it contains nickel.
Belly button piercings can become infected when you wear jewelry made of the wrong type of metal.
Although it’s a disinfectant, chlorine must be used in water that is kept at a specific pH. Unless you’ve tested the water yourself, you are taking a risk. Also, chlorine doesn’t kill all bacteria instantly. Certain viruses and parasites can outlast the chemical onslaught, and it is possible to get an infection from any body of water.
Belly Button Piercing Cleaning and Aftercare
Once you’ve chosen a sanitary practitioner to perform your piercing and the initial pain is over, it’s time to take care of the site. Belly buttons take 9 to 12 months to heal.
Aftercare is vital to the healing process after a belly button piercing. Clean the area around the piercing twice daily. Antibacterial soap and warm water are recommended for washing your hands prior to tending to the piercing.
The wound may be tender for many weeks as it heals, and it’s important to keep the area dry. Over-cleaning may cause irritation to the skin and delay healing. If a discharge forms, clean the area with a light saline solution. The Mayo Clinic reports that you should not fiddle with the jewelry; just leave it in place while the puncture heals.
What Are the Effects of Chlorine on a Newly Pierced Navel?
If you want to get a belly button piercing, experts suggest that you do it in the early fall when you aren’t tempted to swim. You may think that swimming in a chlorine-treated pool is sanitary, but it’s not.
Chlorinated water is NOT recommended to clean the piercing because the chemical is complicated. While it’s a disinfectant, it must be used in water that is kept at a specific pH. Unless you’ve tested the water yourself, you are taking a risk. Also, chlorine doesn’t kill all bacteria instantly. Certain viruses and parasites can outlast the chemical onslaught.
Britain's National Health Service advises that it’s possible to pick up an infection from any body of water, which means pools and hot tubs should generally be avoided. No chlorine can kill 100 percent of potentially infection-causing bacteria.
Belly button piercings can become infected even years after the procedure, and they are the most difficult to heal. Swelling, redness or a yellow-green pus indicate an infection and must be tended to immediately.
Tips for Swimming with a Belly Button Piercing
If your belly button piercing is healing nicely, the lure of the pool may be hard to resist. If you insist on diving in, take care of the piercing spot beforehand. A waterproof bandage should cover the piercing, but using two is added protection.
Remove the bandages very carefully so as not to disturb the jewelry or the spot where the skin was pierced. Add a few drops of antibacterial soap to a cotton ball or Q-tip and swab the surrounding area, making sure that all the chlorine is removed. Rinse with clean water and dab dry. A few minutes in the sun should dry the area completely, and the pierced belly button healing can continue.
Belly button piercings can become infected even years after the procedure, and they are the most difficult to heal, according to Salisbury University. Swelling, redness or a yellow-green pus indicate an infection and must be tended to immediately. Stay out of the pool, avoid chlorine and see a medical professional.
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