Preparing Your Body

A few myths to dispel: getting tattooed is not as painful as many suspect, although it may be uncomfortable, depending on its placement on the body Some parts of the body may be naturally more sensitive than others (i.e. any 'bony' area, compared to any 'fleshy' area) Having said that, there is no body part 'better' than any other for a tattoo Ultimately it depends on both individual taste and the extent to which you are willing to be public with your tattoo, although reputable tat-tooists will Tefuse to do hands or faces Irrational fear is the worst pam-tngger of all Reaction to pain varies enormously from one individual to the next Hence, you must be aware of your own pain threshold and be adequately prepared If you know you aTe prone to fainting at the sight of needles or blood you may want to take some precautions since tattooing includes both of these However, this does NOT mean taking drugs of any sort, including alcohol, since by altering your perception these will make the experience even worse, rather than helping you to relax. Instead, aim to be in a good mood. Devote some time to preparing yourself and your body for this unique experience. Acknowledge pain as a new sensation to feel, rather than something to fear and avoid. Pain comes in waves. Try to 'surf’ them. The more accept ing you are of pain, the more you will be able to embrace it, become pne with it and feel elation rather than distress. Tattooing is very much a collaborative process between you and your tattooist. He or she knows which parts of the body are bound to be more uncomfortable and will have the expertise to put you at ease. Listen carefully to his or her advice on the matter and trust it.

Your Piercing Appointment

Visit several piercing studios and observe the work area. Is it kept in a clean and sanitary condintion? Does it have good lighting? Is there an autoclave? Ask to see the sterilization equipment. If the piercer refuses to discuss cleanliness and infection control, go somewhere else. If they are reputable they will take pride in being helpful and showing you around.

Immediately Before Piercing

The piercer must wash and dry his or her hands and wear latex gloves. Gloves must be worn at all times during the piercing prodecude. If any other object is touched (such as a phone), the piercer must wear new gloves.


Always wash youT hands before touching the piercing. Remove any dressing after one to two hours and do not reapply, unless you are in a very dirty/dusty environment. Clean your piercing two to four times daily with a mild, undyed, unfragranced, non-creamy soap. Gently remove, all dry matter (lymph fluid and dead skin cells) from the jewelry before moving it, or it will scratch and Teopen your piercing. Whenever possible aiT dry. Avoid any contact with foreign bodily fluid to the area (sweat, blood, saliva, etc.). Try not to catch your piercing accidentally. Do not wear anything that rubs against it. Be careful ifusing a swimming pool during healing as bacteria and poor quality water may cause infection. Be aware that common skincare products may contain irritant components. Do not remove the jewelry until well after the piercing is completely healed. Once healed, a piercing is permanent. Removal of jewelry will-cause the hole to shrink, and jewelry re-insertion will need a gentle stretching beforehand. Failure -to clean your piercing may lead to infection.

Do Use

Salt water is the least reactive and most effedive cleaning solution (1/4 teaspoon of salt to one cup of dean water). Also good aTe seawater and your own urine. Urine is a sterile cleaning agent as the uric add it contains kills bacteria without hindering the formation of new cells. Essential oil of lavender is a natural antibiotic and a few drops may be added to a salt water solution. All immune system boosters (vitamin C, echinacea, ginseng and garlic) will speed healing. During the healing period your piercing is the most vulnerable part of your body, so it will be affected by a low immune, system; physical and / emotional stress, hormone changes and PMS, etc. The better you treat your body by eating Well, sleeping enoughand avoiding stress, drugs and alcohol, the faster your piercing will heal. A zinc supplement at the beginning will also help. Vitamin E at the end of the healing period helps prevent excess scarring.


Alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are far too harsh and can destroy new healing tissue. Antibiotic ointments, especially on the genitals, septum, nostrils and near eyes or inner lips are not necessary unless treating infection and directed by a dorior. Perfumed, dyed or cream soaps, makeup, perfume and hair produrts rnay contain irritants. Plasters create an ideal thriving place for bacteria. Avoid holding a public telephone against a newly pierced ear. Finally, avoid excessive handling and overdeaning.

In Case of Infection

The body Tecognizes a new piercing as if it were a sliver, thus some discharge and a little redness are normal. However, if signs of infection are present (increased redness, tenderness, heat, swelling) antibiotics may be necessary. See your piercer and seek medical treatment. In particular, be careful of infection in nasal piercings as this may cause serious complications. If you are allergic to the jewelry, the skin around the piercing will look as if it is pulling away - have jewelry replaced with more compatible materials.

Never accept a piercing done with a piercing gun as this cannot be properly sterilized. Body piercing should be done ONLY with a new, sterile needle in order to minimize risk of exposure to the HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B viruses. Jewelry must be made of a non-corrosive metal, such as surgical stainless steel, niobium, titanium or solid fourteen-carat gold. Gold-plated jewelry should not be used. Before piercing you should be given a consent form. If you are a minoT you wjll need a signed consent form from your parents.1 Remember that not all piercings suit all bodies. Your piercer can advise on how to choose the piercing best suitedto your body shape.

Healing Times

All body piercings require diligent care and time to heal, depending on their placement. Humans have been healing piercings for thousands of yeaTS without antibiotics or soap. Your body knows how to heal a piercing. If you keep your piercing clean and take good care of your body you will heal fast and well.

Ear lobe

6 to 8 weeks

Ear cartilage



6 to 8 weeks



Nasal septum


Nasal bridge










Female genitals

4 T0 10 WEEKS

Male genitals



Piercings inside the mouth (i.e. the tongue, the inside of labret, lip and cheek) are usually kept clean by saliva. In addition, rinse your mouth with salt water or alcohol-free mouthwash, several times each day, especially after eating, drinking and smoking. To reduce initial swelling of the tongue suck on ice cubes. Eat soft food. Avoid excessive talking, sharing drinks and oral sex. Smoking, spicy foods, tomato juice, spirits and citrus juices will sting. Once the swelling has gone the jewelry can be downsized.


Genital piercings (both female and male) heal fast and successfully thanks to the good blood supply in the area. For this reason they may also bleed a little more than others. Avoid all sexual activity for two weeks - do not get too playful for the first month to avoid bruising, tearing or hurting the piercing. Use a condom or dental dam for a few weeks afterwards as you may risk infection (even in monogamous relationships). Male genital piercings are cleaned internally every time you urinate, so drinking plenty of water helps.


Stretching means to enlarge a piercing by gradually inserting bigger jewelry. The effect is to turn the piercing from semi-permanent (for the first twelve to eighteen months a piercing will close rapidly if jewelry is not worn) .to permanent. If you decide to go for stretching, it is important to be extra-patient, proceed slowly and respect healing times at all stages. Rushing the process will only cause problems later on. Each individual is different and the amount of time required between stretches can vary. However, it is advisable to wait at least six weeks between one stretching and the next and, as always, to seek the advice of a professional on whether or not stretching is appropriate to a particular piercing.

A Final Word On Piercing

Getting pierced demands total trust in your piercer and in yourself. The rewards can be high, revealing a great deal not only about your body but about your capacity to be vulnerable, to trust and to conquer your fears (and not only the fear of needles). Because it creates an opening in the body, piercing is an experience in which exposure and strength converge in the here and now. For these reasons, and for many others as numerous as each individual, piercing has a strong ritualistic aspect, and is often seen as a tool of growth and self-understanding.