This article is from the Piercing FAQ, by Anne Greenblatt with numerous contributions by others.
Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap before touching
your piercing or jewelry.
Most piercers suggest rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash after
eating, drinking anything other than water and smoking.
Mouthwashes are not intended to be used as often as is typically
required for oral piercing aftercare. Mouthwashes with a high alcohol
content such as Listerine quickly dry out the tongue's protective
mucous layer. Alcohol-free and reduced alcohol mouthwashes such as
Biotene, TECH 2000, Rembrandt, and Oral-B brands are suggested. TECH
2000 has the added benefit of being effective against thrush (Candida
albicans). If you use an alcohol-based mouthwash dilute 50% with
bottled water, preferably distilled. After using any mouthwash rinse
with water to reduce mouthwash residues and dryness.
A white discoloration of the tongue indicates that the mouthwash is
being over used. When over used the mouthwash dries out the mucous
layer of the tongue, upsets the pH and depletes the healthy and
necessary bacteria of the mouth. Depletion of healthy bacteria can
result in thrush (Candida albicans), a fungal infection indicated by a
white carpet-like layer on the tongue. Medications for treating thrush
are only available with a doctor's prescription. In some cases the
condition of the mouth can be restored if frequency of use is
reduced. Some people have successfully treated minor thrush by rinsing
with warm salt water containing a few drops of tea tree oil which is
said to be fungicidal.
Oral cleansing antiseptics such as PerOxyl and Gly-Oxide containing
peroxide or carbamide peroxide may be detrimental towards healing when
used for a prolonged period. Use of these products in addition to an
antiseptic mouthwash is probably unnecessary. The US Food and Drug
Administration has declared "oral wound healing agents [including]
allantoin and carbamide peroxide in anhydrous glycerin" as
"unacceptable" because these products have not been found to be safe
and/or effective for treatment of oral wounds; these products have
effectively been recalled. See "FDA Medical Bulletin, January 1996,
Volume 26 Number 1" at http://www.fda.gov
During the first 24 to 48 hours the tongue usually swells to almost
twice its normal size. Swelling should not impede breathing. Apply ice
and drink ice water to minimize swelling and tenderness. Some people
use over the counter anti-inflammatory pain medications to reduce
swelling and discomfort. Do not take Aspirin because it thins the
blood. Swelling and discomfort should steadily recede during the next
3 to 5 days. The area immediately around the piercing will be swollen
for an additional 2 to 4 weeks. The lymph nodes in the neck and under
the jaw can respond to the piercing by becoming swollen and tender for
a few days.
After the swelling has receded, warm salt water rinses may be used to
remove discharge and lymph secretions. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or table
salt to 8 ounces of distilled water is suggested.
Bleeding usually stops immediately with application of ice. The
piercing may bleed very intermittently during the next few hours. If
the piercing does not clot or bleeds after 48 hours the piercing may
have nicked a blood vessel and may require medical attention. Using a
needle thicker than the jewelry often results in heavy bleeding. If
the piercing bleeds while you sleep or upon waking the piercing may
have become dry during the night causing the clot to adhere to the
jewelry and reopen the piercing when the barbell is moved.
Tongue piercings produce a discharge just as any other piercing. This
discharge is sticky and white to off-white. A dark yellow or green
discharge indicates an infection.
The inside entrance of lip, labret, cheek piercings should be treated
as described for tongue piercings. The outside piercing should be
cleaned following the instructions for facial piercings.
Do not allow your piercings to come into contact with another person's
Avoid spicy or hot foods. Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages during
the first week; alcohol is a chemical irritant and thins the blood
which can cause excessive bleeding and swelling.
While smoking may be irritating but not necessarily damaging to a new
piercing the use of chewed tobacco products is highly discouraged in
the case of any oral piercing as the use of chewed tobacco has been
attributed to oral cancers and lesions.
Get a new toothbrush. Do not chew on pens or other items or share
eating utensils or glasses.
Oral jewelry will collect plaque, especially in the crevice between
the ball or disc and the bar. Plaque traps bacteria and can cause the
jewelry to have a bad odor. Daily use of an anti-plaque rinse will
prevent plaque build-up. To remove a build-up of plaque, remove and
soak jewelry in an antibacterial denture cleaner following the package
TECH 2000, Care-Tech Laboratories, 1-800-325-9681, (314) 772-4610