Septum piercing aftercare confusion.
October 12, 2008 1:36 AM   Subscribe

I just got my septum pierced and am confused about aftercare.

The sheet that my piercer gave me says to use a mild soap to clean it twice daily. The thing that makes me skeptical is that this list includes Dial anti-bacterial, which seems like an awfully strong soap for a piercing... and is scented, which i imagine could irritate it. It mentions sea salt soaks as a secondary measure to speed healing, but not required.

BUT, I googled "septum piercing aftercare" and found the BMEZine septum piercing aftercare guide, which ONLY mentions salt water and no soap. I also found this ask mefi thread which also mentions only salt water.

I have always been one to follow the piercer/tattooer/whateverer's advice on aftercare, but after finding more information, all of which supports using only sea salt soaks, I'm confused about what I should do. For tonight I soaked it with cotton balls soaked in sea salt water, but I'm unsure what to do tomorrow. Soap, or just sea salt from now on? Which one is less likely to irritate and more likely to heal my fresh piercing?
posted by sherber to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sea salt soaks all the way. BME generally knows of what it speaks.

Not to cast aspersions on your piercer, but I have heard some very dubious 'aftercare' methods recommended from various piercers and other 'experts' over the years, from soap to diluted tea tree oil to hydrogen peroxide (shudder). And while I've certainly seen people heal piercings successfully after doing dreadful things (or nothing at all) to them, all my bodmod friends and I always use the sea salt soak method exclusively with excellent results.
posted by Acarpous at 1:56 AM on October 12, 2008

If you're going to put anything on it at all, then just stick to salt water. You can skip the lavender oil that is mentioned at BME.
posted by K.P. at 2:18 AM on October 12, 2008

Sea salt and keeping your hands away from it will do just fine. Don't overdo the salt concentration or soaking frequency, and there shouldn't be any irritation. (For me, that's been two soaks a day and maybe 1tsp per cup of boiling water, but I don't know what other people use.)

I've gotten tons of weird aftercare advice, like Acarpous, involving products way harsher than necessary. If you're healthy and not doing anything strange to the piercing site, it should need a minimum of help to heal itself. If you're getting blind drunk and passing out face down on your piercing, maybe the Dial isn't the worst idea - that's as close as I've come to figuring out the mysteries of bad aftercare advice.
posted by carbide at 4:05 AM on October 12, 2008

Nthing these wise people—sea salt and warm water, and you'll be fine!

Also, if you tried to clean your septum with Dial, you'd probably get soap up your nose.
posted by kwaller at 5:59 AM on October 12, 2008

Best answer: Recommending Dial and other harsh aftercare methods is a really old-school thing. Piercers used to recommend this before they figured out that if you want to heal something, being gentle with it was the best way to go. Piercers who still recommend it are just behind the times, as the general consensus in the piercing community has changed to the salt soak method.

nthing the sea salt soaks. It shouldn't be any saltier than tears. One teaspoon per 8 oz of water is about right. Just stick your nose in the solution for a little while and try not to feel weird that your nose is in a cup of water. (It is a bit of an odd sensation.) I have healed numerous piercings this way and they all healed well and with no problems.
posted by bedhead at 7:32 AM on October 12, 2008

sea salt, definitely. triclosan (the active ingredient in antibacterial soaps) is not good for piercings.
posted by wayward vagabond at 8:06 AM on October 12, 2008

I used Sea-Clens (a wound cleanser). Spritz up the nose is weird, but is loosens the crusties nicely and you just need to wipe them off with a cotton swab. Saline / salt water will do the same, just make sure it's a mild mix (easy on the salt).
posted by comiddle at 8:23 AM on October 12, 2008

Definitely avoid anything scented. Cottonballs soaked in saltwater (1tsp per cup) have worked perfectly for all of my piercings, and I do have quite a few. Over the past years, I've seen a definite shift on the part of piercers away from things like Bactine or soaps, and in my own experience, the piercings I healed early on (using Bactine along with salt soaks) seemed to heal slower...
posted by ubersturm at 8:28 AM on October 12, 2008

Best answer: There are differing opinions about aftercare, and different things seem to work best for different people. That said, the sea-salt, no-touching, minimum-care kind of routine seems to be the currently-accepted best practice.
posted by box at 9:13 AM on October 12, 2008

I used a non-scented liquid antibacterial soap (I think it was actually marketed as "surgical soap") on mine, twice a day, and it healed faster than any of my other piercings. Congratulations, by the way. The septum is one of my favorite piercings!
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:19 AM on October 12, 2008

Best answer: infinitywaltz- surgical soap is usually antimicrobial soap, something different entirely. Still wouldn't recommend it, but it's better than Dial by far.

As for soaking a septum, I got some sterile cotton balls, soaked them in warm saline and put on in each nostril. It's way easier than trying to soak in a glass, and as long as the balls aren't hugely bigger than your nostrils, just as effective.
When I got mine done I was working two dirty jobs and spending time in the ceramics studio, so I carried around a Walgreens brand bottle of aerosol saline. Yes, it has preservatives and isn't the best, but with all of the particulate accumulating on my piercing from leading a dirty life, it was the best option. If you aren't a poor college student I'd suggest picking up a can of "Wound Wash" or whatever the aerosol saline is they sell at Hot Topic, neither have preservatives, just to keep around in case you need to wash or soak on the go.
posted by piedmont at 9:57 AM on October 12, 2008

The septum is a great piercing. I would not use dial but I have really sensitive skin, I know people who have used dial with no ill effects but the general consensus seems to be antibacterial is a little bit too strong to be the smartest route.

What you need is a little heat safe bowl that you can easily dunk your nose in without getting water all over the table/your shirt. Nothing is better than sticking your nose into a warm sea salt bath .. Successfully gauged up using this method too! I no longer wear a ring but have no face rotting issues and haven't had an infection with sea salt only.
posted by shownomercy at 9:58 AM on October 12, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! I marked a few as best answers, but really you all provided what I needed.. a general consensus to confirm my suspicions. And not only that, but some great advice about how to do it. I will be going out and buying some of that Wound Wash for sure, and soaking twice a day.

Thank you!
posted by sherber at 11:26 AM on October 12, 2008

if you go to the first aid section of the drugstore, you ought to find, among the peroxide and rubbing alcohol, something called "hibiclens". i think the bottle is light blue. it's very mild and antibacterial, and was recommended to me post nostril-pierce.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:05 PM on October 12, 2008

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