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Can I go swimming after a piercing?

Body piercings are certainly nothing new as it has been believed to date back more than 5000 years ago.  Nowadays, it is considered fashionable and trendy. Piercing is mostly done by teenagers and young adults either as a fashion statement or confidence but it does not mean older people are restricted to do so. Since piercings are beauty accessories a person will be wearing the whole time, there probably be concerns if it might affect a person’s decision to do some daily life activities. A person might be finding a doctor and ask, “can I go swimming after a piercing?”.

 In short,  the answer is no. It is advisable not to swim at least the first 24 hours after a piercing is done and ideally to wait until it is fully healed before immersing your body in water. This is because a new body piercing causes the skin to be inflamed temporarily. An inflamed skin can be easily infected as the skin barrier against infection is compromised. Hence, a person should avoid swimming in the pool, lakes, river, sea and even hot tubs. Generally, healing times can vary to the body parts. Take multivitamins for better health.

 Below are rule of thumb that may help you recognize a fully healed skin:

  • Ear lobe/ top of the ear- 6 to 8 weeks
  • Nose- up to 6 months
  • Tongue- 2 to 4 weeks
  • Navel (belly button)- 6 months to 1 year

 Having a body piercing is certainly not all sunshine and roses because having one means someone is at risk for infection especially when the piercing is still fresh. Cellulitis is the most common infection affecting the pierced area due to bacterial infection such as staphylococcus and streptococcus species. Individuals is at risk for sexually transmitted infections such as Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoea when having genital piercings.

 Cellulitis is a skin disorder characterised by the very red or dark colour of the affected skin, swollen, feeling warm or hot, painful upon touch and possibly the piercing site oozing with fluid such as pus or blood. Infection may also cause a person having fever, feeling tired easily and in the worst case may even cause alteration of consciousness. Treatment offered depends on the severity of the infections. In mild infections, warm compress and over-the-counter topical antibiotics may help reduce the pain and inflammation. Doctors sometimes would prescribe oral antibiotics according to severity of the infections or the piercing body parts such as cephalexin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole or ciprofloxacin. Minor surgery like incision and drainage will be done for patients with abscess to help reduce the pain and to speed recovery. Treatment usually needs 5 days but sometimes can be extended when there is no sign of improvement. Patients might be offered for tetanus vaccination or booster if patients have not received any of it for the last five years.

Therefore, a person getting a piercing done needs to prevent themselves from getting an infection by practising good hygiene and making sure the pierced area is clean. Here are some tips to keep your piercing stay on put and a healthy you:

  1. Before getting those nose jobs or any piercing, do some research before walking into any piercing parlour. Make sure they are trusted, certified and practising proper sterilisation techniques.
  2. Ensure a clean and dry area of the piercing.
  3. If you are advised to clean the piercing area, gently clean it using sterile saline solution designated for wound cleaning. It should be cleaned as necessary and not over-cleaning.
  4. Any bedding or clothes that may be in contact with the area around the piercing need to be in a clean state.

References:

https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/can-i-go-swimming-after-a-piercing/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537336/

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