A fresh piercing can help you create a dramatic new look, but it also can cause some irritation. Some itching is normal with a new piercing, because your body has to heal -- that doesn't mean you have to grin and bear it, though. Caring for your piercing can alleviate the itch so you can forget about the irritation and bask in the glory of your latest body mod.
Switch the Jewelry
Sometimes the piercing itself isn't what causes itching and irritation -- it's the jewelry. Low-quality jewelry can irritate a fresh piercing site, and if you're allergic to one of the metals used in the jewelry, it can make the itching even worse. Ask your piercer about switching to a high-quality non-toxic metal like titanium, 14K yellow gold, surgical steel or others that help you avoid the irritation that lower-grade metals can cause.
Keep It Clean
If your piercing is covered by clothing, wear light clothes that won't rub against it or block oxygen from reaching the skin -- otherwise the piercing can get irritated and itchy. Keeping your piercing site as clean and sterile as possible also can help you avoid itching. Bacteria transferred from your hands, for example, can make your piercing itch and even lead to seriously harmful infections. Ask your piercer or doctor to recommend a non-irritating cleaning solution, and use it as instructed. Using a harsh solution containing alcohol, or even cleaning too frequently, can dry out the piercing site and cause even worse itching.
The skin around your piercing can easily dry out, causing itching. Apply an antibiotic ointment like bacitracin according to its instructions -- apply only a light dab, though, as too much ointment can create a barrier that keeps oxygen from reaching your skin and helping it heal. This keeps the piercing clean and moisturized without affecting its healing. If the itching gets worse or you develop a rash, consult your doctor -- you may be allergic or need to try an antibiotic ointment with a different active ingredient.
See a Doctor
Though mild itching is normal for any new piercing, when it becomes unbearable or the site develops other symptoms, it's time to consult your doctor. The itching and irritation could be a sign of an infection that will get worse if left untreated -- look for other symptoms like swelling, rash, redness or discharge around the piercing. See your doctor before removing the jewelry, though, because if it is infected, doing so can cause the piercing to close and exacerbate the problem.
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Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.