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Caring for new piercings

4 piercing tips from dermatologists

Follow these board-certified dermatologist tips to prevent problems in a new piercing, like infection or your piercing closing.

After getting a piercing, it’s important to care for it

The right care can prevent an infection, shrinking holes, and other problems.

Mother cleaning her young daughter’s newly pierced ear

A new piercing can be a fun addition to your personal style. Some piercings, like earlobe piercings, are more common and less risky than other body piercings. However, without the right care, you can experience complications after any new piercing, like an infection or your piercing closing.

The first step to caring for your piercing is choosing a qualified piercer. Choose an experienced piercer in a licensed studio.

Once you have your new piercing, keep it looking and feeling good by following these aftercare tips from board-certified dermatologists.

  1. Leave your jewelry in your new piercing for six weeks or more, even at night. Removing your starter jewelry too early may cause the piercings to close.

  2. Keep clean:

    • Always wash your hands before touching newly pierced areas. This helps prevent infection.
    • Gently wash your piercings with a mild, fragrance-free cleanser and water at least once a day. This, too, helps to prevent an infection.
    • Thoroughly rinse your piercings after washing them. You want to thoroughly rinse away the soap. Be sure to avoid getting water in places like your ear.
    • Avoid cleaning your piercing with hydrogen peroxide or antibacterial soaps, which can damage your healing skin.

  3. Using petroleum jelly that comes in a squeeze tube, gently apply a thin coat around each opening. You always want to use a squeeze tube because it will prevent you from transferring any germs that may be in an open jar to your piercings. The petroleum jelly will keep the piercings moist. A moist wound heals faster.

  4. Keep an eye on your piercing. If the skin around your piercing gets sore, red, or puffy, or a hole oozes yellowish liquid, you may have an infection. If any of these don’t go away quickly, see a board-certified dermatologist. If the skin around your piercing becomes raised, you may be developing a type of scar called a keloid.

If you feel a keloid developing or have questions about caring for your piercings, partner with a board-certified dermatologist.


  • Video created by the American Academy of Dermatology

  • Getty Images

Written by:
Brooke Schleehauf

Reviewed by:
Laurel Geraghty, MD, FAAD
Neelam Khan, MD, MS, FAAD
Ata Moshiri, MD, MPH, FAAD
Darrell S. Rigel, MD, FAAD
Sanna Ronkainen, MD, FAAD
Desmond Shipp, MD, FAAD

Last updated: 9/18/23