Whether you've just got a new body mod, or you're thinking about getting one, you might be wondering: How long should a piercing be sore? It's a simple enough question, but the answer isn't quite as straight forward. There are so many different types of piercings from the classic ear lobe, to the belly-button, to the tongue, to the cartilage piercing; not to mention all the other "naughty" ones like playful nipple piercings. As different body parts contain an array of flesh thicknesses, it's easy to see how one freshly pierced anatomical area might feel more sore than another. However, when you take into account the fact that humans have differing pain thresholds, it all gets a tad confusing — how can one person's pain be directly compared to another? Some hardcore folks suffer migraines continuously, some women have given birth, and others have never broken a bone in their body. Everyone's experience of pain varies.
Of course, I'm no piercing expert — having had just one ear pierced as a kid due to my wimpish demeanour, then both earlobes pierced again in my teens, only for them to frustratingly heal up — I'm definitely not the ideal person to be asking about piercings. So, I spoke with TJ Cantwell, a professional piercer from Studio 28, to get the low down on how long a new piercing should be sore for. Because nobody wants an infection, so it's best to arm yourself with knowledge and act swiftly.
As I suspected, Cantwell tells me over email, "Soreness is very general to the person. Some people are sore for longer than others." Cantwell explains, "It also depends on the placement of the piercing as well. A good ‘round about’ is no more than a week of soreness. That is provided there are no complications with the piercing like it getting bumped or rubbed, caught on something, sleeping on it, etc. Everyone knows their own body better than anyone else's." Try to be gentle with your freshly pierced skin — after all, you've just punctured it with a needle, so be actively more aware than usual, so you don't accidentally snag it on something.
"There is no way to say when is too long or too short that discomfort needs to be investigated." Says Cantwell, "The clients should always be able to visit their piercing shop and have a professional body piercer check out the piercing to make sure it is ok, or go over what needs to be done to get it better. There are so many scenarios that can play out with healing that it is always best to refer to your local piercer and have them give you the proper information." So make sure your local pro piercer is someone you'd feel comfortable going back to and asking all of those nitty-gritty questions; when it comes to your health, there are no stupid questions.
Cantwell tells me, "The ‘I’ word (infected) is something that we deal with all the time. Majority of the time people will come in thinking they have an infection and that is rarely the case." However, if you have got an infection, Cantwell explains what to look out for, "An infection would be signified by a very hot feeling and extreme pain. Usually a bright colored discharge with a strong odor to it will be associated with an infection."
When it comes to things that likely indicate that you don't have an infection, Cantwell says, "Redness, bumps, white, or yellow discharge, are all signs of a normal healing or an irritation that is being caused by something. Usually an outside factor or a bad angle on the piercing." But, it's always best to be safe than sorry and get checked out by your pro piercer or a medical professional.
So as long as you've been extra careful with your new piercing, you can expect about a week of soreness, but if you experience lingering soreness longer than a week or so, you know where to go!