With all of the amazing jewelry choices out there, its no wonder you're so eager to change your jewelry as soon as you possibly can! It is very important to leave the initial jewelry in until the piercing is fully healed, unless your piercer advises and performs a downsize or jewelry change.
There are several stages to the healing process of a piercing. It's important to know what happens in each stage to be able to accurately know when your piercing is healed!
Stage 1: Inflammatory Stage
During this stage the piercing is a raw open wound, and swelling, soreness, and bleeding are all normal to see. Blood clots and plasma gather around the site and base cells begin to appear as the first layer for the growth of the new skin!
Stage 2: The Proliferative Stage
This stage is where growth of new cells happens! Your piercing will remain in this stage for most of it's healing time. Proteins and cells are produced and the edges of the site begin to heal and in this stage 'crusties' are normal. It's very important to still be extra careful with your piercing at this time, as the new tissues are very delicate!
It is also important to note that the piercing may appear to be healed, sometimes in this stage, but most of the time is not. This is because the piecing heals from the surface entrance and exit wounds first, and then in to the middle of the flesh. By the end of this stage the piercing is considered to be initially healed.
Stage 3: Maturation
During this stage the flesh lining the piercing becomes stronger! Yellow or white discharge around the jewelry is normal at this time.
Piercings are more complicated than a simple wound, and so they may go back and forth between the 2nd and 3rd stages for quite a while. Any complications such as bumping your piercing or exposure to harsh chemicals (shampoo, soaps, alcohol) will prolong this process! It may take up to a year or more for the piercing to be fully healed and the flesh lining the piercing to be fully stabilized. This is why you commonly see flare ups every so often in 1-2 year old cartilage piercings!
You may be thinking, how do I know for sure when my piercing is healed? Well, it varies from person to person and from piercing to piercing. These stages give you a good idea of where your piercing is at in the healing process, but your piercing can regress if it is not properly taken care of. For example, a piercing that has just entered the maturation stage can be regressed all the way back to an open wound if it is bumped too hard! This is what makes healing piercings such a challenge. It's important to remember why you got the piercing in the first place and stick with that instead of giving up on a difficult piercing.
It is your best bet to assume the piercing is unhealed and act as such until the average healing time that your piercer has advised for that piercing, has passed. Then look for the signs that your piercing is healed: The edges will have a sealed look, there will be no secretions, and no tenderness.
If you are unsure, it is always a good idea to revisit your piercer for their opinion!
I hope this gives you guys a bit more insight about the healing process of your piercings and allows you to better care for and enjoy your new adornment!
Until Next Week,