Zoe kravitz

Zoe kravitzSource: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Chances are, at one point in your life you’re likely to get a piercing. Earlobe piercings are most peoples ‘firsts’, and are relatively quick and pain-free, but when you begin to pierce other areas of your body, you need to be cautious because the rate of infection is a lot higher. To make sure you never end up with a piercing that gets painful and infected, here’s everything you need to know before you get a piercing:

Invest in a good piercing

A good quality piercing accessory can make all the difference. The top three types of metal for a new piercing are titanium, stainless steel, (sss) and Gold. Avoid silver as it can irritate your skin when you initially get your piercing, although silver is okay to use once your piercing has healed. You should typically wait three months before you swap the initial piercing accessory with another.

Do your research

Research your local piercing parlors! Look out for tagged posts on Instagram, Tweets, check reviews on Facebook, and find out where your friend’s had their piercings done.

Don’t touch it!

One of the most common myths is that you need to move your piercing around so your skin “doesn’t fuse to the piercing.” This is not true; it actually increases your chances of infection as you’ll be disrupting the healing process by exposing open flesh to bacteria. If you are advised to move the piercing, make sure your hands are clean and you’re able to use a little salt water to clean the piercing before and after you twist the piercing.

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Aftercare is essential

After you get a piercing, you need to clean it twice a day with saline solution. Most piercing parlors provide a solution, but it’s better to make your own by combining one cup of boiling water with one teaspoon of salt. The quality of the salt is really important too; look for natural sea salt flakes, not table salt, which is processed with chemicals that can irritate the piercing. Make sure you wait until the water is lukewarm and then soak a cotton pad in the water, and gently hold it over the piercing site for five minutes.

Apply Ice

Ice is the easiest way to reduce swelling if it ever occurs around a piercing. This is especially important for any of you who travel regularly, as the air pressure on an airplane can cause your piercing to enlarge, irritating it slightly. Doctors suggest applying some ice 30 to 40 minutes before you land.

Deal with infection

Infections are a lot more common than you would think. If your piercing does become infected, a small white or red bump called a pustule will begin to form. Most often, they’re a result of a piercing gun, over touching or an allergic reaction to the metal used. The best way to treat it is to apply saline solution twice a day or use a topical anti-fungal cream like Fucidin. If the infection doesn’t heal in two weeks, return to the piercing parlor or see your local doctor.

Make sure you tell your friends!