How Long Does It Take for Nipple Piercing to Heal?

How Long Does It Take for Nipple Piercing to Heal?

Nipple piercings aren't as popular as some other piercing types, but they've definitely reached cult-classic status. If you're considering getting one, it's important to know what you're getting into before you make an appointment with your local piercer!

How Long Does It Take for Nipple Piercing to Heal?

On the faster end, your piercing might be healed in 4 to 6 months. However, it's not uncommon for a nipple piercing to take 1 year or even longer to completely heal.

Generally speaking, nipple piercings take longer to heal than many other body piercings. And it's impossible to know exactly how long the healing process will take until you actually get a piercing.

When Can I Change My Nipple Piercing?

To avoid infections and other complications, it is really best to wait 12 months to change your nipple piercing. You'll need to be patient: nipple piercings can take 3 to 12 months to heal completely!

Nipple Piercing Healing Signs

How to tell if your nipple piercing is healing? So now you know there can be quite a range when it comes to healing times. If you want to know when your piercing is completely healed, you'll need to keep an eye out for some of the nipple piercing healing signs.

If you've had other body piercings, the signs of nipple piercing healing should be somewhat similar.

That said, an infected nipple piercing can become quite serious. It's important to make sure it's healing to minimize your risk of infection. Here's what to look for:

  • Heat around the site disappears. Newer piercings can feel hot, but this initial inflammation should only last around a week. If the pierced nipple still feels hot after that, it may be getting infected.
  • It becomes less painful over time. Right after a piercing, you may experience intense pain. By the end of the first week (and possibly sooner), the pain should start to subside.
  • It leaks clear or yellowish fluid. Your body uses fluid from the lymph node while healing. Some of this fluid will usually leak and form crusts on the jewelry. This is normal, but if the piercing oozes greenish, brownish, or bad-smelling liquid, it may be infected.
  • You notice crusting on either edge of the piercing. This can happen for several months, and even some healed piercings form crusts from time to time. As your piercing heals, you should notice the amount of crusting start to decrease.

It's important to note that the outer edges around the jewelry usually appear completely healed before the inner part of the piercing. If you're too eager to change your jewelry, it's possible to re-introduce bacteria to the inner part of the piercing.

If you have doubts, you can always ask your piercer to check and see if your piercing is completely healed.

Nipple Piercing Healing Time and Process

There are three main phases of the nipple piercing healing process: open wound, healing, and toughening.

Nipple Piercing Healing Stage 1

The first stage lasts about a week after your piercing. It's generally the most unpleasant part (unless you suffer an infection later on).

In this stage, the piercing will likely be red and sore. It will typically ooze fluid or blood as well. Some people find that the piercing feels itchy, but for others, it just hurts.

Nipple Piercing Healing Stage 2

This healing stage is the longest. It can last anywhere from several weeks to several months.

In this stage, it's common to notice the "crusting" of the piercing. Healing piercings will often leak a clear to yellowish substance made of plasma, lymphatic fluid, and dead skin cells. When this substance dries around the piercing (and often on the jewelry itself), it often appears to crystallize.

Cleaning is important, as the crust can grow bacteria. If that bacteria enters the healing piercing, it can lead to infection.

As the piercing heals, it may be intermittently itchy or sore. Aside from the occasional flare-up, these symptoms should gradually lessen over time.

Nipple Piercing Healing Stage 3

During the toughening stage, the piercing itself is largely healed. The skin on the inside of the piercing becomes smooth, as does the skin around the jewelry. In this stage, you should be able to change jewelry without irritating the piercing.

Nipple Piercing Pain

How painful is a healing nipple piercing? The pain during the healing process is usually fairly minor. However, there are lots of nerve endings in your nipple, so nipple piercings are generally considered to be among the most painful ones you can get. 

For the first few days, it might help to apply ice and/or take an over-the-counter pain reliever.

Potential Risks

With proper care, your nipple piercing is likely to heal beautifully with no issues. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, you'll notice problems. The two main ones are a bump on or near the piercing and pus leaking from the piercing.

1. Bumps on Nipple Piercing

In many cases, a bump near the piercing is a sign of an abscess. If you notice a bump, it's a good idea to visit your doctor.

However, if you're hesitant about going, you can also get your piercer's opinion on the bump first. Experienced piercers are familiar with potential complications and should be able to identify a piercing-related abscess.

2. Nipple Piercing Crust

You notice crusting on the edge of the piercing. This can happen for several months, and even some healed piercings form crusts from time to time. As your piercing heals, you should notice the amount of crusting start to decrease.

Cleaning is important, as the crust can grow bacteria. If that bacteria enters the healing piercing, it can lead to infection.

3. Your Piercing Is Leaking Pus

If your piercing is leaking pus, you'll see fluid that looks different from the clear to the slightly yellow lymphatic fluid that comes out of nearly every new piercing. Pus is thick and usually looks yellow, green, or brown. In most cases, it has an unpleasant odor.

4. Nipple Piercing Infection

If you notice either one of these signs, you might be developing an infection. Infections in your nipple can quickly become systemic and cause serious issues. Make sure you see a doctor sooner rather than later.

Nipple Piercing Healing Tips

It's a good idea to take steps to help your nipple piercing heal. Here are a few:

1. Use Quality Nipple Piercing Jewelry.

Nickel and other low-end metals are more likely to irritate your skin, making an infection more likely. Instead, use implant-grade titanium, solid k gold, or another high-quality metal that won't cause skin issues.

Ashley Piercing Jewelry Half-circle nipple clicker ring 14g implant-grade titanium $24.9, SHOP NOW.

2. Do Sea-Salt Soaks.

Most piercers recommend soaking new piercings in a sea-salt solution twice per day. To do this, mix 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon salt into a cup of warm water. Let the salt dissolve. Pour the solution into a small cup that fits over the nipple and let the nipple soak for 3-5 minutes.

3. Leave the Piercing Alone.

It can be tempting to touch or play with your piercing. Don't do this! You're introducing new bacteria when you touch a fresh piercing (especially with hands that aren't clean).

4. Do Your Best to Protect the Piercing.

Snagging your nipple piercing on towels or clothing really hurts! It can also delay the healing process. Take any precautions you need to avoid causing additional trauma to a fresh piercing.

Nipple Piercing Aftercare

If you want to make sure your piercing heals fast so you can try out new jewelry, the best way to increase the odds of that happening is to take good care of your nipple piercing. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Get a sea salt spray and apply it three times per day. Salt is a natural antiseptic that can reduce your risk of infection.
  • In the first few months, soak the piercing in sea salt twice a day. You can make a sea salt solution by dissolving 1/4 tsp salt in a cup of warm water.
  • Protect the piercing so it doesn't snag on anything (women can wear a sports bra while sleeping, and men can wear a thick cotton undershirt).
  • Avoid touching the piercing as much as you can. This can introduce bacteria and cause an infection.
  • Avoid using lotion and soap on the area, as the chemicals may irritate the piercing.
  • Eat a balanced diet and get plenty of rest, as that can speed up the healing process.

Even if your aftercare is perfect, you may find that your piercing takes a while to heal. Some people's bodies just take longer when it comes to healing. Do your best to be patient, and you'll be enjoying your new jewelry soon!

To Conclude

Before you get a nipple piercing, be sure to take the long healing process into consideration.

To make sure your piercing heals entirely and doesn't get infected, you'll need to be committed to regular cleaning. Fresh piercings typically need two saltwater soaks per day. And even once your piercing is healed, it requires daily cleaning.

Piercings tend to build up sebum (skin oil) and dead skin cells. This mixture can quickly start to smell very bad! Don't get mad though. Cleaning your piercing will usually just take a few minutes each day.

It's a small commitment, but it's definitely one you need to make if you're getting a new piercing.

Read More

When Can I Change My Nipple Piercing?

Types of Nipple Piercings: A Complete List with Images, Pros and Cons

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