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By Meghan O'Neal 04/10/2019

When dealing with a new piercing, aftercare practices become a part of your daily life for a few months. Many things can go wrong while you heal, and it’s important to do all that you can to avoid potential mishaps.

Since healing adds complications to your life, and an important part of healing is getting proper rest, it’s advisable to stay home where you can maintain an aftercare schedule and take care of yourself in a familiar environment.

Some people are too adventurous to take this advice.

When you receive an email notification with insane plane ticket deals, sometimes it’s too good to pass up. Or, a new city might speak to you, leading you to get a piercing away from home. Whatever the case, you can’t always avoid travel while healing.

Here are some tips on how to continue smart aftercare practices while on the road so that your new nose piercing can heal happily.

Be mindful on planes, trains, and busses

On any long trip, regardless of the mode of transportation, you’ll find yourself taking a nap or using the amenities. While you are most likely aware of the rampant germs on journeys such as these, you must be extra aware when you have a new piercing.

A person looks out a train window as it turns
Photo by JK on Unsplash

If you’d like to take a nap, make sure that your new piercing isn’t touching the window or headrest, especially if it’s a new ear piercing. Bring your own pillow with a clean pillowcase to sleep on, or you can rest your head on a clean t-shirt. Additionally, you need to make sure that you don’t put pressure on your piercing, so if you know you’re going to sleep during your travels, it’s a good idea to choose a seat that allows you to rest your head without sleeping on your piercing.

Don’t trust the water in the restroom. The tap water sits in a tank, and it’s questionable how often those tanks are cleaned. As you travel, you might be tempted to disinfect your jewelry, especially if you have a long flight. Make sure that you bring bottled water and use a disinfectant to clean your hands if this is the case.

Be kind to your immune system

During healing, your body’s immune system is working in overdrive to get your piercing healed. Traveling tends to wreak additional havoc on your immune system, making you more susceptible to infection.

It’s a good idea to be extra vigilant in your overall health practices during travel to help your immune system as much as you can. If you’re dealing with jet lag, make sure that your body is well-rested. It’s okay to have some drinks, but keep in mind that binge drinking can slow down your immune system and affects overall healing, so refrain from partying in excess. Wash your hands regularly and keep hand sanitizer handy, especially if you’re taking advantage of public transportation or visit areas with large crowds. Take vitamins, drink water, and simply take care of yourself.

Know where you can find help if you need it

Sometimes, even the best aftercare practices fail. An infection can spread and become problematic quickly, so it’s a good idea to know where you can find a doctor to get the treatment you need.

Exterior shot of an emergency room

Other issues, like incorrectly-sized jewelry, need to be addressed by a piercer. Since it’s important to opt for a high-quality piercer, it’s a good idea to conduct research beforehand to find the piercer that you can consult if anything were to go wrong.

Bring plenty of aftercare products and know how to make your own solutions at home

Especially if you’re visiting overseas, you won’t always have access to your favorite medical brands. (Any American who’s ever had a cold in Europe can attest to the frustrations of Europeans’ weak over-the-counter cold medicines.) Make sure that you have plenty of what you need in good supply and research the accessibility of your favorite aftercare brands in case something happens to the products you bring.

In case you run out, be aware of at-home treatments. A salt bath is super easy to mix at home, and sea salt is widely available. If you do an at-home treatment, make sure that you use distilled or bottled water. It’s always important to opt for purified water over tap, but other cities, especially in other countries, may have microbes in their water that your body isn’t used to and that could be harmful to your piercing.

Beware hotel linens

If you’ve stayed in a hotel, then you’ve probably experienced the horror of finding a stranger’s hair in your bedding. Even the sheets in the cleanest hotels have likely been slept upon by hundreds of people before you. You should not trust the linens to be anywhere near your new piercing.

A bed in a hotel room
Photo by Rhema Kallianpur on Unsplash

You don’t have to bring your own bedding to avoid the hotel linens. Put a clean t-shirt over your pillow to act as a pillowcase. Make sure that the sheets aren’t touching any piercing. And, if all else fails, you can cover your piercing with a taped cotton ball or bandage.

You should, however, bring your own towel and washcloths. Make sure that you clean your towels regularly and limit the amount of time your towel touches your piercing. When drying the piercing area, opt for paper towels to avoid snagging and to ensure that the area is clean.

On metal detectors

Metal detectors may or may not detect your piercing jewelry. Many heavily pierced people claim that they’ve never experienced difficulties with their piercings, and others tell horror stories about having to explain their nipple jewelry to TSA.

It seems as though there’s no guarantee that your jewelry will or won’t be detected by the metal detectors. If your healing piercing is in its last weeks of aftercare, you can put in a plastic piercing retainer that won’t set off the metal detector, avoiding the issue altogether. However, if your piercing is brand new, this may not be an option for you.

Be aware that your metal jewelry could cause a delay and arrive at the terminal with plenty of time to spare. If you have piercings in sensitive areas, like your nipples, keep in mind that you have the right to request a body search in a private room with someone of the same sex. Don’t let security stress you out, and know your rights as a passenger.

Overall, the most important part of aftercare on the road is maintaining your proper aftercare schedule. Traveling poses additional challenges to your aftercare simply because travel complicates any daily routine. Keep your piercing clean, say no to activities that might harm it, and you and your piercing should be just fine.

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Meghan O'Neal

One Reply to “Tips for the Pierced Traveler: Can I Travel With a New Piercing?”

Wandi 1, 16 Apr 2019

I can attest to this. I had a Tragus done on each ear. One did fine, one swelled up 1/2 the size of smallish ear. My luck, of coarse the shop was closed and had to hit the ER….. They had NO IDEA what to do and gave me antibiotics this was a Saturday I went into the shop Tuesday when she opened and she popped it right out. I now have a scar and she said it would probably not be a good idea to try again because of scar tissue. So I had her take out the other. 😭

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