The navel is a sensitive place on the human body, and it takes a long time for the piercing to heal completely. The skin around a belly ring is full of nerves, and changing jewelry too soon can lead to complications, irritation, and infection.
A question ‘When can I change my belly ring’ doesn’t have a unique correct answer. To avoid complications, you need to wait for the piercing to heal entirely without showing any signs of infection, pain, and discomfort. Plus, it will help if you visit your piercer or dermatologist to make sure everything is okay before deciding to change a ring.
Wait for Piercing to Heal
Several weeks after piercing the belly button, the skin around the ring will be swollen, reddish, and sensitive to touch. Mild bleeding or discharge may also occur. Remember that proper hygiene and patience are crucial for your recovery.
The process of skin healing itself goes through different stages. After a couple of weeks, the piercing may look like everything is fine. However, the swelling may reappear over the next month, and you will see the liquid in the navel and crust around the ring.
Most piercers recommend waiting at least three months before changing your belly ring for the first time. However, it can take much longer, depending on your skin type, aftercare, and hygiene. Changing jewelry will be quick and painless if you give the skin time to recover.
The first sign that you are ready to change your ring is the look of your skin. If the skin around the jewelry has the same color as the rest of the belly and there are no changes for the next two weeks, you can try to remove the ring.
Next, take a tissue and lightly press the piercing. If there is pus, lymph, or any discharge, it is necessary to endure for a few more weeks. If the secretion around the ring has an unpleasant odor or an unusual color, you need to see a doctor because these are the common symptoms of an infection.
The final sign that recovery is complete is a lack of pain when you touch or move the belly ring. Gently grab the piercing with your fingers and check if you can slide it up and down for a millimeter or two. If you feel the ring sticks on the skin inside, you need to wait with the jewelry change.
Changing the Belly Ring
Once you are ready to change the belly ring, you need to disinfect the new jewelry. Soak it in the rubbing alcohol for 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, clean your hands well with antibacterial soap and dry them with a paper towel.
Clean your navel and piercing with saline before removing the ring. You need to unscrew the ball on top to the left or remove it by sliding, depending on the jewelry type. Carefully take off the ring and rinse the skin again with saline.
If you have difficulties with removing the piercing, don’t force it. Rough removal of jewelry can tear the skin, irritate it, and cause complications. If you feel any pain or discomfort, it is best to wait one more week. Another option is to take the new jewelry to a piercing studio so that a professional can replace it.
If you remove the belly ring without trouble, wash the new jewelry with alcohol, dry it with a paper towel, and slide it in place of the old one. Make sure to put the ball firmly to prevent falling the ring out.
Once again, clean the belly thoroughly and check if you set up the new jewelry correctly, if it sticks to the skin somewhere or if it is too loose. If everything works properly and there is no redness or swelling in the following days, everything is fine, and you can continue with the usual piercing care.
Take Care of Your New Ring
When replacing the belly ring, you need to clean and care for the navel for the next few weeks, just like when you pierced it for the first time. Rinse it at least twice a day with saline and occasionally disinfect the ring with alcohol. Avoid using shower gels when taking a shower. It will be enough to wash your navel with lukewarm water.
You can also make a sea salt solution by mixing distilled water with 0.25 teaspoon pure sea salt. Every morning and evening, you should soak a cotton pad with this mixture and gently tap the skin to remove deposits of secretions and lymph from the metal surface.
Some piercers recommend moving the ring slightly from time to time, while others believe you shouldn’t touch it for the first few weeks.
Whatever your position on the matter, try to resist the desire to change the belly ring often just for the aesthetic effect. That can lead to skin irritation, so it is wisest to wear the same jewelry for at least a few months.
Remember that many belly rings sold online contain a large percentage of nickel and can trigger the allergy. If an allergic reaction occurs, ask your piercer to remove the ring immediately.
Modern jewelry with zircons, crystals, and sequins can also cause itching and redness. Therefore, it is safest to choose a ring made of titanium or surgical steel. Once itching occurs, try to alleviate it by adding a natural antiseptic like tea tree oil to the saline solution. Avoid baby oils, balms, and excessively greasy creams.
Check for the First Symptoms of Infection
Unfortunately, an infection can occur rapidly after changing the belly ring even though you have sterilized the jewelry and taken all the precautions. The reason is that it takes a long time for the navel piercing to heal, and it is not easy to assess whether the skin has completely recovered.
If you feel pain when touching or moving the ring, the skin around the pierced hole is very swollen, or a greenish or yellowish discharge appears, your belly button is affected by the infection.
In such a case, put a warm compress on the area to alleviate the symptoms before visiting the doctor. The best option is to heat a clean towel and soak it in saline. Hold the wrap for about 15 minutes on the piercing to help the pus drains. It is also essential to reduce the swelling.
You can even get a high temperature, fever, and feel like you have the flu. Please don’t pull the ring off, or try to remove it while the skin is red and swollen. Instead, use the antibacterial cream to solve the problem.
Avoid antibacterial ointments because they are too greasy and can close the hole and help the infection spread faster. Don’t forget to set a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible.
Prevent the Possible Problems with a New Ring
Besides regular cleaning your belly button ring, you can prevent complications after changing the jewelry in several ways. For a start, wear natural fiber clothes that are comfortable, loose, and clean.
High-waist and tight jeans are not the best options since you may hurt the wound and cause bleeding or ripping the skin. Keep in mind that any rough fabric that rubs against the ring slows down the healing process.
Next, think about avoiding swimming pools, lakes, and beaches for a while. Unclean water can cause the infection even if you use the bandage to cover the piercing. Bathing with a bunch of strangers increases the risk of picking up bacteria that can cause many health problems.
The wrong choice of jewelry can provoke a reaction as well. It is crucial to choose the right gauge because micro-abrasions can occur on the skin and cause an infection when replacing your belly button ring with the thicker one. Plus, never select a too heavy ring with a dangling charm to prevent tearing the skin.
Finally, you shouldn’t lubricate your skin with scented lotions, perfume creams, and similar cosmetics. Most of those products contain alcohol and other chemicals that can irritate the skin. Some piercers note that hydrogen peroxide can also cause a reaction.
All you need is mild antibacterial soap, saline solution, and water to keep that area clean. Plus, don’t forget that excessive cleaning can be just as bad as none at all. It can dry the skin, lead to its cracking and itching, and slow down the healing.
The severe complication with the unhealed belly button may lead to removing the piercing and waiting for months to skin restore itself. Then, you will need to go again through the whole piercing process. Therefore, it is better to prevent any issues with proper care.
The belly button piercing needs more time to heal than other types, and you may need to wait for months before you can change the jewelry. Once the wound is healed, changing the ring will be painless and straightforward. However, watch carefully for the signs of infection and correctly treat the belly button before experiencing severe complications.