Tea Tree Oil for Pierced Skin?
Q. I recently had my navel pierced. Is it safe to use tea tree oil to prevent infection? If so, should I use a 10 percent solution or full strength?
Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is a great natural germicide as well as an excellent remedy for fungal infections. It is an excellent choice to prevent infection after skin piercing. Apply tea tree oil full strength. It is perfectly safe. Your only concern should be whether or not you have a sensitivity to the oil. If so, you'll develop a rash and should stop using it.
Be sure to keep the area around your piercing site clean. Wash it with an antibacterial soap twice a day, making sure to rinse thoroughly. Try not to touch the inserted jewelry. If crusting develops, loosen it with a salt water soak (1/4 teaspoon salt to one cup of water). Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching the area, and don't let anyone else touch it until the piercing has healed. Until then, avoid all contact with someone else's saliva, sweat, or other body fluids.
While your navel area is healing, which can take four months to a year (other body parts take from six weeks to eight months), wear loose, clean clothing. Air can't circulate when you wear tight clothing, and if you sweat under binding clothes, you may develop an infection. Other precautions include making sure your bed linen is clean and avoiding public swimming pools and all hot tubs until you are completely healed.
During the healing process, be sure to wear jewelry made of surgical stainless steel, solid 14-karat gold, and other noncorrosive metals. Avoid sterling silver and gold-plated or gold-filled jewelry. And never insert jewelry from another person into your body.
In general, I discourage people from body piercing because of the risk of infection. In addition to infections that can develop in any wound, there is theoretically, at least, a small risk of contracting such infections as hepatitis or HIV. Anyone contemplating body piercing should patronize only experienced professional body-piercers who wear latex gloves during the procedure and follow proper hygienic precautions (a new needle for each client).