Caring for my clitoris — piercing, that is

Dear Alice,

I just got my clitoris pierced. I did not do a lot of research before I got it done and did not know you had to have a large clitoris to get it pierced. The piercer told me I had a very small clitoris but he pierced it anyway. The pain was so intense I screamed the loudest I have ever screamed. I have a very small ring through it and I think it is doing fine. Should I be worried because my clitoris is so small? The piercing is enclosed in my labia and I am afraid there is not a lot of air getting to the site. What should I do?

Dear Reader,

Good news — as long as you take good care of your piercing, the size of your clitoris should not affect the healing process. Some professional piercers prefer to pierce the clitoral hood instead of the actual clitoris to avoid damaging any nerves. However, the healing process is similar for the different piercing sites and should last four to eight weeks. If you haven't noticed any problems like pus or scaring, then your piercing should be doing just fine.

The best way to make sure that your piercing heals properly is to keep it clean. The Association of Professional Piercers (APP) recommends daily salt soaks and gentle cleanings for new piercings. Before touching or cleaning the piercing, first make sure to wash your hands. You'll want to soak the piercing in saline solution at least twice a day. You can purchase pre-packaged sterile saline solution (make sure the label says it's additive-free) or mix up your own salt-water. To make your own salt solution, dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of iodine-free sea salt in one cup of warm distilled or bottled water. It may seem silly, but the easiest way soak the piercing is to fill a plastic cup with the saline solution and flip it over your piercing to form a vacuum. This way the solution forms a "pool" around the piercing. You can also try soaking some gauze or cotton in the saline solution and holding that on the piercing.

The second part of caring for your piercing is daily cleaning. While you're in the shower, gently rub a pea-sized amount of liquid germicidal soap around the pierced area. Medical grade soaps like Provon or Satin work well for this job. Next, make sure you rinse the area well with water to get rid of any soap residue. After soaking or cleaning, dry the pierced area with disposable gauze or tissue. Steer clear of regular cloth towels since they can spread an infection or snag or your jewelry. 

If you're worried that the piercing is not healing properly or seems infected, see a health care provider who has experience caring for body piercings. Your piercer may be able to recommend a health professional who's knowledgeable about piercing.

For more information about taking care of your piercing, check out the related Q&As for more background on piercings. Remember, cleanliness is key to helping your piercing heal swiftly and safely. Enjoy your new body jewelry!

Last updated Jun 03, 2015
Originally published Dec 05, 2008

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