How Long After Piercing Can You Swim (And Why)?

Exact answer: After 24 hours

Piercing is a growing trend among beauty enthusiasts and influencers. It is an act of body modification where a part of the body is pierced with a metal ring. Nose and ear piercings are the most common variant of this trend. However, people also pierce other parts of their bodies including their lips, navel, etc.

Usually, there is some form of jewelry used to bejewel the pierced area. A ring or a stud is the most commonly used. Generally, after a fresh piercing, the individual in question has to take special care of the pierced area. This implies abstaining from water and swimming.

How Long After Piercing Can You Swim?

Medical professionals advise that an individual must refrain from swimming for at least 24 hours after a fresh piercing. However, this is more of a lower limit than a really exhaustive guide to avoiding contact of the pierced area with water. Ideally, one must wait to swim until the wound has completely healed. The actual time frame for avoiding contact with water will be dependent on the area of the piercing as well.

Usually, the time taken by the area that has been pierced to completely heal is different. Piercings on the ear lobe can take up to 6 to 8 weeks to completely heal, while navel piercings can take up to a year to heal completely.  Tongue piercings usually take from 2 to 4 weeks to dry completely. However, nose piercings can take up to 6 months to heal.

This implies that the time frames for each kind of piercing to completely dry and heal will inevitably be different. As a result, swimming is usually not advisable until these particular time frames are met vis-à-vis a particular individual’s pierced area. Moreover, the body of each individual heals differently, thus for some healing may be faster or slower than others.

Similarly, the time frames can also vary in accordance with where the individual proposes to swim. Swimming in pools is a much safer option for someone who has a fresh piercing and does not want to wait weeks and months for it to completely dry. Whereas swimming in the ocean, streams, and lakes may be more complicated and dangerous for the same individual.

In Summary:

Region PiercedPreferred Time Frame for Swimming Abstinence
Ear Lobe6 to 8 weeks
Nose6 months
NavelOne year
Tongue2 to 4 weeks

Why Do You Have To Wait So Long After Piercing to Swim?

Piercing any part of the body essentially means creating an open wound in the region. Thus, any piercing needs to be treated as an open wound and one has to take the same precautions as applicable to a wounded region of the body.

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This implies that the area of the piercing will be more susceptible to infections. Inability to keep the place dry during the days or weeks it takes to heal will cause severe infections to form in the region. Water is known to cause the formation of pus and infest the region of an open wound with bacteria. Therefore, one must avoid contact of the pierced area with water- thereby avoiding swimming until the area heals completely.

Different pierced regions heal within different time frames because of the thickness of the skin and cartilage present in the region. The thicker the pierced region, the more time it will take to dry completely. Thus, pierced regions like one’s ear lobe and nose need more time to heal.

When you opt for swimming with a fresh piercing you are essentially surrounding the wound with bacteria-infested waters. The chances of contracting an infection in such a situation will be higher than normal.

Moreover, if the person opts for swimming in a pool, the possibility of contracting a bacterial infection may be lower as pools use chlorinated water. However, places like the oceans, lakes, and streams do not have clean, chlorinated water. They are often the breeding grounds of various microbial contaminants.

The best yardstick is to remain away from any swimming activity until you cross the 2-week mark after a fresh piercing. After this period you can enter the water with a Band-Aid covering the area that has been recently pierced. This offers some marginal protection to the region until it is completely healed.

Conclusion

Although people on vacations may feel it is prudent to opt for a new piercing and then go swimming, it is not a very judicious idea. Swimming increasing the risks of contracting bacterial infections from contaminated waters when one allows the pierced area to come in contact with the water.

The area can then become infected and start forming pus. This can be very painful and dangerous for the person in question. Thus, it is always advisable to swim- if absolutely necessary- at least 24 hours after a fresh piercing. But, the safest way to swim after a piercing is to wait until it has completely healed.

References

  1. https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/abs/10.12968/bjon.2000.9.20.2163
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc1781501/
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