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Navel Piercing Tips and Aftercare

Updated on January 18, 2016
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Whitney is an expert on piercings and tattoos with experience in the body modification world.

Flickr image: groupsnap
Flickr image: groupsnap

Healing a Belly-Button Piercing

Navel piercings (belly-button piercings), are a common body piercing among women and some men. They heal relatively quickly with few complications, like ear piercings. But at times they heal more like a surface piercing, with rejection and migration risks.

For the most part, if you follow proper aftercare and healing procedures, you can successfully heal the piercing, unless your body just refuses, which is always a possibility.

Healing a belly-button piercing can be complicated by clothing and friction. Because it's near the waistline, you have to take into account pants, belts, and shirts that could catch on or irritate the piercing, especially considering how often you bend at the waist.

 New piercing shortly after getting pierced.
New piercing shortly after getting pierced.

Types of Navel Piercings

The belly button can be pierced at different angles and sides, but generally the more common navel piercings include:

  • Upper Rim: the standard belly button piercing, at the top of the navel ring.
  • Lower Rim: at the bottom of the navel ring.
  • Sides: anywhere in between the upper and lower navel ring; typically the horizontal left or right sides.

Some people have been known to get their actual navel (outtie) pierced, which could be called a true navel piercing. However, in my opinion, piercing an outttie should never be done due to the numerous problems that can present themselves from healing, misplacement, and movement. It's not safe. Don't do it.

Some people get surface piercings around the navel to accentuate a standard navel piercing. These are not technically belly-button piercings.

Aftercare for a New Piercing

If you stick to proper aftercare and cleaning, you should have minimal problems with just about any piercing.

The proper aftercare for navel piercing is as follows:

  • After you get the piercing, make sure that you have a pack of miniature Dixie cups and saline solution: not "contact cleaner," but "saline solution" sold at a pharmacy. Or use a dilute solution of sea salt (1 teaspoon sea salt to 5 ounces water).
  • Clean the navel piercing at least two to three times a day.
  • Wash your hands first.
  • Make sure to use a NEW, unused Dixie cup each day, using just enough saline to fully submerge the piercing.
  • Lay on a flat surface with the cup turned upside down on your belly, in order to fully submerge the navel, allowing the saline to work its way through the piercing.
  • Afterwards, you can dip a Q-Tip into the saline solution and gently go around both holes of the piercing to remove any excess crust or dried blood or fluids.

There is NO other reason to touch the new piercing.

Continue the process for at least a month to make sure things are fine.

You may experience crust or dried fluid for some time. Whenever this happens, use the Q-Tip to remove the dried fluid.

DO's With a New Piercing

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing that allows the piercing to breathe: cotton works best.
  • Make sure your hands are clean.
  • Do use a new Dixie cup and Q-Tip each time you clean.
  • Ask your piercer if you have any problems or questions.

Aftercare Don'ts

DON'Ts With a New Piercing

  • Do not use any type of ointment on the piercing—A&D, bacitracin, Neosporin, or Bactine— because it can smother a piercing.
  • Do not use hand sanitizer, Dial soap, or peroxide, as they are all too harsh for a piercing and can cause irritation.
  • Do not wear tight-fitting clothing that restricts the breathing of the piercing.
  • Do not touch your piercing for any reason other than to clean it.
  • Do not change the jewelry until you are absolutley healed. The best thing to do is to return to the piercer to make sure it's okay to change it, and perhaps to get him or her to change it for you. It's also good to buy the new jewelry from your piercer, so that you know you are getting high-quality jewelry.
  • Do not wear heavy barbells or barbells with danglies (things that hang) for extended periods. Danglies can catch on belts, pants, or shirts, which will irritate the piercing. The weight of heavy jewelry will pull on the piercing and irritate it. If you want to wear something gaudy and "bling blingin'" to "da club" that's fine, as long as you replace it with a normal, lightweight piece of jewelry when you get home.
  • Don't go into a pool, hot tub, ocean, lake, or any other body of water until your piercing is healed. It is unsanitary, and submerging the piercing in unclean water is bound to cause you irritation.
  • Don't use a tanning bed with a healing piercing.


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    • profile image

      Erin 2 months ago

      Also, as for the pool questions, I swam every day in a chlorinated pool, day one it stung a little but after that nothing. The reason it stung was because it wasn't even 5 hours after it was pierced. I also went into lakes and rivers within a wk to two wks after I just cleaned it when I was done swimming. This new "advise" I see plastering the internet I truly believe is hogwash. Ever friend I have that for a naval ring followed my advise and had no issues, but no I am not a professional, but I am experienced. I have 5 piercings not including my ears.

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      Erin 2 months ago

      I have had my naval ring for over 15 years. I used sea salt, antibacterial soap, Bactine, and Vaseline. I had absolutely NO issues with mine, it healed great, so I don't along with many others understand why you say not to use these products.

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      Jessica 3 months ago

      I use contact cleaner and haven't got an infection yet soooooo I don't see the problem in using it after all it is the same and saline solution

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      Rebecca 6 months ago

      Can i use iodised salt for the salt water?

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      Leeanna 6 months ago

      De , you should probably wait until track season. I wouldn't risk it.

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      de 6 months ago

      Okay im getting mine done but im on the swim team so should i wait untill track season and get it or will i be able t get it now and work my way around it??

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      Amy 10 months ago

      I highly recommend to everyone wondering whether to get it done; WAIT UNTIL WINTER! That's what I did. It means your friends or school are less likely to ask you to go swimming and whatnot. This means by the time summer rolls around again, you'll be able to swim to your heart's content. DO NOT swim for at least 4 weeks at the VERY least!!!! Even if you think the water is super sterile and really clean it doesn't matter!

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      Victoria Barnes 10 months ago

      I just wanted to ask about my piercing... I had my belly button pierced Monday (labor day) and it still hurts. I wear lose clothing and clean it like I should, what could the problem be if it isn't infected? @whitney05

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      21 15 months ago

      I peirced my belly 3 days ago and each day the red gets worse and it hurts really badly.... I've been putting ointment I was given to put on it and Bactine( lady who has her belly pierced said to use it)..

      Is it getting infected ?

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      trisha 2 years ago

      Okay, so I got my belly button pierced last Monday night, and I've been pretty diligent with cleaning it and not touching. The only problem is that I have a pool in my backyard and my parents are extreme with cleaning it because of small kids coming over now and again; so my question is, can I go in the pool or not? Because while I've read that it's a huge no-no, I'm fairly certain the chances of an infection caused from the pool are slightly lower than the chances of an infection from not cleaning the excess shampoo from around the piercing. BUT I don't know anything for certain, and I'd rather ask and find out before I end up with a problem. If I was to go in the pool and clean it afterwards (like asap) would that be okay? Or should I steer clear altogether?

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      Aidan 3 years ago

      A lot of people are asking things like "I just got it done two hours ago and it still hurts, is that normal." Yeah, for the most part it is. You just had a 14g needle shoved through your skin. Be careful not to sleep on it, clean it religiously with non-iodized saline solution and do not touch it for any other reason. Wait as long as your piercer told you to change it. Get high quality jewelry to change into. Piercings are tedious and require a lot of care and if you won't give you're piercing that care, you're not ready to have it.

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      kt 3 years ago

      AnonymousGirlie - funny how you say young girls should not get it done and you aren't even 19 yet! And your parents don't want you to get it but you are anyway? Makes no sense. I agree with you that 6th graders should not get it done but you are not that old yourself! On this site it tells you not to use soap but mainly every piercing/tattoo place tells you to clean it with a Triclosan based soap with no fragrances in it, like liquid dial but remember NO FRAGRANCES that will irritate it and make it worst. Clean it with that and some form of saline spray like H2Ocean and you should be fine. I've had mine pierced 3 times now.

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      AnonymousGirlieXoXo 4 years ago

      The amount of stupid questions and ridiculous grammatical errors on this site are mind-boggling. I don't know how young YOUNG girls are getting this done and their parents are completely okay with it. I'm almost turning 19 years old and I had to save up my own money for it and basically tell my mother it's my body it's my choice I'm a legal adult and can do this if I want to. So I did. I got it done a little over a week ago and it's healing fine. Use antibacterial soap and sea salt to clean it. Taking vitamin C helps it to heal a lot faster (I know this because I've used it before for my cartilage piercings). Ask all your weird questions at the piercer if they don't already tell you before/after it's done. It hurts a bit when the needle goes through, the clamp doesn't hurt at all. I hope you people really didn't go swimming 2 days after getting it done, but whatever.

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      Haley 4 years ago

      In 6th grade, my friend at recess was climbing on the monkey bars and her shirt came up and I saw she had gotten her belly button pierced! I was so surprised and at the same time in LOVE because of the dangly stars that were hanging from her belly button. It looked so adorable!! Turns out I ended up getting mine pierced at the end of that summer! I love wearing short shirts and my bikini so I can show it off!(:

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      heather c 4 years ago

      I'm Heather and I have a huge problem with my navel piercing. It is extremely infected. There is green puss, nastey crust, bleeding, swelling, purple, fluids, pain, and skin rip. I got it pierced 6 days ago, and I was told that it shouldn't be that bad. My mom and dad don't know about the piercing, and I'm to scared to tell them.I have no idea on what to do, and don't have anyone to help me. I can't go to the doctor and have serious stomach aches. I just wanna say, don't get a piercing without permission and take really good care of it or else you will regrett it

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      selena 4 years ago

      heyy my dad wont let me get my belly done and my friend told me that she would do it for me should i let her do it for me ?

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      Courtney 4 years ago

      I've got mine done and I just got told to clean it every day with salt water for a while and leave it in for 12 weeks and not mess with it. It's fine it bled on the day which they said it would, I just cleaned it with salt water, it felt a bit sensitive for a couple of days, it's almost a week since I got it done and it feels fine I didn't get told to do all this stuff, they said don't buy savlon and that just use salt water.

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      olivea 5 years ago

      I got mine done 4days ago and its red and it hurts a little but i clean it 5 times a day but i also take care of a 2 yr old who always hits it so is it red becuz of him?

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      Jordan 5 years ago

      Hi I'm going on a school trip to Paris for a week next Monday and we are doing lots of activities involving swimming , I'm not sure whether to get it done now or wait til I get back? I'm also going to Spain in August with my friend and we will also be swimming! Ps in Paris we will swimming in aqua boulevard (public pool) although in Spain I will be going swimming in the sea so do you think it's a better idea to get it done in the winter?

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      j*ray (bodypiercer of 6yrs) 5 years ago

      my suggested aftercare...use only seasalt. the best way to heal a piercing is good hiegene and as naturally as possible. please do not "play with" or touch your new piercing as this will transfer bacteria and possibly cause infection. only touch when cleaning! do not use harsh soaps or ointments BC this will irritate your piercing. also no pools, rivers or hottubs which can harbor bacteriA.

    • profile image

      Sarah 5 years ago

      I had my navel pierced for four months is healing great still crusty but I was told that's normal I find that a new clean shot glass works way better then a dixie cup just make sure to scrub it out after using it each time

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      jessicaa 5 years ago

      i had mine for a month and im scared that it will get infected puss comes out and its nasty. well i use soap, sea salt and bactine. Fist i wash it with antibacterial soap and i clean it then i put the sea salt water for five minutes and then i put bactine is this the right thing to do?

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      CollegeChick 5 years ago

      I have had my belly pierced for 3 years now. When I first got it done I was told to clean it with water everyday using a que-tip. While healing I used a cleaning solution that they sold that was H20 underwater something... had salt in it and something else. They said that I could also take lukewarm water and sea salt... and only sea salt nothing else... to keep it from getting infected. I haven't had any problems just make sure even after its healed to keep cleaning it because it is easily infected

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      south Africa 5 years ago

      Ok... So maybe things work different there... But I got my belly pierced two days ago (I'm 13) and the piercer didn't use a needle- he used a cathitur. I've just been using anti-bacterial soap, and got told NOT to use any salt or anything with fibres that could get into my ring. Also- I got pierced with a barbell (banana Bar) and I've had no problems. It hasn't been swollen or red the whole time. Its great. So, any anti-bacterial soap works brilliant. And salt causes it to become very tender. Hope this works:)

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      Kerri 5 years ago

      I just got my belly button pierced like 2 hours ago & it still hurts a little bit. The piercer said to use Dial soap on it but I've been looking on the web & almost ALL of them say not to use Dial soap so what should I use ? Should I use sea salt because my cousin used sea salt & her healed just fine . I'm 13 & a big baby & it really didn't hurt at all I mean it's just like someone pinching your belly button as hard as they can for like 10 seconds ! I'm just afraid that it'll get infected or something . The piercer said not to change it from the hoop to a banana bar until 6 months , but all my friends said that their piecer said to wait 6 weeks. How long should I wait ?

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      Daniella 5 years ago

      I got my piercing two days ago and so far so good. Looks great.

      I stocked up on Dixie cups, but they can´t they the pressure. They just get soggy and crumple and I end up with salt water all over. Are there any special type of cups one needs to get?

    • profile image

      rush 5 years ago

      I pierced my belly.. somehow I feel its not in the centre. Little bit on my right... Is it okay? Or should I re pierce it and when? It's the 5thday today. Please help.

      Thank you.

    • Deborah Wright profile image

      Deborah Wright 5 years ago

      I got my belly button pierced yesterday and it hurts bending back and forth.

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      sn0wflake17 5 years ago

      i just g0t mine 4 days ag0 and i been using bactine and i got a dangly ring so im scared that it is going to get infected today i noticed that it is like redish around n it hurts when i bend over or try to move it up and down is this normal?

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      Emmmz 5 years ago

      I had my top navel done about 3 years ago, nearly fainted when it was pierced and it took about 8 months to fully heal. Just had my bottom one done as well (didn't hurt half as much!) are there big chances of it rejecting because of the two bars rubbing together? Thanks :)

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      Starr 5 years ago

      I pierced my belly button myself two days ago. During this time I have sprayed a saline solution on it every few hours and it seems to be doing fine. The only thing is I would like to go swimming in our local chlorine pool. Is it okay to go Swimming but straight afterwards shower and then spray the saline solution on?

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 5 years ago from Georgia

      Until it's fully healed

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      smurf 16 5 years ago

      after how long can i swim after getting a belly button piercing? help please!

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      Cassy 5 years ago

      I'm turing 16 on sunday.. And tmrw im going to go get my nelly button pierced. I'm scared but at the same time excited! I'm a big baby so hopefully the pain won't hurt that bad for me (:

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      Alexa 5 years ago

      ok, so i got my belly peirced like 9 weeks ago and i changed it recently since it wasn't going too well. It was so red at both sides and puss kept coming out and hurt every time i touched it, so i changed it and its soo much better. However, im worried that it will get infected since i changed it too early. will it?

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 5 years ago from Georgia

      Honestly, it doesn't sound like it's doing well. It shouldn't be red after two week, when pierced properly.

      How are you cleaning it?

      The chemicals that you used does not properly clean any piece of jewely. What type of bar did you use- straight or curved?

      Rings are not ideal for navel piercings. Stick with a curved barbell.

    • profile image

      tiasophia9 5 years ago

      I pierced my belly button myself about 2 weeks ago. I'm 16, and mind you this isn't the first thing I've pierced on my own. I've double pierced my ears, and tried to do a thrid, but did not succede. My piercing is red and swollen, and there is some discharge, but not a lot. It's a little tender. But right now I still have just a bar that I disinfected in (1st) Hydrogen Peroxide for 15 minutes (2nd) Rubbing Alcohol for 10 and (3rd) Saline for another 15. Do you think it will be ok if I take it out and put in a proper ring? Or will that be bad for it?

    • profile image

      samantha 5 years ago

      I just got my belly button pierced today and was wondering about sports juring the healing part is there anything i should try to avoid? Btw my sports are netball and softball.

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      Hailey 5 years ago

      I want one and I was wondering do they always use the clamps?

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      crazi4chu 5 years ago

      I went to get my belly button pierced yesterday, but the guy pierced it up a little too high (the end of the piercing doesn't come out of my belly button) It hurt a little but now it looks like its fine. I don't know what to do about it, if i should take the piercing out and let it heal and then get it re-pierced or just deal with the fact that its above my belly button

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      mari 5 years ago

      Can you use sea salt && water to clean it or would it just be better to get some after care spary at the shop I think its called H2O ocean spary? Idk what is the best way to take care of it?I just got this done yesterday. So I'm like mm. Which way is better.?

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      mkay 5 years ago

      I've gotten by belly button pierced for over 5 years now. Also I've been reading about a 12 year old getting it done, DONT DO IT YET! just wait. For everyone it hurts different and for some none at all so there is no point in asking how much will it hurt and will it, it really varies on the person. Make sure you clean it with WARM salt water! not regular salt! do this 2 times a day. Try not wearing tight clothes for a while and go swimming, I'd suggest not doing it summer time.

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      Brooke.xox 5 years ago

      heey, so i just got mybelly button periced 3 days ago, im currently cleaning it with sea salt which they gave to me at the tattoo place call Planet ink, they were very good and the place was very clean :), my belly button hasn't been red at all just a lil itchy which is apperently a good thing so if you want it done, its pretty good as long as you clean it, so far i've been cleaning it 3 times a day which i'll do for 6 weeks :) either way i was teffified to get it, no im not gonna lie it did hurt but it was more like a sharp pain for like 10seconds and that's all. Hope this helps !!! :)

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      Paaaaan 5 years ago

      I Got My Belly Done 5 Days Ago And I Have Had It Done Before I Really Want To Change It Can I?

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      annah 5 years ago

      igot my stomach peirced 2 days ago.

      my friends want me to go swimming tomaro and i was wondering if it wud be okay that i went so soon?

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      amandaaa 5 years ago

      Okay, so I just got my navel pierced 12 days ago and it's healing really well. The piercer told me to use bactine unless it made it red so just to be safe I only use it right before I get in the shower then I use dial antibacterial soap (unscented). He also said to take a 50 mg Zinc supplement 3 times a day with meals to help boost your immune system and heal it quicker. I've only pulled it a couple of times which only hurt for like 2 seconds. I really think the Zinc supplement works well. So just something to try :) good luck.

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      Sherita 6 years ago

      Ive had my belly pierced for about 3wks so far. & haven't had no complications/difficulties nothing. I got it done in Ny. & my piercer put a ring in it for easier cleaning which make sense (so it can rotate) he said its best to use Dial soap (tha orange non-smelly kind] anti-bacteria soap. That's wut ive been using. Everynow & then i'll feel like a tingly kinda feeling but its bearable. haven't got in a pool, but if i do, i have thoese tegaderm things. To protect it while in tha water. I Hope this helps(=

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      Chelsea 6 years ago

      I just got my belly button pierced like 4 hours ago, it didn't hurt at all. They say the clamps is the worst part but its not. It feels like your taking your finger nails and pinching as hard as you can for 15 seconds. Its better to clean with saltwater or uncented anti bacterial soap. You will have bleeding for a little bit especially if you bend a lot but its okay. It'll only sting a little bit when cleaning to. I hope this helps!

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      Dallas 6 years ago

      many of my friends got their belly buttons peirced, and they all use different things, i use sea slt and bactine, is bactin ok to use? or should i use dial soap, but my mom doesn't know i have my peircing, so i want it to heal as soon as possible.

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      Molly 6 years ago

      I was wondering if it would be safe to go swimming in a lake? and if i could what would happen and what should i do about it?

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