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It’s safe to say that in general, people with body piercings live pretty alternative lifestyles. This is why it is so common to get alternative medicine advice on healing piercings. While we are proud supporters of certain alternative medicines – tea tree oil used on/around a healing piercing actually hurts it!
What is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil is an essential oil made from the leaves of the tea tree. Like all essential oils, it is a very concentrated oil (which means it should not touch any skin without first being diluted as it can cause burns). After dilution, it’s most commonly used on the skin for it’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic traits.
Why is Tea Tree Oil Commonly Recommended for Piercings?
So, you just read that tea tree oil is an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. That sounds like the ideal substance you want on a piercing that’s having trouble healing, right?
As we’ve discussed before, LITHA is the best method for healing a piercing. Unfortunately if you’ve been trying to heal a stubborn piercing for months and it just keeps a persistent irritation bump and consistently throbs in pain, it can be really really hard to do nothing. This is when people will begin to do research to find anything that might help the pain. Based on its healing characteristics, tea tree oil began being touted as the finnicky piercing solution.
The Dangers of Using Tea Tree Oil on Healing Piercings
You may be surprised to find that the very characteristics that makes people believe it’s helpful are the same thing that makes it so dangerous. Anything “antiseptic” is incredibly drying to the skin. A dry piercing can develop a rash, be incredibly itchy (which will make it even harder to keep your hands away), and cause skin flaking (which can get stuck in your piercing and cause irritation bumps). A dry piercing will be much more uncomfortable and take much longer to heal. Add in that tea tree oil on piercings can cause scarring and infections, and it’s simply something you want to stay away from.
Healthy Alternatives to Tea Tree Oil for Healing Piercings
If you’re reading this, it’s likely because your piercing hurts/is taking too long to heal and you want to find a solution. Unfortunately time is the only thing that can fix an irritating piercing. Some people find that salt water soaks can be especially helpful and can help keep the pain at bay for a while.
Safe salt water soaks can be performed by spraying your sterile saline solution into a bowl and soaking your piercing in it. Never attempt to create a salt water soak with your own water and salt as this is not sterile and can cause infections. Avoid taking too many salt water soaks or soaking for too long as it can also dry out your piercing. Salt water soaks should be done at most twice a day for 15 minutes at a time.
Unfortunately there is no product you can use to prevent irritation bumps and shorten healing times. If you have been using tea tree oil and have an irritation bump – stop using the tea tree oil immediately as it is likely causing the bump. Tea tree oil causes dryness, scarring, and can even bring infection. Always use the LITHA method and salt water soaks on a healing piercing.