Saline Solution - How does it work?

  • 4 min read

What is Saline Solution?

On a very basic level, saline solution is just a mixture of salt and water. It usually contains 0.9% salt (sodium chloride), which is - fun fact - the same amount of salt naturally found in blood or tears.
Saline solution is believed to have been around as a common medical tool to clean wounds since the blue cholera pandemic in 1831! Another fun (or not so fun) fact. And while science and medicine certainly have evolved a fair bit since then, it is still one of the best things to treat wounds with - including fresh piercings!

How does Saline Solution work?

The answer to this is simple. Bacteria loves moisture as much as most of us love McDonalds. And saline solution dehydrates bacteria, eventually killing it off and leaving the area in a nice and clean condition, perfect for our body to heal our wounds. Especially with piercings, where a foreign object is inserted into the tissue, our body can use any extra help to make sure a smooth channel is formed around the piercing.

What is better, a store-bought saline spray or a homemade solution?

This is also a simple answer. Homemade saline solution has a higher risk of contamination or having the incorrect ratio of salt and water, which can cause complications during the healing of your fresh piercing. So, we would always recommend getting a sterile saline spray to make sure your piercing has the best possible condition to heal nicely! If you want to make your own solution, make sure to follow the ratio listed below very accurately, to avoid any of those complications.

How should you make saline solution at home?

250ml of boiled or sterilized water
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt or rock salt (make sure you avoid regular table salt or salt with added iodine, and that your salt comes as little chunks in a grinder rather than a fine powder, this usually contains anti-caking agents)

Boil the water and fill it in a clean cup, then add the salt and stir it with a clean spoon until it is fully dissolved. Cover it to avoid dust and other microbes getting into it, let it cool down to a lukewarm or room temperature, and your solution is ready to be used.

And that is it. Yes, that is all you need to do. But make sure you don't use too much salt or not enough water. If you over salt the mixture, you will not only dehydrate the bacteria but also dry out the upper dermis around the piercing, which can lead to microscopic cracks in your skin. This can then provide a better environment for bacteria to grow, despite you cleaning the piercing with saline solution. You should also make the homemade solution fresh every time you clean the piercing, as you will never be able to reach the level of sterilization under which the store-bought solutions are made, and your homemade solution will expire at a much faster rate.

Now, all you need to do is apply the solution to your skin, right? But which way is best?

There are 2 main ways to clean your piercings with saline, you can either spray it on and wipe it off, or let it soak in the solution for a bit.
Most piercings, especially on the ear, don't need more than a spray or a wipe with saline solution. Others, like nipple, navel, or other body piercings, can benefit from an occasional saline soak, to ensure the piercing is cleaned thoroughly from the inside and out.
The quick way:
Either spray some of the store-bought solution on the piercing, or use a cotton bud (or preferably a piece of sterile gauze), to apply the solution around the area. We highly advise not to use cotton pads, as the fine fibres can get stuck to the piercing. Leave the solution on for a minute, then take another clean wipe or cotton bud, and remove any excess moisture.
The soak:
As mentioned above, some piercings can benefit from the occasional warm saline soak, especially in the early stages of the healing time. This generally applies for all piercings, but you will notice the effect the most on body piercings. So, how do you do this?
You will need to fill a small cup with saline solution. If you made your own solution, make sure it is still a bit warm, as that will encourage blood flow to the area and helps get nutrients and oxygen delivered to the wound. Then, hold the cup with the solution onto the piercing and let it soak for about 2 minutes. After this, make sure you dry the area very well, either with a clean paper tissue or a piece of sterile gauze.

How often should you clean your piercings?

This is where everyone is a bit different. For some of us, our body will need a bit more help healing a piercing than for others. However, it is important not to over-clean your piercings, as that can be quite irritating. For most piercings we would recommend that you use saline solution at least once a day, but no more than twice a day. Usually this would be when you get up in the morning, and before you go to bed at night.

If you are ever unsure about how often to clean your piercing, or you feel like one of your piercings isn't healing correctly, feel free to visit any of our stores, and one of our piercers can go through your daily routine and check the healing stage of your piercing, and help you determine the best course of action for you! We want to see your piercings happy and healthy!


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