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What happens if you take out a fresh piercing?

Getting a new piercing can be an exciting experience. However, once you have the piercing, you need to take proper care of it for the initial healing process. This means leaving the piercing in place and not changing jewelry until the piercing has fully healed. So what happens if you take out a fresh, unhealed piercing?

Pain and Bleeding

Taking out a fresh piercing before it has fully healed will likely cause some pain and bleeding. When you first get a piercing, the needle creates an open wound in your skin. This wound needs time to close up and heal. If you remove the jewelry too soon, it will reopen the puncture site and cause bleeding.

There may be some blood the first time you change your jewelry once healed. But removing jewelry from an unhealed piercing will likely cause more noticeable bleeding and potentially be very painful. The pain is from the jewelry dragging through the raw piercing site.

Infection Risk

An unhealed piercing is prone to infection. When you first get a piercing, the puncture site is an open wound vulnerable to bacteria. The jewelry helps keep the wound protected. Taking out a fresh piercing leaves the wound open to microbes that can enter and cause an infection.

Signs of an infected piercing include redness, swelling, pus, tenderness, and a foul odor. If you remove jewelry from an unhealed piercing, you risk exposing it to bacteria and developing an infection. Infections require antibiotic treatment to clear up.

Delayed Healing

Removing and reinserting jewelry into a fresh piercing too soon will also delay the healing process. It takes anywhere from 6-12 weeks for a standard earlobe piercing to heal. More complicated cartilage or oral piercings can take 3-6 months to fully heal.

During the healing period, the jewelry should be kept in place as much as possible. Taking it out and putting it back resets the healing timeline. Even replacing the original jewelry with new jewelry too soon can irritate the piercing and delay healing.

Piercing Closure

Taking out an unhealed piercing also runs the risk of the puncture site closing up. Piercings start to shrink and close within minutes after the initial jewelry insertion. The longer jewelry stays out of a fresh wound, the more likely it is to close.

If you leave jewelry out of an unhealed piercing for too long, the hole may seal up completely and require repiercing. Even several hours can be enough time for closure to start happening. Quickly reinserting jewelry into a partially closed piercing can also damage and tear the skin.


Repeated jewelry removal and reinsertion into an unhealed piercing may lead to scarring. The trauma of jewelry dragging through raw skin before it has properly closed up can cause scar tissue to form. It also increases the chances of infection, which can result in scars.

Taking your time and allowing piercings to fully heal before changing jewelry minimizes scarring. Never force jewelry through a piercing that has started to close up. See your piercer for help reinserting jewelry into partly closed piercings to avoid trauma and scarring.

Losing Your Piercing

If you leave jewelry out of an unhealed piercing for an extended period, the hole may close and heal entirely. Unfortunately, this means you’ll completely lose the piercing if it wasn’t given adequate time to stabilize.

Cartilage piercings, oral piercings, and some genital piercings are especially prone to permanent closure if jewelry is removed too soon. To avoid losing a piercing, follow your piercer’s aftercare instructions carefully and don’t change jewelry until fully healed.

Risk Mitigation Tips

While it’s best to leave new piercings alone to heal, sometimes taking out jewelry becomes necessary. Here are some tips to minimize problems if you must remove jewelry from an unhealed piercing:

  • Clean the piercing site and hands thoroughly before removing jewelry to avoid introduce bacteria.
  • Be very gentle when removing and reinserting jewelry to minimize trauma.
  • Use a clean paper towel to absorb any blood from the reopened piercing wound.
  • Apply a sterile saline wound wash spray to help disinfect the area.
  • Only leave jewelry out for a few minutes before gently reinserting it.
  • Avoid removing jewelry from unhealed oral or genital piercings as closure risk is high.
  • See your piercer for help if a piercing starts closing with jewelry out.
  • Watch for signs of infection after and see a doctor at the first symptom.

With proper care and cleaning, a short jewelry change may not disturb the healing process too much. But repeated removals or leaving new piercings empty for too long can lead to serious complications.


Removing jewelry before a piercing has fully healed almost always leads to problems. It will be painful, likely bleed, raise infection risk, delay healing, and may cause the piercing to close up. It’s best to follow your piercer’s aftercare instructions and avoid changing jewelry in unhealed piercings.

If jewelry must be removed from a fresh, unhealed piercing, do so very carefully for just a few minutes and reinsert it gently. Never force jewelry through partially closed piercings. Allow 6-12 weeks for basic piercings to stabilize before changing jewelry to avoid complications.

With proper initial aftercare and leaving piercings alone to heal, you can enjoy problem-free, fully healed piercings for years to come.

Piercing Location Average Healing Time
Ear lobes 6-8 weeks
Cartilage 3-12 months
Nose 2-4 months
Lip 6-8 weeks
Tongue 4-6 weeks
Navel 6-9 months
Genitals 2-6 months

Signs of Infection

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pus drainage
  • Tenderness
  • Hot to the touch
  • Fever
  • Foul odor

Proper Aftercare Steps

  1. Wash hands before touching piercings
  2. Use sterile saline spray or soak 2-3 times daily
  3. Rinse piercings in the shower
  4. Avoid touching, turning or playing with jewelry
  5. Wear clean, breathable clothing
  6. Keep hair products, cosmetics away from new piercings
  7. Avoid swimming, sharing towels or bedding during healing
  8. Sleep with a clean towel over pillowcases
  9. Avoid excess alcohol and smoking during healing period