Torn Piercings, Bites, and Bruises
I heard about this guy who got his tongue piercing caught on his girlfriend’s clit hood piercing…
Pardon us while we cringe.
And thank you for giving us the opportunity to talk a little bit about the care and feeding of piercings, particularly sexual (nipple and genital) piercings.
Although your friend’s experience is, um, unusual, piercings do get caught on things—often hair and zippers. If this happens to you, try to avoid putting stretching-type pressure on the piercing. It may be a good idea to recruit a sympathetic friend to help untangle matters. A pair of scissors (many pocket knives contain small ones) can help too.
But if it’s too late, and the piercing is already torn, treat it the same way that you would a bite wound (see below).
Next, you’ll have to decide whether to take the piercing out or to leave it in during the healing process. Piercers will often tell you to leave the piercing in, but we think that’s usually an error: we’d vote for taking it out. You can always re-pierce later, and wounds with foreign bodies in them don’t heal as quickly as they should and are more likely to get infected.
In general, we find that piercers are extremely good at piercing and less good at dealing with complications afterwards. If your piercing gets torn or infected, please see a doctor.
I thought it was a love bite, but I guess I bit down a little harder than I intended…
We recognize that some people—well, us, actually—get really turned on by biting or being bitten. Skin is pretty durable, so go for it. But be careful… infected human bites are not pretty.
If you haven’t broken the skin, treat it like any other bruise (see below). If you’ve bitten so deeply that there’s a lot of blood, apply a clean pressure bandage (a folded towel will do fine) for several minutes. If the wound is gaping open, it will need stitches, and a trip to the emergency room is called for; likewise if you suspect any injury to underlying tendon, muscles, or bones. If there’s spurting blood, or the bite-ee feels faint, call 911. If the bite-er feels faint, s/he should sit down, head between the legs, and listen to a brief but heartfelt lecture about controlling one’s aggressive impulses.
In most cases, though, a through-the-skin bite wound needs treatment mostly to prevent infection. Start by running it under water for a couple of minutes, and then wash it thoroughly with soap (antibacterial if you have it) and water. Apply an antiseptic cream if you have any, and bandage it. And, um, you do have a current tetanus booster, don’t you? (If you don’t, get one—you should have one every ten years.)
Human bites are likelier than most wounds to be sources of infection. See a doc for antibiotics if the bite is relatively severe, if it’s on your hand, face, or genitals (ow!), or if you’re diabetic or immunocompromised. And if you see any pus, redness, or swelling around the wound, or any red streaks leading away from it, see a doctor right away.
The biter (and possibly the bite-ee, if the biter has open mouth sores or bleeding gums) will also need to deal with exposure to a partner’s blood. Blood can carry some viruses and bacteria that can spread a variety of diseases, and you’ll want to protect yourself against those as best you can. If you have blood on you, use a cloth dipped in hydrogen peroxide (the first-aid kind, not the hair-bleaching kind) to clean it off. The peroxide will foam up, but that’s nothing to worry about. If there’s blood in your mouth, you can also rinse your mouth out and gargle with a solution of half-and-half peroxide and water (ewwww, but it works—don’t swallow any, though). If the blood didn’t come in contact with open sores on your skin or in your mouth, you’re almost certainly fine. If you’re still worried, visit a doc or STD clinic the next day, and bring a medical history from your partner. They’ll help you decide whether you should be tested and/or given medication to help prevent infection.
Well, the spanking was fun. But now there’s this big swollen black-and-blue bruise that’s really scary-looking...
Is the bruise interfering with the way you use the muscle? (Not being able to sit down comfortably doesn’t count—we think you probably expected that.) If you can use the muscle, the bruise will fade on its own. Avoid aspirin and other NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories—ibuprofen, naprosyn, etc.) while it heals.
Conventional wisdom has it that you ice the bruise (20 minutes every two hours) for the first 24 hours, then apply heat. We think your body knows best, so if ice feels better than heat or vice versa, go for it.
Some people also swear by bruise plasters from the Asian herbalist’s, or arnica from the health food store, to speed healing, but the author with all the letters after his name isn’t too impressed by that sort of thing. Still, they’re harmless, and they might help. If you really need to get it healed up right away, ultrasound treatment from a physical therapist may help.
If the bruise is interfering with the way you use the muscle, you might have done more damage than you think. It’s not an emergency, but get it looked at within the next day or so.