Tongue piercings are among some of the most popular piercings to get, but they’re also the trickiest to take care of. That’s because your mouth is teeming with lots of harmful bacteria. Tongue piercings can easily be infected and sometimes need immediate removal.
How long it takes for your tongue piercing to close depends on an array of things. The most crucial factor is the age of the piercing. The longer you’ve had it, the longer it’ll take to close up. That’s the most important indicator. Other variables are the strength of your immune system and how good your oral hygiene is.
Your tongue piercing will close:
- Within a few hours if it’s new
- After days or weeks if you’ve had it for years
- Never, if you’ve stretched it with a large gauge
Healing Process of Tongue Piercings
It’s essential to understand what happens during the healing process and how long it takes. This will help you be able to better predict when your piercing will close. For example, you may feel the hole is healed by week two and assume you can remove the stud or barbell. At this point, however, it’s not recommended that you remove the jewelry at all because it’ll close up very quickly.
A tongue piercing takes about six to eight weeks to heal completely. This varies from person to person, depending on your aftercare routine and your body’s natural healing abilities. Time alone doesn’t determine when your piercing is healed. Your body might naturally heal wounds slowly, so the process could take ten weeks.
It’s not safe to change your jewelry any time before at least six weeks have progressed. Listen to your body, and don’t rush it. It’s tempting to want to switch out that boring stud with a cool barbell. If you remove your tongue piercing too soon, it can close up in a matter of minutes. It can also increase your risk of infection.
Ask your piercer to help you remove your jewelry the first time you do it. When in doubt, see your piercer. They can best advise you on what to do.
Early Healing Phase
The first couple of days after receiving the piercing, your tongue will be sensitive to even the slightest contact. At this stage, you may be tempted to play with the piercing because it’s new and exciting. This will only cause bleeding and inflammation. Fidgeting with your piercing will only transfer more bacteria to the site, increasing your risk for infection. You may also experience a good amount of swelling during this time.
Primary Healing Phase
This is when your body stops viewing your piercing as a wound that needs to be healed. It will begin accepting the foreign object and send different agents to the body. Your body’s natural defense system slows down, and the agents and antibodies sent to the piercing site seek to destroy any bacteria and strengthen the surrounding area.
This is the most critical stage of the healing process. You can touch the piercing, but avoiding regular contact is best. This phase can last several months, so you’ll need to regularly clean the piercing with saline or salt-water.
The best aftercare product I’ve personally used is the After Inked Piercing Aftercare Spray. Not only is it vegan, but it’s also completely alcohol and additive-free. The solution works well on all skin types including sensitive skin, and it comes in a generously-sized mist-spraying bottle for easy application. When using it from the very start of the healing process, the spray helps to decrease healing times and aims to eliminate any lingering pain or soreness.
You may think your piercing has healed because the swelling and irritation has subsided. This doesn’t mean you can remove the jewelry. You need to give your body time to get used to this foreign object being lodged inside of it. If you were to remove your piercing here, it could close up after a few minutes or hours. It’s not advisable that you do this.
Your immune system or natural defense system is almost finished working on this area. The piercing is beginning to toughen up and is no longer at high risk of infection. There might be a clear, thick discharge around the piercing. This is your body moisturizing the area until it’s returned to normalcy.
It’s safe to remove your piercing during this phase, but keep in mind that tongue piercings close very fast. People who’ve had their piercing in for years reported it closing up in a matter of days. For others, it can be about a week or two. The point is: if you don’t want your tongue piercing to close up, try not to leave it out for extended periods.
Will a Tongue Piercing Leave a Mark?
If there are no complications or infections, your piercing should close without leaving and bumps or scarring behind. As long as you regularly maintain the piercing through the healing process, it should be completely fine. The new tissue will be scar tissue, but it will rarely be noticeable.
This only applies to standard tongue piercings pierced with a 14 gauge. Anything wider in diameter, such as an 8 gauge, is more likely to cause scarring. If you’ve been inserting large gauge jewelry that stretches the muscle, you may be left with a permanent hole. It will most likely shrink in size with time but may never close up. This, of course, depends on how long you’ve had it, as well.
Tongue piercing holes are notorious for closing up overnight. The most critical thing to remember is that it’s not advisable to remove your piercing during the first phases of the healing process. If you want to remove or replace the jewelry, go to your piercer for help. Not only will they advise you if you’re ready for a replacement, but they can also help you remove it safely.
Every person’s body is different and heals at a different pace. Your friend may tell you that their hole didn’t close up for weeks, but maybe their body heals more rapidly. What’s most important is that you listen to your body and monitor the situation. The tongue is a muscle, unlike the cartilage of the ear or the flesh of a belly button. It reacts and heals much differently and, often, in a more complicated way.