Surviving travel with piercings

How to survive your holiday trip, festival, flight or similar… when pierced.

During summer – or any other season, the focus is on climate here, I’ll explain read on – there are a few factors in play regarding your piercings’ health.

  • Heat
  • Sweat
  • Dust, sand, the great outdoors
  • Camping
  • Foreign environment
  • Accidents
  • Summer love
  • Climate change, climate difference
  • Flying, airplane travels
  • Water, beach, swimming pool etc
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • UV-rays

I’ll take these apart one by one to ensure you of the best possible holiday experience.


Heat and sun can dehydrate you without you even noticing. On top of this you can get sunburned easily and of course this is also less than ideal for your piercing whether it’s healed yet.

Make sure to drink plenty of water. It’s important for your piercing’s health because if you’re dehydrated your organs are your body’s priority of care. And this could mean your piercing gets irritated if that’s the case. So, make sure you drink enough so this doesn’t have to happen.

On top of this, the weather can get stuffy which can also cause irritation for your piercing. Make sure the wound can breathe. If you’re wearing clothing over your piercing, make sure it’s not sitting too tight on top of it. Make sure your clothing is breathable too. Wear preferably natural fibres like cotton or linen. Rinse your piercing with lukewarm water or cold water but don’t forget to dry it too.

If you get sunburned, your body spends energy in your skin, to heal it back up. This is energy your body won’t be able to spend on healing your potentially fresh or irritated piercing. Make sure to protect your piercing from the sun too by keeping it in the shadow. Don’t us sunscreen on a healing piercing but make sure to protect the rest of your body though.

Wear natural fibres. Synthetic fibres can harbour bacteria more easily. Check your clothing’s label.

Also, of course, make sure to wear clean clothes and avoid friction between your clothes and the piercing.


Sweat contains bacteria. In fact, the odour of sweat is caused by those bacteria. This is a mixture of resident and transient bacteria.

The transient bacteria are the ones you want to look out for. Rinse your piercing a couple extra times with water. It’s refreshing for you and cleaning for your piercing.

Dust, sand, the great outdoors:

While on holiday you’ll probably go to the beach or a lake or take a hike through the countryside… Dust is something that may irritate your piercing. The smallest dust particles could stick to your skin and harbour bacteria. Make sure to rinse your piercing with clean or bottled water when you’re going on a bathroom break for example. And of course, leave it alone after that. Dry your piercing preferably with disposable paper towels, sterile gauze or a clean towel at the very least. Don’t use Q-tips or cotton pads nor tissues or toilet paper. These could leave invisible little fibres that are just as harmful as dust particles.

Don’t go swimming if your piercing hasn’t fully healed yet or is irritated!

Nor in the sea. Salt water is good for you but sea water may contain flesh eating bacteria so please don’t risk it.


If you’re going camping, chances are you won’t have some things on hand that may be needed for your piercing’s wellbeing.

Make sure to pack the following:

  • A bottle of clean water specifically for your piercing. The bottle must be a clean one too.
  • A can of sterile saline spray just in case you notice some (mild) irritation. Saline is always good for you. Make sure to rinse afterwards though.
  • Clean sheets of paper towels to dry your piercing.
  • Maybe a couple clean spare pieces of piercing jewellery. Just in case you lose something and can’t locate a reputable piercer in the area you’re staying. Pack some alcohol wipes too to disinfect those with in case you drop something on the floor.
  • A bottle of hand disinfectant. You can get these at most outdoor stores. This is for when you must clean your hands but don’t have water and soap within your reach. This way you can at least disinfect your hands with that.
  • Make sure your sleeping bag is clean. You will sleep on it and it will meet your piercing so make sure to have it cleaned before you leave.

Foreign environment:

If anything goes wrong with your piercing or you experience discomfort, make sure you packed things to temporarily solve the issue. Check the points on “Camping” for a complete list.

Make sure you know the tap water quality were you are. Some areas have hard water, others have soft water running from the faucet. This can influence your aftercare a great deal when you rinse your piercing with it. Or simply pack bottled water for your piercing just to be sure that’s safe to use.

Accidents happen:

You’re partying, or skydiving… You bump against something, or your quad-bike’s helmet sits too tight or hasn’t been properly cleaned by the rental company… This could all cause issues on your piercing. Make sure to have your sterile saline spray on hand to minimize damage.

If you lose a piece of jewellery or an end for it, that can be a problem.

Make sure to pack some spare parts just in case. If you lose an end you could of course always use a piece of band-aid tape or plaster to hold the post in place. Just make sure to have clean hands to do that with!


Mind bacteria and friction! Better safe than sorry. Protect yourself with a condom in case of genital piercings and keep the piercing clean.

Rinse it once more and use your saline before and after contact (a.k.a. intercourse).

Bring some mouthwash in case of oral piercings. Sometimes you won’t notice irritation right away so rinsing with mouthwash after brushing your teeth is always a good idea.

Climate difference:

Changes in your surrounding climate can also influence your immune system and thus your piercing’s health.

You may not notice these changes on healed piercing, perhaps a bit of itchiness but that’s all. But when your piercing is irritated or not fully healed yet, this certainly can play a role in your comfort.


When travelling by plane you’ll probably notice some things going on with your piercing.

The cabin pressure is different from the normal air pressure on the ground. The climate in an airplane is also different from the natural climate back on earth. The air is dry, which causes much more static electricity. This can cause your piercing to become itchy. You probably won’t notice this right away, but watch your hands going back and forth to your ear piercing, just to slightly touch them and you’ll see. This slight touching may cause irritation on the long run.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be problematic though. Just make sure to leave your piercings alone and it will subside after a few days.

You probably will only notice this once landed. This is because of the flight but also because of the difference of climate between where you’ve travelled from and where you are now. When you’ve travelled from a colder climate to a warmer (maybe even more humid) one for example. Such a simple change has more influence on your body and immune system than you may know or notice. Your body’s temperature needs to stay stable, stabilising it costs some energy from your body when the climate suddenly is different on the outside of your body. This may influence your immune system.

Drink lots of water, make sure to sleep enough and eat your veggies! Bananas and avocados are very good for your liver and support a healthy immune system and will help everything to get back to normal.

Regarding your piercing? Saline your piercing once or twice daily and leave it be. Rest and hygiene will work wonders.

Water, beach, swimming:

Swimming may be hazardous for your piercing if it’s not fully healed or irritated. Once fully healed there’s little to fear. Just make sure to rinse everything after swimming. If your piercing is irritated or hasn’t healed yet, please please please don’t go swimming.


Sunscreen lotions or spray tan even… cosmetics are rarely good for your piercing. Components of these products may irritate the wound. Avoid any contact with cosmetics. And if it still happened accidentally, rinse abundantly.


These are bad for your skin no matter how you look at it. These cause sunburn. That’s why you stay in the shadows and/or use sunscreen. But these are also harmful to your piercing and its scar. Cool your piercing, drink lots of water and keep your piercing in the shade as much as possible.

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