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How Long Do You Need to Let a Belly Button Ring Heal Before Swimming?

author image Marcy Brinkley
Marcy Brinkley has been writing professionally since 2007. Her work has appeared in "Chicken Soup for the Soul," "Texas Health Law Reporter" and the "State Bar of Texas Health Law Section Report." Her degrees include a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; a Master of Business Administration; and a Doctor of Jurisprudence.
How Long Do You Need to Let a Belly Button Ring Heal Before Swimming?
Swimming too soon after a new navel piercing can lead to infection. Photo Credit gailpalethorpe/iStock/Getty Images

The swimming pool might be a great place to show off your new belly button ring, but don't jump in the water until your piercing heals. Even chemically-treated water can harbor germs that cause infections in open wounds. While healing is typically complete within 9 months, it can take up to a year for a belly button ring site -- or navel piercing -- to heal. If you notice drainage, redness or swelling at the piercing site, contact your healthcare provider as you may need antibiotics to clear up the infection.

Healing Issues

A belly button piercing typically takes longer to completely heal than a piercing in any other part of your body. And if your body piercer uses inappropriate initial jewelry or misjudges the size of the ring needed for your body, the risk of irritation and infection increases. You can help the healing process by keeping the piercing site clean, dry and protected. Washing your hands before touching the belly button area and following the piercer's instructions about cleaning the site -- typically with dilute saltwater or soap and water -- can help prevent infection. Wearing loose clothing can prevent the ring from catching on your clothing and possibly reopening the wound.

Risks With Swimming

Going swimming before your navel piercing heals increases the risk for infection. No matter how clean the water might look, bacteria and other germs might be present that can infect the piercing site. If you must swim before your navel piercing has fully healed, consider protecting the area with a waterproof dressing that makes a tight seal over the skin. When you finish swimming, you should remove the dressing, clean the area and dry it thoroughly. If you usually swim only in the summer, you might consider scheduling your piercing for early September to allow the site plenty of time to heal.

Reviewed by: Tina M. St. John, M.D.

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