Navel piercings typically take four to 12 months to fully heal, but if you take proper care of your piercing, you can make the process go more quickly and painlessly. Cleaning and caring for a fresh belly button piercing prevents the irritation and infection that could otherwise slow down the healing process. Incorporate a cleaning regimen into your daily routine, and you'll be showing off a fully healed piercing before you can say "midriff" -- well, maybe not quite that fast.
Underneath Your Clothes
Excited as you may be to show off your latest accessory, you need to cover it up, especially for the first few days. Wear baggy, loose clothing that hangs comfortably and gives your piercing room to breath. It may not feel as flattering as something more form-fitting, but your piercing needs oxygen to heal, and it will become irritated and slow the healing process if it's constantly being rubbed by tight clothes. If you're worried about snagging on your clothes, turn your tummy into a pirate -- a vented eye patch from the pharmacy gives your piercing protection without cutting off its air supply.
A daily saline wash kills bacteria in and around your piercing and keeps it clean, helping the healing process. UC Berkeley's Health Services recommends a solution of 1 teaspoon table salt -- or 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt -- dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water. The best way to do this is to soak your piercing in salt water for 10 minutes, typically by forming a suction seal between your belly and a cup of salt water. Alternatively, gently swab the piercing site with salt water and leave it in place for 10 minutes, then rinse it clean.
Keep your body clean throughout the healing process. While that may sound like common sense, there are certain things you may typically take for granted that you have to carefully monitor when you have a new piercing. For example, take showers instead of baths, as bath water can send bacteria into a piercing. Make sure that your bed linens are fresh and clean, and always scrub your hands with hot water and antibacterial soap before you touch your piercing.
Nothing grinds the healing process to a halt like an infection, so keep a close eye on your piercing while you wait for it to fully heal. Check your piercing daily for any signs of irritation or infection, like swelling or redness. Bear in mind that for the first few days after your piercing, it's normal for a belly button piercing to ooze some discharge -- if it keeps this up for more than a week, though, or you experience other symptoms, consult your piercing studio or a doctor as soon as possible. The solution could be as simple as switching to jewelry made from a different material, which would set your healing process back on track.