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

Strutting her Stuff
A woman is walking in the water, with a pierced belly button. (Image: 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. People heal at different rates. While healing is typically complete within 9 months, it can take up to a year for a belly button ring site to heal. If you notice drainage, redness or swelling at the piercing site, contact your health care provider as you may need antibiotics to clear up the infection.

Healing Issues

A belly button piercing takes longer to heal than a piercing in any other part of your body. And if the piercer uses cheap 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, though, 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 either with dilute saltwater or soap and water -- can help to prevent infection. Wearing loose clothing can prevent the ring from catching on your clothing and reopening the wound.

Risks With Swimming

Going swimming before your belly button piercing heals increases the risk of infection. No matter how clean the water might look, bacteria and other organisms can enter the wound. If you must swim before the site 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 then dry it thoroughly. If you usually swim only in the summer, you might also consider scheduling your piercing in early September to allow the site plenty of time to heal.

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