Emu Oil

From The Piercing Bible        

For the care of healing and troubled piercings, emu oil has proved itself superior to all the other products I’ve advocated throughout my career. Yes, emu, as in the big flightless bird. Aboriginal people in Australia have used emu oil on wounds for centuries. Today it is used by massage therapists, dermatologists, other medical practitioners, and piercers, for its anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, and wound-healing properties. I believe emu oil is safe and effective enough that it could become the norm for post-piercing care, at least among non-vegetarians. I know I’ve advised against miracle products, but if there is such a thing, in my opinion, emu oil is it.

Emu oil is safe even for use inside the mouth, and no, it doesn’t taste like dead bird, or like anything at all. A natural food by-product, high-quality emu oil is odorless and tasteless. It is considered hypoallergenic, and I haven’t witnessed any negative responses to it. No adverse reactions or toxicity have been reported in the scientific literature.1 Laboratory studies show that emu oil has anti-inflammatory properties2, and in its pure state, emu oil is bacteriostatic (restricts the growth and activity of microorganisms).3

Emu oil is high in essential fatty acids and keeps your skin moisturized. This establishes favorable conditions: healing is three to five times faster and less painful in a moist environment. Pure emu oil does not clog pores, and it does not prevent air circulation like petroleum-based products. The emollients help keep secretions from drying and adhering to the skin or jewelry, which cuts down on crusting, trauma, and discomfort. Even though it is called “oil,” it is more like a lotion. It rubs in well and does not leave a greasy residue. Emu oil feels extremely soothing the instant you put it on. These pleasant attributes help to encourage regular applications.

The emu oil I used for many years can be purchased below, and your order will be filled by Desert Palms Emu Ranch; they do ship internationally.

• Update July 2015: Since the beginning of this year I have been eating a vegan diet, and emu oil was the very last animal product I used--and the most difficult to give up by far. I began to live a fully vegan lifestyle this June. Quitting emu oil was way harder than letting go of anything dietary; even more difficult than giving up cheese! I haven't found a plant-based product that comes remotely close to replacing emu oil, but I'm sill looking.... For those who don't mind using an animal product, I have to say that emu oil really is fantastic for use on piercings and other wounds, skin irritation, bug bites or stings, dryness, and more.

Choose Size

Emu oil is also economical because you apply only a tiny dab. It is easy to use:

1. Shake the bottle.
2. Two to three times daily, rub a single drop onto the piercing with a clean or 
gloved finger.

You can use it in conjunction with saline soaks, though many piercees have had excellent results healing with emu oil as the sole care product. Studies have shown that emu oil penetrates the skin, which resolves any debate over rotating the jewelry.

I also suggest applications of emu oil on the tissue of any piercing that is being stretched. Research has shown it can thicken skin, so it may be especially helpful for thinning tissue.4

Different manufacturers produce emu oils of varying qualities, and it may not perform equally well in all climates. I once tried an inferior brand that did smell and taste like a big, dead bird. Use only certified fully refined oil on piercings. The idea of suggesting oil for piercings seemed appalling after years of preaching against the use of ointment. All I can say is, “This is different!” 

Emu oil is also wonderful for healing tattoos and other wounds including scrapes, cuts, burns, and bug bites. (Just don't put it on poison oak or poison ivy.) I loathe hard-sell tactics, but I am genuinely a huge fan of this product and a believer in its properties. Because I feel passionate about it, I'm excited to turn other people onto it as well.

Information on piercing cleaning and care is here.

Detailed information on saline soaks (which are also great for healing or irritated piercings) is here.

Feedback about emu oil from a piercee:

"I just wanted to tell you that I recently purchased emu oil and I can't thank you enough. I have always had some trouble with piercings healing correctly. I was at a loss with my left cheek piercing because it had been having troubles for years despite my right one healing perfectly and comfortably with no leaking, unnecessary swelling, or infection. I bought the oil after losing hope with salt soaks. I put this stuff on and it immediately soothed my cheek, after a day and a half the swelling started to lessen. I used it for my high nostrils, my stretched septum, and my navel after that. They are all doing great. You're my hero, thank you so much."

#1 Drugsite Trust, “Emu Oil,” Drug Information Online, www.drugs.com/npp/emu-oil .html (accessed October 15, 2007).

#2 M. W. Whitehouse et al., “Emu Oil(s): A Source of Non-Toxic Anti-Inflammatory Agents in Aboriginal Medicine,” Inflammopharmacology 6, no. 1 (March 1998): 1–8, www.springerlink.com/content/3830n157u2145526/ (accessed April 9, 2007).

#3 Serena DuBois, “Emu Oil: The Undiscovered Secret,” Explore 8, no. 1 (1997), www.explorepub.com/articles/emu.html (accessed November 4, 2007).

#4 Ibid. (Same as #3)