Last updated 12/14/2020
As humans, we have always come up with ways to adorn ourselves. This is nothing new. We have done this since the beginning of time.
Adornment consist of; our clothing, hair styles, facial hair (men), tattoos and body piercings. Egyptians wore piercings. The oldest mummy found, Otzi the iceman, wore both tattoos and piercings.
Modern day brings so many areas to pierce. Similar with tattoos somewhat, there is a lot to take into consideration. Do your research; there are also risk and the aftercare. Take into account healing time and sacrifices such as sleeping on piercing or contact (in our modern day world) with devices.
Although, piercings are not permanent, you can simply choose to take the piercing out and have it closed. But do you want to spend money and time just to change your mind?
When I was eighteen I went to Claire’s in the mall to have my earlobes pierced. I guess I was a traditionalist or maybe there weren’t as many options as today. I still have one hole in each earlobe. I never had the desire to get more. To each his own.
I suppose I had to verify that I was eighteen. The clerk used a pen to mark the spot and I approved. I chose my birthstone and a stud was placed in with the gun. I was told to clean it with alcohol on a cotton ball twice a day while rotating the stud.
So times have changed. These days Body Piercing is a growing industry. There are now Professional Piercers with their own studios. A course needs to be passed, than an apprenticeship. There may be an exam for a license. Check the guidelines for your state.
What Does the Skin go through When Pierced?
A piercing is creating an opening (body piercing uses a hollow needle) in a body part for the purpose of inserting jewelry.
Our immune system seals off the exterior first to keep the germs out. Then the healing process begins. Our skin forms a fistula (internal tunnel of scar tissue) around the jewelry connecting both ends of the piercing. It takes time to heal internally as well.
What to Expect from your Piercing
As with tattooing you are searching for a professional establishment that practices sanitary conditions and procedures.
Anesthetics are rarely used. Piercing gun is only used for earlobes and it is only used once.
Body piercings are done with an approved hollow thin needle. It is considered cleaner.
The forceps, needle, jewelry and any other equipment must be enclosed in an autoclave bag to ensure sterilization.
A Professional Piercer will wear gloves during your service. Piercer removes contents of autoclave bag, while you are present, and ready to be used. The area to pierce will be cleaned with alcohol. Oral piercing (mouth) antiseptic oral rinse to swish will be given.
The spot is marked with a brand new pen. Is it to your liking? The pen is then tossed in trash after use (only used this one time). Piercer uses clamp to hold (lip) the spot is pierced and jewelry is inserted. You are given instructions for cleaning area.
Healing Process of your Piercing
Crusting (like scabbing) after a piercing is pretty normal, part of healing. This is dead blood cells and plasma that have made their way to the skin surface and when exposed to air they dry out. This should be clear or pale yellow in color.
If there is a dark yellow, green or brown discharge (pus), this could be an infection. Consult with the piercer or your doctor.
Big, red bumps can also be common. This may be a sign of an allergy to nickel. You will need to contact the piercer and change the jewelry to stainless steel, niobium or titanium.
Risks from Piercings
- Swelling with tongue may block airway
- Allergy to the nickel jewelry
- Keloids scarring in some ethnic groups
- Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, tetanus & HIV
- MRSA staph infection if unsanitary conditions
- Bleeding from damaged blood vessels
- Tearing or trauma from jewelry being pulled
- Infection if not cleaned properly or picked at
- Migrate or rejection
Higher risk if diabetic, allergic, eczema or psoriasis, weak immune system.
The most common and can be done on lobe or in the cartilage. Take into account, cartilage takes longer to heal. This may be six months. Cartilage areas have less blood supply to fight off germs, making it more prone to infections.
You may not be aware of all the ear parts.
Earlobe - was the most common. It is fleshy making the area easier to pierce. It also heals quicker.
Helix & Helix Orbital – upper ear cartilage, the rim forming a “C”.
Conch & Conch Orbital – large opening and probably the area with cartilage having the most risk. It can be damaged and become infected. Be careful with this decision, it could be disfiguring. (Insider article).
Conch can take nine months to heal. Avoid wearing ear buds during the healing process.
Daith – cartilage, area thicker and curved, on the most inner fold. Some evidence that these may help with anxiety and migraines. Usually hoop earring placed.
Rook – highest fold of cartilage, under the Helix. Unusual piercing. A bar or hoop is placed. Healing 6-9 months.
Tragus & Anti-Tragus - thick fleshy cartilage, that helps to protect and cover the ear opening. Somewhat new, starting around 1980s (Celebrities with Tragus).
Snug/Anti-Helix – Vertical inner ridge of cartilage.
These can be done on surface in skin or through to mouth (oral piercing) and also the nasal passage. Some schools and jobs don’t allow facial piercings. You will need to inquire.
Erl/Bridge – across bridge of nose (cartilage) using horizontal bar. Thought of as surface piercing because of lack of flesh here. It has a high risk of moving and being rejected. Piercing should be short so no interference with any type of glasses.
Healing time around 8-12 weeks. Could be more for inner tissue to heal.
Dimple/Cheek – Going through to inside of mouth.
Monroe (after her beauty mark) AKA Madonna – Through upper lip into mouth.
Septum – The soft tissue (skin) separating nostrils. Another unusual area. Healing takes about 3 months.
Labrets & Lowbrets – A lip piercing, lower center area through to mouth. Be careful with bumping it. Heals about 3-6 months.
We use our mouth all day (talking, eating) this may be a challenge. Be patient.
The mouth harbors a lot of bacteria. Possibility for infection is high. Both inside and out must be kept clean.
Nostril – Currently, these are very popular. This is soft cartilage on outside of nose or the dimple. Your anatomy makes a difference.
Like our mouth the nose contains germs and bacteria always present that can make a difficult healing process (blowing). Keep up with cleaning inside and out of piercing to avoid infection. Getting makeup in can cause a problem.
Medusa/Philtrum - A very delicate area between indented upper lip and nose. Expect some swelling. Heals 6-12 weeks.
Eyebrows – Do research and think before getting pierced. Scars may occur. Can be horizontal versus vertical. Surface piercing. This can migrate or be rejected. This piercing can be complex. Heals about 6 weeks.
These usually heal quickly but there are a lot of germs and bacteria present here. Oral piercings can be painful. If you’re not a smoker (bad for skin and healing) about 4 weeks.
Tongue – painful piercing with all those nerve endings. Take into consideration (taste, feel, biting down) this is in your mouth. It can interfere with a lot including your speech. Your oral health is important with this piercing. Needs to be properly placed.
If the tongue swells, this can block your airway causing difficulty with breathing.
The biggest risk is permanent damage to your teeth due to chipping and biting down.
Tongue Web/Frenulum - That thin strip of connective tissue when you lift up your tongue.
Frowny – thin connective tissue inside bottom lip.
Smiley/Scrumper – Through thin connective tissue above upper lip, could be painful.
These other areas could be more or less healing time and the risk of being rejected or migrating.
Navel/Belly Button – Requires a lot of aftercare because it contains a lot of germs.
Nipples – (M/F) popular during Victorian era with Parisians due to style of dresses. Today this piercing is considered most erotic. There is 6-8 weeks minimum healing.
Are you active? Healing could be longer. This can close quickly so be prepared when changing jewelry. To re-pierce would be through scar tissue, more challenging and added risk.
Sternum/Cleavage – the breastbone close to skin surface. This can often result with an infection or rejection all together. Heals about 1-3 months.
Aftercare for your Piercing
It is recommended to clean new piercings twice a day with sterile saline solution (alcohol dries skin) first 2-3 months. Special instructions may be given according to piercing.
Do you have any piercings, if so where?
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The listing or mention of an organization, website or product is not meant as an endorsement or promotional purposes of any kind but simply to educate and pass on information.
This website is for informational purposes and not for diagnosis.
If you have a health condition or concern, please consult your doctor.
https://www.byrdie.com/body-piercings-guide-4078450 accessed 07/26/2020
https://www.insider.com/what-is-conch-removal-ear-surgery-risks-2019-4 accessed 07/26/2020
https://www.healthline.com/health/body-modification/daith-piercing-pain accessed 07/26/2020
https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care-tattoos-piercings#safety-precautions accessed 07/26/2020