Body piercings and tattoos have become an increasingly popular form of self-expression. As people became more open to the idea of these forms of body art, the establishment of piercing and tattoo shops have increased. If you are thinking of getting a body piercing, here are some tips on what to expect, how to care for your piercings, finding good piercing shops near you, and other facts that you should consider.
Reasons to get a body piercing
Body piercing has been practised since ancient times. It is part of the tradition and heritage of some cultures. One of the earliest records of piercings is found in the Bible when Isaac gave his wife-to-be Rebekah a gold earring. Translation from Hebrew of the original text of the story suggests that Isaac presented Rebekah with a nose ring. Meanwhile, tongue piercing was a common practise among the Aztecs and Mayans of Central America. Earrings can be traced as far back as 5000 years ago. In 1991, the world’s oldest mummy, which had ear piercings as large as 7 to 11 mm, was discovered in an Austrian glacier.
While earrings have become fashionable and totally acceptable over the centuries, piercings in other parts of the body have been considered taboo. Despite this, body piercings have become increasingly popular in modern times, and the sites of piercings have also become more diverse and surprising. Most people who choose to have piercings want it as a form of self-expression. Some simply like the way they look with piercings or they just want to be part of pop culture. Meanwhile, some people with piercings in unlikely parts of the body just want to address their fetishes. Secretly, these piercings could be part of satisfying a sexual desire.
Whatever your reasons for getting a piercing may be, just make sure that you get it from a safe and hygienic piercing shop. Complications could arise from improperly performed piercings that is why you have to do research and ask a lot of questions before you undergo the piercing procedure.
Things to consider before getting a body piercing
An article published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology revealed that the most common problem that arises when you get a body piercing is infections. These dermatologists have observed that up to 20% of piercings get infected at some point. Aside from this, there are other complications that could arise at the site of the piercing such as skin tearing, scarring or bleeding. The person could also suffer from an allergic reaction.
With these discomforts and health risks, it is better to know what you are getting into before walking into the nearest body piercing shop. Here are the things that you should expect and consider.
Find out your medical condition and any risk of infection. Recall situations wherein you got a wound. Did you heal fast enough? Did it easily get infected? Smoking, advanced age, and being overweight increase the risk for infection as well as diseases or medical problems and generally having a weak immune system. If you have diabetes, it is best not to pursue with a body piercing. There is a high risk for the site to get an infection and be delayed in healing, and things could complicate from there.
Find out your pain threshold.One thing is for sure: you will feel pain when you get a piercing. Depending on the location that you choose, pain would be amplified even more in some areas compared to others. Different people have different levels of pain tolerance, but here are the top sites where a piercing will hurt the most:
*Nipples. The nipple area has a lot of nerves that make it very sensitive. The piercing in this area could heal slowly because of the clothes that you need to wear. It will be frequently disturbed and can be irritated.
*Genitals. The genital area is also very sensitive. For women, piercings in the clitoris register the highest in the pain scale, while Apadravya and Ampaliang are the most painful for men since the piercings have to go deep into the tissues.
*Corset piercings is a group of piercings located at the back and are positioned so that they can be laced up into a corset.
If this is still your first time and you just want to know if you look good with piercings, you can try having you eyebrows or navel pierced aside from the ears. Piercings in these sites generally rate low in the pain scale, but make sure that you apply proper aftercare procedures to prevent infections.
Does a piercing fit your lifestyle? Even if you don’t want to admit it, you should factor in your lifestyle when you want to get a piercing in the exposed parts of your body. Earrings have always been considered normal and fashionable, but piercings through your eyebrows or nostrils are less accepted by society. If you are still young, it would be cool to have these facial piercings, but it might be awkward if you’re older. Also, if you’re already working, you have to consider your work environment. Does your company tolerate tattoos and piercings, or are they specifically not allowed in your company dress code? Do you lead an active lifestyle? Do you play sports? Is there no danger of touching, irritating or hurting the pierced body part? Will you be able to breastfeed your child with your nipple piercing? Is your sexual partner comfortable with the piercing in your genitals?
Is your body fit for a piercing? Some people will have body parts that are “not suitable” for certain types of piercings. For example, if your belly button has a ridge it can easily accommodate a piercing; otherwise, it will be more painful and will have higher risk of getting infected. The same is true for people with a short fold under the tongue; tongue piercings may be more uncomfortable. If your skin likely forms keloids when you get a wound, you might want to reconsider having a piercing.
It would also be helpful if you prepare to give your medical information to the piercing professional before the start of the procedure. Be open about any diseases (such as diabetes) and allergies to medicines or to jewelry so that the professional can help you properly prepare before the procedure.
Find out how the procedure will be done. Do research about how the piercing shop will perform the procedure. Make sure that they don’t use a piercing gun as this is difficult to clean and sanitize and could cause trauma to the skin. Piercing guns will make the procedure more painful than it is. Also make sure that you are not allergic to the jewelry and prepping products that will be used. Make sure that the procedure will be performed by a fully trained and truly reliable piercing professional. Make sure that the tools used are well-sanitized and well-sterilized.
What to expect during the procedure
Here’s a list of the things that are most likely going to happen when you go to a piercing professional for the procedure:
(1) Preparation of the site
The piercer will clean the area to be pierced usually with the use of an antibacterial soap or alcohol. Inform the piercer if you feel any reaction (itchiness or tingling sensation) to the materials used for prepping so that any complications can be avoided.
(2) Marking of the site
This is a painless procedure that involves the piercer identifying the placement of the jewelry. Depending on the body part to be pierced, your skin may be pulled or stretched, and you could feel a little discomfort.
(3) Actual piercing
This is where you will start feeling the pain. In order to line up the skin and the markings, the piercer will be using forceps to hold the skin in a pinching motion and insert it into a receiving tube to create the hole. A well-trained and highly experienced piercer will be able to perform this procedure quickly and with less pain. Pain level will differ between body parts, and tolerance will differ from person to person.
(4) Attachment of jewelry
If the jewelry is bigger than the needle used to pierce the skin, be ready for another shot of pain. This usually happens with inexperienced piercers.
How long will the piercing heal?
Generally, it will take about six to eight weeks for the wound to heal. Within this period, if the piercing is properly cared for (cleaned and not aggressively touched), a new layer of skin should close up the area along the jewelry. However, it would take about six months to one year for the wound to completely heal, that is there will no longer be any risk for the hole to close up. Prematurely removing the jewelry or frequently disturbing it will slow down the healing process and could even lead to infections.
You can build your own piercing kit easily. This site should give you a good idea of the tools you need is you want to start in the piercing industry.
How to care for your piercing
There are two general rules in caring for your piercing: (1) keep it clean at all times and (2) don’t disturb it if possible.
It is really simple to care for your piercing if you just stick to these two rules. This means that personal hygiene, especially around the area of the piercing, is of topmost importance. Do not touch the site with dirty hands. Clean the area regularly with antibacterial soap and water. Saline solutions are also helpful, but avoid rubbing alcohol as it might dry out your skin. Be conscious of what you wear; make sure that it won’t disturb the piercing. If possible, wear loose outfits for your body piercings, and avoid anything tight around the waist if you have a piercing in your navel. Also don’t wear thick belts with big buckles that could get entangled with the jewelry in your belly button. Keep your clothes clean and fresh. Sweat and dirt will irritate your piercings. Keep pierced areas ventilated during your personal time when possible.
Avoid getting foreign objects in contact with your piercings. This means you have to stay away from swimming and bath tubs, kissing or sex during the healing period. For piercings on or around your face, prevent it from getting into contact with powder or makeup.
For oral piercings, observe good oral hygiene by rinsing your mouth with a non-alcoholic mouthwash after every meal or snack. If you can, hold off on smoking for the time being as it will slow down the healing process. Always drink water and rinse off your mouth if you do smoke.
Possible problems that you may encounter with your piercing
Aside from the site getting infected, there are other complications that may arise because of your body piercing. Before going to a piercing shop near you, consider these problems and think of ways to go around them or prevent them.
- Scarring caused by skin tears. This could possibly lead to keloids.
- Allergies caused by jewelry. Make sure that you use hypoallergenic jewelry such as surgical stainless steel, titanium, gold, niobium or platinum.
- Difficulty in eating if you have an oral piercing. It could also cause cracking of the lips or chipping of the teeth as well as bad breath and gum problems especially if the wound is not properly managed and cared for during the healing period. The discomfort from the piercing could cause you to lose your appetite and may even lead to weight loss in some. There is also the risk of unintentionally swallowing the jewelry.
- Interfering with your sexual pleasure. Some may claim that piercings in the genital area heighten the sensation during sex, but it could actually affect a man’s erection. Also, the jewelry could get tangled with a condom and cause it to tear increasing the chances of pregnancy.
- Possibility of contracting disease. If the procedure was not performed properly and the tools and equipment used were not properly sterilized, you can contract blood infection, Hepatitis or even HIV.
Before rushing to a piercing shop near you, take into consideration all the tips listed above regarding possible complications, pain, and management of a body piercing especially in the more sensitive areas of the body. Make sure that you are ready and responsible to take care of your body piercing.