Archive for Piercing and Aftercare Information
Come see Jenny get her Industrial piercing by James of American Skin Art in Buffalo, NY.
Money Shot at 0:39 and 0:47
What is an Industrial Piercing?
An Industrial piercing is actually two piercings, a helix and anti-helix, connected by a single barbell and is typically pierced at a 14 gauge.
Do I have to wear an industrial barbell or are there other options?
When you get pierced you can go with the traditional industrial barbell or ask your piercer for separate pieces of jewelry to wear until your piercings are healed. The advantage of this is that multiple cartilage piercings tend to stay tender and sensitive for many months and some people find that having the separate pieces puts less pressure on the affected area.
It’s Jenny’s first real piercing and we’re all super excited to see how she does! First James starts by cleaning the area and then marking both points where each end of the industrial bar will go through. He uses his tools to make sure the marks are perfectly straight and aligned. Next he applies a clamp to the first insertion area, then he pushes the needle through. He then moves the clamp to the second area and continues through with the needle still in the first hole, this creates a slight folding of the ear temporarily, once the needle is through both parts of the ear he corks the end of it to prevent any injury. The barbell jewelry is then pushed through, following the needle out of the ear. The ball end is screwed onto the barbell and then the area is cleaned.
It’s common for your ear to feel hot and burny right after you get it pierced and for a few days after. Many people find taking Motrin helps reduce the pain and swelling. An industrial piercing typically takes 3 to 9 months or longer to heal.
Getting your first piercing? Thinking about piercing a new part of your body? Really want something pierced, but too afraid because of what you’ve heard? Let’s turn those nerves into excitement. Take a look at all the really awesome jewelry you’ll be able to wear. Think about how your new piercing will speak to your individuality; your uniqueness. And above all else, don’t let someone else’s words detour you from going after something you really want!
Myth: All piercings hurt.
#TheTruth: Pain is individualized. Every body is different. Not only that, but every part of your body is different. Pinch your ear and then pinch your belly – the pain differs depending where you’re being pierced. There are a few piercings that generally will hurt more than others, but your own pain tolerance as well as your body’s overall sensitivity that day will determine how painful your piercing will be. Obviously piercing a sensitive area of your body (ie. a nipple) is going to hurt a bit. Your piercing professional will do his/her best to make sure you are comfortable. You can trust those guys, they know what they’re doing.
Myth: You’re going to regret it when you’re older.
#TheTruth: How in the world could you possibly know what your future self is going to regret? You can’t. Anyone who tells you this is passing judgement based on their own views, which has nothing to do with who you are, so stop listening to them!
Myth: Intimate piercings are more likely to get infected.
#TheTruth: The only way a piercing is more likely to get infected is if you’re pierced by someone who isn’t credible, or do not carefully follow aftercare instructions. Be honest with your piercer about your body. A professional piercer will warn you if any pre-existing conditions will effect your healing time, and will know if the piercing is safe for you or not.
Myth: If you’re pierced/tattooed, you’ll never get a job.
#TheTruth: Everyone who writes for this blog has a job. There are employers out there who discriminate against pierced and/or tattooed individuals, but that’s changing. In fact, there’s an entire website devoted to this issue called Support Tattoos and Piercings at Work. Apple, Bank of America and All State Insurance are a few corporate companies that allow their employees to have visible tattoos and piercings. Even their CEOs and members of upper management!
Myth: Only [certain types of people] get [certain types of piercings.]
#TheTruth: All types of people get all types of piercings. End of story.
Disclaimer: All points made in this post are directed towards those individuals who are of legal piercing age. If you’re unsure, please visit the Tattooing and Body Piercing section of the NCSL website to verify policies in your state.
Everyone is generally familiar with the classic tongue piercing and lip ring, we’re going to cover a few facial and oral piercings you may not be too familiar with as well as general care and healing information for the aforementioned piercings.
Typically this piercing is placed centrally but can be placed just about anywhere on the tongue. Two piercings placed side by side is often referred to as ‘venom bites’. A traditional tongue piercing is placed where the nerves are primarily for taste and temperature, it is more painful is be pierced towards the tip or edges. Healing time is about 4-8 weeks, during the first week there will be significant swelling and tenderness, drinking cold water especially immediately following the procedure will help with the swelling and soothe the area. You can eat normally but it is advisable to do so slowly and take small bites. Many people find smoothies, shakes, and soups are easiest to start with. Avoid chewing gum, salty, spicy, or very hot foods as these may be injurious or irritating.
The Labret Piercing
A traditionally placed labret is centered under the lower lip, but may be placed higher, lower, in pairs or even multiples. Usually pierced with a 16 or 14 gauge needle, a flat disk-back stud or ring are the most common jewelry worn. Healing time is about 6-8 weeks but may take longer. Cleaning is easiest by using a sea salt soak (1/4 tsp to 8oz water) in a shot glass held flush against the face or a cotton ball/q-tip with the solution on it.
This piercing imitates a beauty mark and is placed off to one side above the upper lip. Also paired with another piercing on the opposite side which is nicknamed ‘angel bites’. Typically done at 16 or 14 gauge this piercing heals in about 2 to 3 months or longer. Aftercare is the same as the labret.
Also commonly knows as the ‘medusa’ this piercing is placed center of the natural divot between the mouth and the nose. It is common that during this piercing the client’s eyes may water. Healing time for this piercing is typically 2 to 3 months and usually at 16 or 14 gauge.
Cheek/ Dimple Piercings
Cheek piercings can be done in most locations on the cheek but are usually placed in the natural dimple on the client’s face and should not be placed further back than the first molars. This can cause issues with the salivary glands that are located within the cheek. This is considered one of the lesser painful facial/oral piercings, usually done with 16 to 12 gauge barbells preferably with a flat back. This piercing takes anywhere from 2-3 months or longer to heal. Cleaning can be done with the sea salt solution, many find using a small shot glass to hold over the area to be an easy way to do so.
The Smiley/ Scrumper and Frowny Piercings
Smiley and scrumper are both names for the piercing of the upper frenulum, which is a piece of skin that connects the center of the upper lip and gums. The frowny is a piercing of lower frenulum that connects the lower lip and gums. Performed with usually with jewelry between 16 to 18 gauge circular barbell, horseshoe, or curved barbell; this piercing heals in about 4 to 8 weeks. This piercing comes with the risk of rejection and migration as well as the wearing of the tooth enamel, all things to consider before getting this piercing.
The Lingual Frenulum Piercing
This is a piercing of the web located underneath the tongue if the client has the substantial anatomy to accommodate the jewelry. Most often done with a small curved bar or 16 gauge ring. This piercing heals quickly and easily in about 4 to 6 weeks. This piercing has a tendency to reject but most people keep it for at least a few years. Clean the piercing by using a non-alcohol based mouthwash. Be sure to keep it free of food and debris. Avoid swimming, alcohol, and sexual contact until it’s healed.
Considering getting your first piercing? For some people it’s a right of passage, for others it may mark a life event, or be the doorway to an individual finding themselves. Whatever your reasoning, there a few things to consider and some vital information you need before you make your choice.
The two factors when thinking about a piercing you need to consider are Anatomy (physical structure) and Aesthetics (physical appearance). Your piercer will be able to help you determine if your desired piercing is anatomically possible for your body. Try not to get too keen on one particular piercing until you consult with the piercer. Should your body be accommodating physically the decision ultimately lies with you whether or not you think the piercing will compliment your appearance. Piercings can be used to draw attention to a certain area or detract unwanted attention from a less desirable feature. Draw focus to the lips with a ring or stud for example. The most important thing is that you like the piercing and the way it looks on you.
Once you’ve decided on what piercing you want and have consulted your piercer it’s time to prepare yourself!
Make sure you have all of your aftercare supplies on hand and ready before you go.
A few things to buy may include:
- Non-iodized sea salt (finely ground dissolves easier in water)
- Mild anti-microbial soap
- A container for soaking your piercing (a shot glass works well)
- Alcohol-free antiseptic mouth wash (crest pro-health as an example)
- Pads or panty liners if you’re getting a genital piercing
- Popsicles to help with swelling from an oral or tongue piercing
A few things to bring with you to your appointment:
- Your identification ( Commonly accepted forms are Driver’s license, Passport, Military ID, State issued ID, and Foreign government id with photo)
- A snack and/or drink such as fruit and juice to stabilize your blood sugar after
- A friend! Don’t be afraid to bring one friend with you if you need moral/ emotional support, just don’t bring a crowd as it makes the piercer’s job more difficult, but be sure to ask if the piercer minds your having company with your for the procedure
Be sure to eat beforehand as well! Many people forget to eat in their anxiousness and end up feeling light headed or passing out from the dip in blood sugar level getting pierced causes. A light snack one to two hours before should do the trick, but a heavy meal is best avoided as you may experience nausea or vomiting.
Things to avoid:
Pay attention to your physical condition. If you’re not feeling well you should post-pone your appointment, it’s easier for your body to heal while you’re healthy. Avoid drinking heavily the night before, having a hangover will make you more sensitive to pain and may cause excessive bleeding as alcohol thins the blood. Do not take aspirin, Advil(ibuprofen), or Aleve(naproxen) beforehand. These are also blood thinners. Many piecers recommend Motrin after the piercing is performed to reduce swelling.
Relax. Do something to take your mind off your upcoming appointment, practice slow deep breathing. Remind yourself that the actual piercing will only take but a few seconds, any discomfort should pass quickly.
At the Studio
Cost- “Why are piercings so expensive they’re just jabbing me with a needle?” Piercings are costly because body piecers go through long periods of training, knowing where major veins and arteries are is one of many crucial factors when placing a piercing. The supplies such as high quality surgical grade steel, the needles, and the auto-clave (the machine used to sterilize tools, jewelry, etc) are very costly. When choosing a piercing studio don’t just go for the best price, go for which shop has the best reputation. Check out online reviews and ask around to see what the public’s general consensus is.
Don’t Touch Anything!
Everything within the piercing room must be sterilized and your hands can contaminate the tools or other surfaces, so if you really feel the need to handle a piece, ask first!
Before the actual piercing, the piecer will take your ID and make a copy of it for their records. You will also have to fill out a waiver, be sure to answer all medical questions thoroughly and honestly. Once in the piercing room you may, depending on the location of the desired piercing, has to remove some clothing items. A good piercer will always be professional when dealing with the exposed human form. Don’t worry too much about your body, the piercer is here to guide you and give you a safe, pleasant experience. They won’t be judging you on your body type or looks.
The piercer will mark the desired area with a temporary ink and have you look at the projected placement in the mirror so you can decide if that location is what you want, don’t be afraid to ask them to change it! Once the mark has been approved it’s finally time, the piercer should put on clean gloves before handling any tools. Often times for many piercings a clamp is used to ensure an accurate piercing. The piercer may ask to to deep breathe in and then out as they push the needle through, this is very brief and possibly sharp sensation passes quickly. Then, the jewelry will be inserted as the needle is pushed out, this may be more uncomfortable than the actual piercing, just breathe deeply and relax. The area will be cleaned and you’re done!
You may experience some light headedness from the rush of endorphins and adrenaline, sit or lie as long as you need to afterwards until you feel comfortable moving. If you brought a snack or drink, now is a good time to consume them to stabilize your blood sugar. Also you may take the Motrin if you brought some. Make sure to listen to the aftercare instructions from your piercer, and don’t be afraid to call them or stop in if you have any issues or questions.
Don’t forget to tip your piercer either!
Watch as our friend Natori gets her double forward helix project by piercer James of American Skin Art in Buffalo, NY!
Money Shot at 0:20 and 0:50
What is a Helix?
The helix is the curled outer rim of the ear, and can be pierced and most any point. Forward helix means that it is the area further most towards the front of the ear.
Come see Maggie get her lower back dermals done!
What is a Dermal?
A dermal is a piece of jewelry that sits beneath the skin and has a decorative top that sits on the surface. Also knows under the term surface piercing, dermals are done using a dermal punch. The dermal punch is a hollow needle with an angled end that is used to remove a section of the skin to make way for the dermal anchor. The dermal anchor itself has flat base or ‘foot’ with holes in it which allow the flesh to grow through as it heals. This helps keep the jewelry in place and prevents it easily being ripped out. The exposed end has threading and the tops can be interchanged.
There are very few styles that can stand the test of time. Fashion trends are meant to have a shelf-life, to develop, bloom, and then fade into memory. However, there are certain forms of decoration that transcend this definition and become something more than beauty enhancement. This is what it means to be iconic.
The bindi is one of those kinds of icons.
Bindis are a traditional sign of faith and devotion to the Hindu religion and accounts of it’s significance can be found in texts dating back thousands of years and have become a staple in Indian fashion.
The bindi symbolizes so much more than a religious devotion: it is a symbol of Indian identity and a culturally specific fashion accessory. Online debates about who should, and should not, wear a bindi are becoming more prevalent as the appeal of incorporating more “global” accessories into an everyday look become more common.
With the ever evolving history of body modification and piercing, the vertical bridge piercing has been described by piercing experts as an effective way to “customize the way you face the world” (The Piercing Bible). This kind of piercing should not be done casually; typical gauges for a bindi piercing are 16 or 14 gauge curved barbells which can extend the healing time of the piercing. Also, with the thickness of the piercing, minor but visible scarring can occur if the time comes for the piercing to be abandoned.
Wherever you are in the world, whatever your fashion taste, remember that only the best accessories can be considered iconic. Pierce or place a bindi on your forehead because it belongs to all of us.
I love my body. I love my tattoos. I love my piercings.
Whenever I decide to get a new tattoo or body piercing, family and friends are bound to ask “What will they think of you at work?” or “Won’t that look unprofessional?”
Fair questions, I guess. As a working professional at the age of . . . well, forget my age; it can be a challenge to balance the professional me with the actual me. My job involves meeting and taking with people all day, everyday. At work I am not Kate, I am usually called Dr. C or Professor. The vision students—and other professors—have of how a college professor should look often doesn’t include tattoos and body piercings. I have to consider how my piercings can affect how well I can do my job.
But I love a challenge and I have found a balance that works for me. More and more places of business are relaxing their policies on body art due to increasing workers–blue collar, white collar, Ivory Tower alike–who have visible ink and piercings. With a little research, forethought, and persistence, I discovered that there are a wide range of piercings which are fashion forward and professionally appropriate.
Ear piercings are considered very safe and easy. Aftercare and reducing the risk of infection can be easy as well. With over a dozen different places for piercing on the ear (and double that for both ears!) there are countless combinations of styles to suit your professional appearance.
I decided to get my anti-tragus pierced. I have three piercings in my left ear lobe along with a BCR in my left tragus. It seemed natural to add to my right ear where I have only two ear lobe piercings and I liked the proportional look of balance piercing my tragus and anti-tragus.
Experienced piercing professionals will have an informal, informational routine to the piercing process. James, my piercing artist, made me feel at ease immediately. We chatted about music and movies as he carefully set out the tools and jewelry, taking his time to show the sterilization labels on all the instruments, and putting on his latex gloves.
James and I discussed the placement of my piercing; he cleaned the outside of my ear he made a small mark in washable ink for where the barbell would go. After looking in the mirror, making some placement adjustments, he cleaned the outside of my ear again.
It was time to lie back on the piercing bench.
Did it hurt? No more or less than my other piercings. Stillness and steady breathing are important. Give yourself something to squeeze, hold on to a friend’s hand. It only takes a second. The tragus and anti-tragus on ears have very few nerve endings and, therefore, pain is minimized in comparison to other body piercings.
Aftercare can be a challenge for a working professional with a hectic schedule. Thankfully there are a wide range of products that are effective, safe, and convenient. Follow the instructions your piercing professional gives you, don’t be afraid to call them with questions or concerns.
If you are a working professional, find your balance. It can be done.
Love your body. Love your tattoos. Love your piercings.
Welcome to the Final Installment of Our Ear Stretching Guide!
Keeping your lobes healthy is continuous process. Using products like Hold Fast stretching balm or jojoba oil keeps the skin soft and moisturized. These also help reduce scar tissue and thicken your lobes, and can reduce blow outs over time if used daily.
What is ear funk and how do I fix it?
Your ears, like any area of skin, shed dead cells. This becomes trapped in between your lobe and jewelry after several days of continuous wear. The dead skin cells build up and cause your ear lobes to smell. You can remedy/avoid this by removing your plugs and washing your lobes or wearing organic plugs, as the porous nature of the material will absorb the cells.
Wearing Double Flared or Saddle Plugs:
People often find difficulty in wearing this style plug in sizes 0 gauge and under. To insert a double flare plug, lube your lobes beforehand, then place the plug in at an angle. Be sure to never force a piece of jewelry into your ear.
Organic Plug Care:
Materials that fall into this category are, wood, horn, bone, coral, stone, and the like. Wood in particular should be kept dry to avoid cracking and swelling. Using an oil such as jojoba is recommended to condition the wood and give it shine. Simply massage a small amount onto the jewelry.
If you experience swelling, redness, itching, discharge and/or hotness you may have an infection. It is recommended to downsize the jewelry and allow the ears to return to normal. Wearing steel or glass is a good option for irritated ears as the non-porous material minimizes the risk of prolonging infection. If you feel the problem is serious, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Find the Other Portions of the Guide:
Welcome to Part 2 of Our Ear Stretching Guide!
Methods of stretching:
Tapers are one of the most common ways ear are stretched, especially within the range of 14-00 gauge. A taper is a straight piece made usually of acrylic or steel that is smaller on one end and gradually increases in diameter.
Types of Tapers
Acrylic tapers are the least expensive and an easy option for most. The are light weight and come in many colors and patterns. Acrylic tapers though, can not be sterilized and may be a bit harder to get through the ear.
Basic steel tapers are higher quality than acrylic but remain a good option for those on a budget. They can be sterilized as they are non-porous and can be autoclaved. Also, they slide easier through the ear. Due to the flat back to them, they require a steady hand when switching from taper to plug.
Concave Steel Tapers (Highly Recommended):
Concave tapers are the best and highest quality tapers to use. Like the basic steel tapers, they can be autoclaved and sterilized for a safe and clean stretch. They also have a concave back (an indention on the end of the taper) so that the plugs actually fit inside of the taper so when you’re ready you can insert your taper, put the plug into the back of the taper, and follow through. These tapers are bit more costly but well worth the price.
Time to Stretch!
-Get a good quality lubricant such as Surgilube or jojoba oil.
-Lube your ears thoroughly as well as the taper.
-Insert the taper up to the base of the larger side.
-Once through, follow your plug through after the taper.
-Don’t worry if it takes a few minutes, take your time!
The Wrapping or Taping Method
Once you reach about 0-00 gauge, you will find this is a good option for stretching, as the jumps between sizes increase. Wrapping is simple, you take your current size plug ( we recommend a straight plug or tunnel; non-saddle plug) and wrap between 1-3 layers of tape. You can trim or tuck the excess into the tunnel. Doing this about once per week is the recommended pace. It takes about 1-2 months but it allows for healing time and has minimal risk for damage or blow outs.
Types of tape to use are PTFE tape and Bondage tape. These are non-toxic and won’t irritate your skin.
Find the Other Portions of the Guide: