Archive for Piercing and Aftercare Information

what you need to know about tragus jewelry

Piercings of the tragus (that little nub of cartilage that extends in front of the ear canal’s opening) have become extremely popular in the 2010s, but the jewelry that can be worn in them varies considerable depending on a variety of factors.

The first is what you were pierced with.  Depending on where you live, who pierces it, and your own ear’s anatomical characteristics, you may have been pierced with either a stud or a circular.  So why does that matter?  Because the piercing itself will heal relative in shape to the jewelry that’s worn during the healing process.  For those who were pierced with a circular barbell, this means that switching to a straight barbell or stud is likely to either be uncomfortable, or not work at all, and vice versa.  That’s why knowing the type of jewelry that you’d like to wear from the get-go is a good way to avoid disappointment, because your piercer can likely use the style you prefer for the initial piercing, setting you up to continue wearing similar pieces.

 intial tragus jewelry

Next, is the size.  Tragus piercings can be performed in either a 14 or 16 gauge, or more rarely in a teensy 18 gauge.  Knowing your size is essential to getting jewelry that fits, because even though the difference looks pretty miniscule, it doesn’t feel like it, and nobody wants a piece of tiny jewelry sliding around in a larger size piercing.  Other dimensions will of course come into play as well, like the diameter for circulars or BCRs, and the length for barbells or stud type items.

 how to size tragus jewelry

And last, we have preference.  Once you know your correct size and type of jewelry, it’s time to pick out a style.  Do you like gems?  Dangles?  Or would you rather just keep it simple?  This can be a matter of trial and error, but eventually you’re sure to find a specific style of item that’s comfy, pleasant looking, and makes you feel good.  Happy tragus shopping!


Tid Bits: Industrials

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industrial style cartilage piercings

The traditional industrial is actually a set of two piercings through the helix or outer rim of the ear, connected by a single piece of barbell body jewelry.  In recent years, other sets of two or even three interconnected piercings in a variety of orientations have popped up, and many of these now also fall under the “industrial” umbrella.  This includes vertical industrials, tragal industrials (usually from tragus to anti-tragus or tragus to conch), and pairs of helix industrials that cross over eachother, sometimes called an “industrial cage piercing.”

 different type sof industrial ear piercings

Other evolutions of the standard industrial find the piercings themselves remaining the same, but new styles of jewelry overhauling the look.  Industrial barbells with all types of bends, spirals, waves, and dangling elements are now readily available, as well as extra long project bars that accommodate longer (usually vertical) combinations.  Many who are pierced will choose to add the industrial to an already complex array of preexisting ear piercings, and as long as the individual’s anatomy allows, working within the parameters of existing body art is generally not a problem.

 fun styles of industrial barbell

To see an industrial ear piercing (and loads of other piercings) being performed up close, be sure to check out our YouTube channel, and subscribe to the BodyCandy Blog to peruse the Industrials category.

Watch as the lovely Kaitlyn gets a double belly piercing.  That’s right, we’re talking piercings on the top and the bottom. Look for the needle insertion at about 26 seconds.

The site of the bottom belly piercing is marked for accuracy.  The placement of the mark is double checked, then our modification enthusiast is told to take a deep breath, and lets it out as the needle is inserted.  The master piercer then corks the needle to avoid any unnecessary pokes, matches up the jewelry with the free end, and slides it through smoothly, adjusting and tightening it as needed.

 belly piercings being performed

Belly piercing aftercare is much like that of other piercings, with sea salt soaks and washes often being recommended, along with avoidance of alcohol, knocking or bumping the area, and use of potentially irritating lotions or perfumes.  Initial healing can take place in as little as eight to twelve weeks, with complete healing sometimes taking up to a year.

Kaitlyn’s belly is looking awesome after her new piercings, which pair with an already existing dermal to make a beautiful set of navel adornments.

 Double Belly Piercings

For more candid close-ups of real piercings being performed, subscribe to our channel on YouTube.


Modern Piercings: Scratching the Surface

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modern surface style piercings

In the early days there were piercings of the upper ears, nose, eyebrows, and belly button, and very few outside challenges.  Then as time went on and more modification artists started to expand and explore, new piercings like the daith, the madison, and the nasallang came about.  But right in the here and now is where mod enthusiasts should feel the luckiest, especially since we live in the age of dermals and surface piercings.

Surface piercings are those piercings in which both the entry and exit points occur on the same plane of skin, with only the tips or decorative portions of the jewelry being visible.  This type of piercing utilizes a staple shaped barbell called a surface bar, and the barbell portion itself remains below the skin, with both free ends resting above.  This enables artists to pierce the human body almost anywhere.

 the anatomy of a surface body piercing

There are several methods of creating a channel within the skin to house the surface barbell, including the use of forceps and a single needle (like a regular piercing), the use of two needles and no forceps, and the technique known as “punch and taper” which employs a taper or needle along with a dermal punch.  The use of many of these approaches will depend on both the area of the piercing, and the preferences of the piercer.

Most surface piercings carry a slightly higher risk of migration or rejection comparative to standard piercings, but with proper aftercare and maintenance, they can be healed and worn comfortably for many years.  The surface bar itself is not continually changed out or removed, but the tips can be changed repeatedly to augment the look of the piercing.

 body jewelry balls

Some of the most popular surface piercing sites include the wrists, the nape of the neck, the eye/cheek area, the hips, the clavicles, the sternum, and the side of the head near the ear (in the tragus area).

areas of the body for surface piercings


Nose Piercings: Saving the Rhino

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vertical nose tip piercing

The vertical nose tip piercing, or “rhino,” is a very unique contemporary piercing of the cartilage that comprises the front of the nose.  These piercings get their name from the resemblance of their shape to the nose of (you guessed it) the common rhinoceros.

 endangered rhinoceroses

Rhino piercings are interesting, they’re unisex, and they’re wearable long term when taken care of properly.  The standard nose tip piercing is done with a regular hollow piercing needle and normally extends from just under the tip of the nose, to the top of the rose, at or near the spot where the nose tip begins to curve.  They can be performed deeper though, as individual anatomy allows, extending as far as the top of the nose near the beginning of the bridge.

 different styles of rhino nose piercings

For regular rhino piercings a curved barbell is normally worn, while a long, flexible straight bar is often made use of for deeper variations.  Due to the piercing’s placement, a bioflex or bioplast barbell is a good option for both styles, as the nose sees a lot of movement from sneezing, tissue use, and facial expressions.  Aftercare is comparable to that of standard nose piercings, and a focus on avoiding makeup and limiting the risk of blunt trauma is generally encouraged.

 flexible bioplast bars

Besides being an awesome and unique looking piercing, the rhino is also a great aid for raising awareness of the dire situation that our real rhinos are in.  All five major species of African and Asian rhino are experiencing dwindling numbers, with the African Black Rhino and the Javan Rhino now facing critical endangerment.  At current numbers, it is likely that more than one of these species may become extinct within our lifetime.  To create an awareness initiative in your community, talk to your local piercers about group discounts for rhino piercings, post your rhino piercing photos with donation links, or visit your local Save the Rhino or International Rhino Foundation sites.


The Ins and Outs of Tongue Piercing

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ins and outs of tongue piercing

Tongue piercings are generally performed close to the center of the tongue, and far enough forward to avoid any serious risk to the teeth.  The human tongue can be pierced in a variety of places however, and multiple tongue piercings are not uncommon.  Veteran piercer Elayne Angel actually has five of them, and managed to perform the last four herself.

 pairs or sets of tongue piercings

The human tongue has an amazing capacity for mending itself, and consequentially the initial healing time for tongue piercings can be short, sometimes taking place in as little as two to four weeks.  Swelling commonly occurs during this stage, and tends to cause discomfort whilst speaking or eating solid food, so extra long barbells are normally inserted initially, and can be changed later when the inflammation has gone down.  During the process of convalescence, avoidance of alcohol, smoking, spicy or acidic foods, and irritating alcohol-based mouthwashes is often recommended.  Special mouthwash that’s alcohol free and formulated with sea salts or saline is easy to obtain and can be used frequently to assist with healing, especially after meals to prevent food particles from entering the piercing.

 piercing aftercare mouthwashes

There are many variations on traditional tongue piercing including the venom (two separate tongue piercings placed side by side), and the snake eyes, which is a horizontal or “surface” type piercing.  Tongue piercings can also be stretched successfully, and stretched piercings are sometimes used as a jumping off point for tongue splitting.  The connective under-layers of the tongue, or the “webs” (frenulum linguae), can also be pierced, which is usually referred to as simply “tongue web piercing” or a “marley.”

 horizontal and tongue web piercings

For the most part the jewelry that’s worn in tongue piercings consists of a straight barbell with acrylic or metal balls or decorative ends.  Sometimes a flexible bar can be used, or occasionally a retainer with silicone ends.  Novelty items are also somewhat popular, such as vibrating tongue rings or those with silicone tickler elements.

 fun novelty vibrating tongue jewelry

Fun Facts:

Did you know that the Aztecs used tongue piercing as a form of ritual bloodletting in an effort appease the gods?  These piercings were temporary and generally didn’t involve any jewelry.

Also, that story that we’ve all heard about a tongue being pierced wrong and causing somebody’s demise, is just an urban legend.  There’s only one documented case of someone dying after getting their tongue pierced, and it was due to an already existing infection.


New Piercing Trends: Keep Your Chin Up

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vertical chin surface piercings

So you’ve heard of labret piercing.  You’ve probably also heard of lowbret piercing, or extra low labret piercings that fall more at the crest of the chin than actually underneath the lip.  But what about downright chin piercings?

Yep, that’s actually a thing.  To be a true chin piercing instead of just a strategically placed lowbret, this type of piercing is done vertically through the skin at the front of the chin.  But although it’s technically a surface piercing, because of the skeletal curvature in this area and the wealth of thick, elastic skin, the “chin piercing” as it’s simply being called is generally done with a barbell rather than a surface bar.

The best choice for this area, because of all the movement from talking, chewing, and facial expressions is generally a flexible bar made out of bioflex, bioplast, or PTFE.   These types of materials are non-metallic, hypoallergenic, and biocompatible, meaning that they’re specifically designed for use in living tissue and will vastly reduce the likelihood of migration or rejection.

 self-threading flexible PTFE bars

Though the chin piercing may take slightly longer to heal than your average facial piercing, it’s definitely a viable long-term piercing, and it’s starting become somewhat of a trend amongst modification enthusiasts.  Due partially to its position in the chin or “beard” area, this is one piercing that’s actually seeing more popularity amongst young men, though it definitely remains a unisex modification.  It also makes a great addition aesthetically to already existing lip piercings like the standard labret, or symmetrical snake bites.

chin piercings paired with other symmetrical piercings


Helix Piercings

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piercings of the helix ear cartilage

The term “helix piercing” refers to any piercing of the helix portion of the human ear.  This type of piercing has been called many other names, but the most common is simply “cartilage piercing.” The helix can be pierced in various spots along the ear’s rim, and for most is able to be pierced in multiple locations.  Traditional industrial piercings pass through a portion of helix, but are distinguished from other sets of helix piercings by their connection via a single piece of jewelry.

 different styles of cartilage piercings

Like other cartilage piercings, the helix piercing is performed with a hollow piercing needle, and requires diligent aftercare.  Cleansings with saline or gentle antimicrobial soap are often recommended, along with avoidance of hair products, pool or pond water, and makeup.  Most helix piercings will pass through the initial phases of healing quickly, by around the eight to twelve week mark, but complete healing may take several months.

 caring for piercings

A variety of jewelry styles can be worn in the helix piercing, including BCRs and other circulars, stud style pieces, and barbells which can sometimes include a dangling element.  For those who have multiple piercings of the ear, more decorative jewelry that “connects ” their piercings to each other with chains can also be worn.  Some common combinations include helix to tragus, and helix to earlobe.

chain connector ear cartilage jewelry


Tragus Piercings

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piercings of the tragus ear cartilage

The tragus is the fibrous nub of flesh that protrudes from the side of the head, shielding the opening of the ear canal.  Because this area is primarily cartilaginous, and highly visible when the hair is swept up or brushed behind the ear, it’s a perfect place to pierce. Like many of the other common ear piercings, this one is named after the actual part of the ear anatomy it corresponds to, and is called simply “tragus piercing.”

 piercing names and ear anatomy

The jewelry used for tragus piercings can vary greatly depending upon individual anatomy, the needle size used for the piercing, and personal style.  Both barbells and circulars can be worn, as well as flat-backed stud type items, and occasionally curved or spiral-shaped barbells.

 tragus piercing ear jewelry

As with most cartilage piercings, the tragus tends to heal relatively quickly, but must be kept healthy with proper aftercare.  During the initial healing phases, avoidance of heavy hair products and not sleeping on your newly pierced side are often recommended, as these and other factors can contribute to irritation or lengthen the time it takes to mend.

For more on ear piercings, be sure to check out our Ear Piercings category, and follow us on YouTube to view your favorite piercings being performed up close and personal.

Watch as beautiful BodyCandy friend Tara gets her nostril pierced by veteran piercer James.

After cleaning her nose thoroughly and marking the exact point he wants to pierce, James gets the hollow needle receiving tube ready, and gently double checks the placement with his finger.  Tara is told to take a deep breath, and as she exhales, the needle goes through.  Corking the pointed end for safety and ease, the piercer then presses the needle the rest of the way through, chasing it with a beautiful new nose ring.  The area is cleaned once more, and Tara is ready to walk away with her new piercing.

 Getting a Nose Piercing

The nostril is one of the most common piercing sites on the planet, second only to the human ear.  Because this part of the nose is primarily composed of cartilaginous tissue, nostril piercings tend to heal fairly quickly.  They require the same type of aftercare as other cartilage piercings, usually consisting of gentle cleanses and/or sea salt soaks.

Tara’s piercing is a beautiful addition to her other preexisting mods, and completes a fun and youthful look.

 the final look

Did you know?

In Indian Ayurvedic medicine, the nostril of a woman is pierced for much more than fashion.  It’s believed that nose piercings performed in certain spots can lessen the pain of cramps, improve overall feminine health, and even aid in successful childbirth.