Part 2 – Piercings
As with tattoos you have to find the right piercer. The shop must be clean. All jewellery that is to be used should be autoclaved as must the equipment to be used.
Piercers (and tattooists) MUST wear gloves, many tattooists and piercers will regularly change their gloves during the process of tattooing or piercing you. This is to stop cross-contamination.
There are MANY piercings available to you – however I am going to go with the most “fashionable” piercings. (please note the “Anti-Helix” is most commonly referred to as a “Snug” piercing.)
Let’s start with the ear! I bet you never imaged there were this many piercings available for your ear?!
The Rook – the rook piercing for best healing should be pierced with a 14 gauge (1.6mm) curved barbell. This stops anything from catching, twisting and pulling. The length of the barbell depends on the size and thickness of the ridge of cartilage to be pierced. Your piercer will advise you on this. Healing can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months. Sometimes longer.
The Daith – usually pierced with a 14 gauge (1.6mm) BCR (also referred to as a CBR) diameter will vary depending on the size and thickness of the cartilage to be pierced. This piercing is not advised if you wear ear bud headphones, they will aggrieved the piercing and can make the piercing heal at a strange angle. Healing time is from between 6 to 12 months.
The Tragus – usually pierced with a labret or barbell (depending on if you wear ear bud headphones – please note it will be uncomfortable if you do.) in either 16 gauge (1.2mm) or 14 gauge (1.6mm) jewellery. Healing time is usually between 4 and 8 months however sometimes they can take a little longer.
The Anti-Tragus – this piercing swells a lot and is rather painful. Not advised for anyone who wears ear bud headphones. Can be pierced with a barbell or labret at 14 gauge (1.6mm). Healing time varies but generally between 12 and 18 months.
Ear Lobe – the most well known ear piercing. Can be pierced with a labret, barbell, curved barbell, circular barbell or CBR but always should be pierced at 14 gauge (1.6mm). For best healing results a labret, barbell or curved barbell to reduce movement. Healing time is roughly 3 to 6 months (for FULL healing).
Anti-Helix – Also known as a Snug piercing. Should be pierced with a 14 gauge (1.6mm) curved or straight barbell. Very awkward piercing (from experience I know this). Healing time is from 12 to 18 months.
Helix – also known in schools simply as a cartilage piercing. For best healing should be pierced with a 14 gauge (1.6mm) barbell or labret to minimize movement. Healing time between 8 and 14 months but can sometimes take longer.
Industrial – two helix piercings joined by one bar. This can be done either in two parts or one and can be healed by wearing two separate pieces of jewellery or one. Personal experience has taught me that one piece of jewellery heals best – however this varies from person to person. For best healing results either one (long) 14 gauge (1.6mm) barbell or two smaller barbells.
On to the face!
Eyebrow – technically a surface piercing and so rejection rates are high. Should be pierced at 14 gauge (1.6mm) with a slightly curved barbell. Straight barbells encourage rejection. Healing time is between 6 and 12 months however some eyebrow piercings never heal.
Earl – also known as a bridge piercing. Again a surface piercing. Should be pierced with a 14 gauge (1.6mm) straight barbell. Rejection rates vary for this as do healing times. Healing is between 5 and 10 months.
Nostril – can be pierced with anything ranging from 18 gauge (1mm) to 12 gauge (2mm) and can have a small nostril stud, labrets or barbells for healing. Healing can take between 6 and 12 months.
Septum – the piece in the middle of your nose between your nostrils. Can be pierced with anything from 16 gauge (1.2mm) right up to 10 gauge (3mm) and then you get into the realms of dermal punching and scalpelling. Can be pierced with a curved barbell, straight barbell, CBR or circular barbell. Healing time varies a lot from 4 months to over a year. Some people find they simply cannot heal a septum piercing. Not advised if you suffer from allergies that make your nose run or are prone to colds!
Medusa – centre of top lip. Can be pierced with a 16 gauge (1.2mm) or 14 gauge (1.6mm) labret. Healing time is between 4 and 6 months.
Madonna – top lip off centre. Healing time and jewellery is the same as a Medusa.
Centre Labret – most commonly called “Labret piercing” is on the bottom lip and centred. Can be pierced with anything from 16 gauge (1.2mm), 14 gauge (1.6mm) or 12 gauge (2mm) labrets. Healing time is between 4 and 6 months.
Lower side lip – a pair is called snake bites. Generally pierced at 16 gauge (1.2mm) or 14 gauge (1.6mm) healing time is between 4 and 6 months.
Cheeks – not AS common but they are around. Cheek piercings are full of problems. Should be pierced with 20mm long 14 gauge (1.6mm) barbells, sometimes longer to allow for excess swelling. Healing time is anywhere from 24 months to 4 years for FULL healing. I know many people who have never healed their cheek piercings.
Tongue – everyone and their sister seems to have a tongue piercing these days. Should be pierced with a 14 gauge (1.6mm) 20mm long barbell which is normally switched down to a 14mm long or 16mm long barbell after two weeks. Full healing is achieved between 6 and 10 weeks.
Other Piercings that are currently fashionable are Navels and Nipples.
Navels – should be pierced with a 14 gauge (1.6mm) curved barbell usually around 10mm to 12mm in length to allow for swelling. Technically this is a surface piercings so rejection rates are high. Many people find their navel piercing reject to a certain point and then stop however others find they carry on rejecting. Healing can be between 6 and 12 months while some people find they never heal.
Nipple Piercings – again, another surface piercing so do not be surprised if they reject over time. Should be pierced with 14 gauge (1.6mm) straight barbells. Length varies depending on the size of the nipple. Healing time varies but is generally never less than a year while some people find they never heal.
All piercings carry risks of infection but as long as you clean them regularly (2 – 3 times a day is plenty) with a warm sea salt solution you should be fine. If in doubt go back to your piercer and do NOT remove the piercing. Signs of infection include a green discharge (pus), the area around the piercing is red, swollen and warm to the touch, extreme pain and often an odour.
Lymph discharge (clear to off white) is normal during healing as are “crusties” around the piercing. Soak them off with warm water. Never pick them off.
Another risk with piercing is Hypertrophic Scarring. A small lump that appears near the piercing. It can be a little soft or can be solid. These can be treated with asprin pastes (mix one asprin tablet with just enough water to turn into a paste), tea tree oil and in extreme cased (and as a very last resort) 6% diluted hydrogen peroxide or dettol disinfectant.
Stay away from obvious surface piercings; hips, wrists, nape of the neck, anti-eyebrow. The rejection rate is stupidly high, somewhere in the region of 90%.
Corset piercings may look pretty but they are NOT permanent. They are simply for photo shoots, play piercing and special events.
On a side note: a lot of people stretch their earlobes. I have seen a lot of 15 year olds with large lobes. I wish to point out that it is NOT called “gauging” and if you say to someone “you have cool gauges” it is not the correct terminology.
What you are doing to your lobes is STRETCHING them, therefore saying “nice stretches” works however saying “nice stretched lobes” works better as pretty much any piercing can be stretched. The measurement of the jewellery that a person wears uses the term gauge. i.e. you can say “I wear double zero gauge jewellery” this makes sense however “I just gauged my lobes” is simply just saying “I just measured my lobes”. The jewellery usually worn in stretched lobes are tunnels and plugs which come in a wide variety of designs and materials.