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  LiveWire / Teen Forums / Glamour & Fashion / Viewing Topic

The ultimate safe body piercing guide from start to finish
Replies: 15Last Post Dec. 30, 2013 1:18pm by VioVoid
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( iamironman  )


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Taking care of a piercing is a difficult process if done properly. If done improperly, it can lead to irritation, rejection, infection, and lots of pain. This topic will take you through all of the steps, from how to find the right piercer all the way up to once it's healed.



Deciding what to get pierced

Finding a reputable piercer

Going to the shop

Jewelry selection

Piercing preparation

The piercing itself

Aftercare

Possible complications

Bonus round ear stretching


I hope this guide proves helpful to anyone considering getting a piercing. Should you have any questions, post here, message me, or contact a reputable piercer(naturally this is the best option).  

Post edited at 10:57 am on Dec. 24, 2013 by ixi


10:46 am on Dec. 24, 2013 | Joined: Oct. 2004 | Days Active: 2,237
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Deciding what to get pierced: Though this is entirely a personal decision, there are many things you should take into account. Think about your lifestyle. Say you are a talented musician who plays an instrument such as a trumpet or didgeridoo. If you are, getting a labret piercing, for example, might not be the best idea.

Post edited at 10:51 am on Dec. 24, 2013 by iamironman


10:46 am on Dec. 24, 2013 | Joined: Oct. 2004 | Days Active: 2,237
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Finding a piercer: You have to remember, just because someone is a "professional" does NOT mean they in particularly know the exact procedure. To be a professional piercer you are not required to have a liscence, and many piercers who from the beginning were trained incorrectly will then continue to pierce incorrectly for the rest of their career.

The best way to find a good local piercer is to check the Association of Professional Piercers website. You should read through this website before getting a piercing anyway, as it's the location of some of the best piercing advice on the web. Though APP members also do not have a license, being an APP member shows a certain level of professionalism that tends to go hand in hand with professional piercing.

Also what is very important to remember is that cheap piercings aren't good, and good piercings aren't cheap. If the price is considerably cheaper than an APP member's shop, then odds are they are selecting poorer quality jewelry or use fewer sanitation procedures. A good piercing will run pretty expensive, but the old saying "you get what you pay for" is the best way to describe piercings when it comes to price.

Post edited at 11:12 am on Dec. 24, 2013 by iamironman


10:47 am on Dec. 24, 2013 | Joined: Oct. 2004 | Days Active: 2,237
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Going to the shop: Going to a piercing shop for the first time shouldn't be as simple as you want the piercing and they do it. To ensure that the place is sanitary, ask to see their autoclave system, which uses pressure and steam at 121C to sterilize the piercing equipment. This is the same technique doctors use to prep for surgery. Also ask about their experience, if you can see the piercing room to see how sterile it is, and any other questions about safety. These do not offend piercers, which is a common misconception. If they refuse to show you their autoclave, leave and find a new piercer, as that is sketchy, unprofessional, and entirely unacceptable.

Post edited at 1:32 am on Dec. 25, 2013 by iamironman


10:47 am on Dec. 24, 2013 | Joined: Oct. 2004 | Days Active: 2,237
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Selecting the jewelry: There are two sides to this. Practical, and aesthetic. The piercer will tell you the best kinds of jewelry to wear in the given piercing, but sometimes even if there are multiple options, some styles will heal easier than others. As an example, say you are getting a surface piercing but want a straight or curved barbell. Should the piercer give the okay to one of these kinds of jewelry, also leave and find another shop. But generally a talented, experienced piercer will steer you in the right direction.

The material is what's most important to a piercing choice. Acrylic is absolutely a horrible material, especially to start off with. 316LVM F-138 implant grade surgical steel and titanium are usually your best bet, and are used nearly exclusively in fresh piercings by professionals. Ask the piercer what grade the jewelry is and if they are ASTM certified(American Society for Testing and Materials). The three top of the line companies are Neometal, Anatometal, and Industrial Strength(not in order, they are all of equal quality). If the piercer does not carry any of these brands, leave and find a new piercer, as 9 times out of 10 that means they use poor quality jewelry. Just because they say surgical steel does not mean that it is quality. As the world renowned piercer JC Potts says,  "saying surgical steel is like saying space age plastic. It means nothing unless it's of proper grade."

Post edited at 10:53 am on Dec. 24, 2013 by iamironman


10:47 am on Dec. 24, 2013 | Joined: Oct. 2004 | Days Active: 2,237
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The piercing prep: After they sterilize their tools, ask if you can see the autoclave bag. When autoclaving the jewelry/receiving tubes/whatever tool is being used is placed in a small bag before it is inserted. Again, a legitimate piercer will have absolutely no problem with this, as it shows that their clients are well informed, which is a positive when going over the procedure.

It is important to not drink alcohol, take ibuprofen, or asprin before a piercing as they tend to thin blood, which makes it more likely to bleed. It is also very important to eat no longer than four hours before the piercing is performed. Many piercers will suggest their clients leave to shop to grab a bite to eat while they autoclave the materials, which takes approximately 15-20 minutes.

Post edited at 10:57 am on Dec. 24, 2013 by iamironman


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The piercing itself: Some piercings sting, some hurt, and some REALLY hurt. Naturally the location of the piercing is the biggest contributing factor. An earlobe piercing is generally not very painful, where as piercings through cartilage, nipples, and genitals often times are accompanied by considerably more pain. The pain varies from person to person as well. Being nervous before a piercing is natural. Even though I've experience 18 piercings, I still get just as nervous before each one.

The piercer will mark your piercing site with either a pen or a particular type on ink. If you check the mirror and do not like the placement, let the piercer know. Once it is marked you should be either laid down or sat in a slightly reclined chair, just in case you get light headed from the piercing, which is very common. Focus on your breathing to try to stay calm.

Post edited at 10:54 am on Dec. 24, 2013 by iamironman


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Aftercare: This step is completely on you. Different piercers, even well renowned ones will sometimes have different opinions on the best methods of cleaning and piercing. But, if any of these are encouraged as aftercare, leave the shop.

*Rubbing alcohol. Alcohol is harsh on any kind of piercing, but that's not even the biggest issue. After the piercing is done, the fistula(inside of the hole) will have to regenerate new skin cells to heal. Rubbing alcohol can kill these cells, and though it will rarely lead to infection, it can prolong the healing process.

*Hydrogen peroxide. Same reasons as alcohol.

*Anti-bacterial soap. Though this may sound logical, using anti-bacterial soap can kill good bacteria and build up a resistance to bad bacteria. If soap is to be used(the use of soap will also vary based on the piercer, even some of the best), an anti-microbial is best to use. Brands such as Satin Soap are a good option if you take that route.

*Ear cleaning solution, such as the stuff given out at Claire's. This stuff is 99.9% distilled water, and .01% benzalkonium chloride, an ingredient that is used in Lysol and other surface cleaners. It is very harsh on a fresh piercing and should never be used.

Try to avoid touching your piercing as much as humanly possible, as it can irritate it and transfer bacteria. ALWAYS wash your hands very thouroughly before you touch you piercing in any way. Another important thing to remember is that just because it isn't swollen and doesn't hurt does not mean it's healed fully. Continue the cleaning for the recommended period of time regardless of how it feels.

What you should do for aftercare for various piercings:

Oral piercings: Oral piercings tend to be some of the fastest healers, as your mouth heals itself faster than any other part of the body. Approximately 4-6 weeks can be enough for the jewelry to be changed and mostly, if not entirely healed. Though it can be a tad annoying, caring for an oral piercing is pretty basic. The cleaning methods for this include an alcohol-free mouthwash(for the same reasons why rubbing alcohol is a poor choice). Biotine is one of the best you can get, but natural alcohol-free washes such as Tom's are also acceptable. Mouthwash is most importantly used after meals. Should any tiny bits of food get trapped in the fistula or under a flat back, it can lead to irritation and infection. However, you should only use the mouthwash 3-5 times a day maximum.

Along with this there are two other things that are important. First, sea salt soaks. Measure out exactly 1/4tsp of SEA salt(not iodized or epsom) to 8oz of distilled water. In the first few days, do not use the water warm, as oral piercings tend to swell more than others. Once the swelling goes down, then warm but not hot water is a good option. You also can take a gallon of distilled water and mix in exactly 2tsp of sea salt. Store the gallon in the refrigerator, and when used allow it to either reach room temperature or slightly warm it up. Soak for two minutes 2-3 times a day. Of course it can be very hard to soak an oral piercing, particularly if it's higher up such as a philtrum or Monroe. In this scenario, take a non-woven gauze pad, soak it in the sea salt solution, and place over the piercing. Do not put too much pressure, as that can irritate the piercing. Never use cotton balls, q-tips, or woven gauze. These can easily get caught and leave bits of cotton in the piercing, which can lead to irritation and infection. Ibuprofen is acceptable to take over the first few days, especially before you sleep. Take two approximately 30-40 minutes before sleep, since piercings tend to swell while you're asleep.

The final step for all oral piercings are sea salt rinses. Use the exact proportions as the soaks, and rinse your mouth for 30 seconds to a minute. You also can get products such as H2Ocean or a saline wound spray(not the kind for contacts, it must specifically say it is designed for wounds) can be used on the outside of the oral piercing. Check the ingredients to make sure salt and water are the only two ingredients.

Do not consume any alcohol for at least three weeks after an oral piercing, especially beer. Not only does beer contain alcohol, but the yeast can be trapped in the fistula and cause a yeast infection or thrush. Smoking can irritate the piercing. It's not the end of the world if you have a cigarette here and there, but try to keep it to a bare minimum and rinse your mouth with sea salt solution or mouth wash directly after.

Ear lobes: Sea salt soaks are used for every kind of piercing, which includes lobes. H2Ocean and saline wound wash are also good to use. These products are very good to use, but are not as good as a sea salt soak. The products are great for on the go, so that if you will be at school, work, or anywhere for an extended period of time, you can clean them without having to carry around a gallon jug of sea salt solution.

Again, the use of anti-microbial soap is going to vary. Should you decide to use the soap(and this applies to piercings on all parts of the ear), do NOT under any circumstance start by rotating the jewelry. For one, as you rotate it, it pushes bacteria into the fistula. It also will continue to irritate it early on. Clean around the area with the soap, and gently rinse off with warm water. It is recommended that this not be done at the bathroom sink, but rather in the shower. Your lobes should take 6-8 weeks to heal depending on your body. After that period of time the jewelry can be changed. However, should you decide to stretch your ears after the initial piercing, wait six months bare minimum before you start to stretch.

Cartilage piercings(helix, tragus, conch, etc): Piercings through cartilage are cleaned in essentially the same manner as lobes, though they take considerably longer to heal. It can take up to six months for a piercing through cartilage to totally heal, and even longer for some people.

Nose piercings: If you choose to use soap, only use it on the outside, since it can irritate the sinus. Sea salt soaks(on the nose the non-woven gauze will be your best bet so you don't drown yourself) and saline spray/H2Ocean are the best for cleaning. It takes approximately four months for a nose piercing to heal.

Surface anchors, aka microdermals: These are iffy piercings at best. Though they are unique and have a certain charm to them, they can be some of the most difficult to care for. Sea salt soaks and H2Ocean/saline wash should be used. Do not use soap when cleaning a surface piercing, since the soap can become trapped in the pocket made under your dermal layer.

There are several issues with surface anchors. One of them being that they have a very high likely hood of rejection, infection, and migration, all of which can be painful. Surface anchors, depending on the location, are easy to catch on things. Should the anchor get caught, it can cause great irritation, pain, and make infection more likely. Have a consultation with your piercing about your lifestyle and location before you decide to go for one of these.

Surface piercings: Surface piercings are similar to surface anchors in some ways. Rather than having two feet placed under the skin, a staple shaped barbell is put in. If you decide to get this but the piercer recommends a straight or curved barbell, leave the shop. Straight and curved barbells are almost guaranteed to reject or migrate. Should a surface piercing fully reject, it can and will leave a very unsightly scar.

Eyebrow: Sea salt soaks, H2Ocean/saline wound. Avoid soap because of how close to your eye it is.

Genitals: Soap should absolutely not be used in genital piercings. Should the soap go into the urethra or vagina, it will cause great discomfort and irritation to your lower regions. Fill a bowl with the sea salt solution, and over a tub soak your genitals in the solution. Since your genital regions are so sensitive, you just take extra care of them. Do not wear super tight pants or undergarments when the genital piercing is healing. A skirt for girls or baggy pants/boxers for guys are going to be the most comfortable. It also is important to abstain from sex and especially oral sex for at least three months(bummer). After four months minimum the jewelry may be changed.

Bridge: You need to be careful when cleaning a bridge, as it is directly in between your eyes. Should the sea salt get into your eye, it will cause extreme discomfort. Make sure to keep your eyes closed when using a spray or a non-woven gauze, since it's nearly impossible to soak a bridge and breathe at the same time.

Nipples: Nipples on both men and women are very sensitive. Sea salt soaks should be used. Yes, it can be difficult to soak a nipple, so the gauze is an option, as well as filling a glass with the solution and placing it over the nipple. For girls, wear a padded bra or sports bra for the first week or so, even in your sleep. This will protect the piercing and is more comfortable than the movement of the piercing on your shirt, and makes it much less likely to catch. Make sure every day you either wash or change the bra, because it comes in such direct contact with the piercing.

Navel: Sea salt soaks, spray solution.

Post edited at 11:16 am on Dec. 25, 2013 by iamironman


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What to do if:

Infection: There is a line between infection and irritation, and the two are often mixed up. If you have irritation, sea salt soaks are the best option. If it is an actual infection, you must go to a doctor for anti-biotics. A true infection deep in a fistula will not clear up from soaks or anti-microbial soap. If you suspect an infection, do not remove the jewelry before talking to your doctor. Many times, with a proper, DOCTOR PERSCRIBED anti-biotics regimen will clear up the infection, leaving the piercing in fine condition.

Rejection/migration: Rejection or migration is where you body starts to move the jewelry. Often times the jewelry will fully come out of the skin. If you start to experience either of these, go directly to a professional piercer and have them look at it. This usually will result in having to have the jewelry removed, unfortunately. Piercings such as surface anchors are the most common piercings to reject.

Bleeding: Small amounts of blood within a few hours of a new piercing is nothing to worry about. Should the bleed persist for a day or more, go have a consultation with your piercer. There are many things that can cause persistent bleeding, so you must talk to a professional.

Crust: "Crusties" are small amounts of blood plasma and dead blood cells, generally yellow in color,  that secrete from the piercing. It is not puss or lymphatic tissue, though they do look similar. It is completely normal and absolutely nothing to worry about. This can even persist for the entire healing process. To remove the crust, simply soak the piercing in warm salt water, which will cause them to dissolve. Do not pick them off with hands or tweezers, as this can pull on the jewelry and irritate the piercing.

Discoloration: Should your piercing start to develop any discoloration, then it may be cause for concern. It usually means there is either an infection or you are having an allergic reaction to the jewelry. You should see a doctor if this happens.

Post edited at 11:29 am on Dec. 24, 2013 by iamironman


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BONUS ROUND! Ear stretching:
First and foremost, NEVER SKIP A SINGLE SIZE. Skipping sizes, no matter what method you use can easily lead to blowouts, which is where the inside of the fistula gets pushed out the back. This is painful and can lead to all sorts of problems, including but not limited to hypertrophic scarring, which can prevent you from stretching further, and also is very unsightly and gross.

Stretching your ear is not a simple process, and certainly is not a fast one. It is not a race. Once you stretch, treat your ear like a new piercing, which includes the sea salt soaks, even if it feels totally fine. Stretching can cause micro-tears that cannot be seen by the naked eye, but are big enough to allow in bacteria.

Though extremely controversial, at smaller sizes tapers will be recommend by some piercers. However, only a specific kind. They should be long, steel, concave back tapers. Do not use these past a 2 gauge, however, as the 2g-0g jump is the first 2mm stretch, and is just too much for a taper. When using tapers, try as hard as you can to go to a reputable piercer and have them stretch it for you. Most will do a free or very cheap stretch provided you purchase the jewelry from them. It is not recommended to use tapers yourself, but since most do, it is best to know how to do it(though do not take this as me encouraging self tapering!).

First, take out whatever size jewelry you have and take a hot shower. This will loosen up the tissue and make it more stretchy. After the shower, take either vitamin E oil, jojoba oil, or emu oil(they all work fine, just personal preference). Some people will swear by Holy Butt'r also. Massage the oil into your lobes for a couple minutes to soften them even more. Make sure that your ears get proper bloodflow when you massage them.

Once you complete the massage, lube the taper very generously with oil. Do not use any petroleum based products or ointments such as Neosporen. Place the smaller end through the hole, and very slowly start to push it through. Do not twist it. You may feel a pit of pressure, but should you start experiencing severe pain, immediately stop and try again in the future. If it starts to bleed, downsize(If you are at a 4g, put in a 6g plug or eyelet). Also NEVER under any circumstance should the taper be worn as jewelry. It is unevenly weighted and can cause the fistula to shift some in the healing process. It's a tool, not an earring.

Another method, and one of the best is using tape. The tape you use needs to be one of two kinds, PTFE(teflon) tape, or bondage tape. Though bondage tape is preferred by many, it is harder to find and considerably more expensive. However, one roll of bondage tape should be enough to last you forever.

When taping, take either a single flare or no flare plug(no flare is the best), and wrap 1-2 wraps of tape around it, ensuring that there are no wrinkles or creases in the tape. Lube your ear and plug with one of the earlier mentioned oils and slowly start to insert the plug as you normally would. Do this every 2-4 weeks. And remember, just because there is a gap bigger than the plug with tape does NOT mean that you should just add more. Be patient.

The final method(please notice I did not mention weights or silicone eyelets!!!) is natural stretching. Natural stretching is where you just wait long enough for your ear to get loose to the point where you can put the next size in. It is recommended to find in between sizes of you do this, so if you are going from 3/4" to 7/8", find a 13/16" plug, for example. This is much more difficult as smaller sizes. There really isn't a specific time frame on natural stretching, provided you do wait at least a few months, though the longer you wait, the easier and safer it will be. A good way to help the process or natural stretching is to wear slightly heavier jewelry after your ear has healed from the previous stretch. By heavy I do not mean the use of weights, as they are a terrible method for stretching. Wearing stone or solid glass plugs can help this.

Post edited at 10:58 am on Dec. 24, 2013 by iamironman


10:48 am on Dec. 24, 2013 | Joined: Oct. 2004 | Days Active: 2,237
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omnomnom


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Oh this topic again

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HEY DAVID and ALL MODS!!!!

5:19 pm on Dec. 29, 2013 | Joined: Mar. 2010 | Days Active: 424
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excellent topic :)

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Sometimes love is not enough, and the road gets tough
I don't know why..

7:02 pm on Dec. 29, 2013 | Joined: June 2008 | Days Active: 1,044
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Quote: from omnomnom at 5:19 pm on Dec. 29, 2013

Oh this topic again

I've yet to see a topic that covers anywhere close to what is covered here.


12:52 am on Dec. 30, 2013 | Joined: Oct. 2004 | Days Active: 2,237
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Quote: from HunnyB at 7:02 pm on Dec. 29, 2013

excellent topic :)


Thank you! I put a lot of work into it.


12:52 am on Dec. 30, 2013 | Joined: Oct. 2004 | Days Active: 2,237
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pretty useful
thinking of getting my tongue pierced so ill prolly refer to this in time lol

11:46 am on Dec. 30, 2013 | Joined: May 2008 | Days Active: 614
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