Body Piercing – Getting Pierced and Taking Care of It
The concept of body piercing as quirky and rebellious style statements has been around for a long time now. It began with tribal’s using it as a characteristic style of adornment. Today, body piercing is a booming industry. Piercing studios are mushrooming thick and fast in big cities like Delhi and Mumbai, and youngsters are especially attracted to this.
I have a total of nine piercings on myself – three in each ear, one eyebrow, one nose and one lip piercing. Oh, I love them! Here are pictures of me with piercings. (Sorry, the quality is not great, clicked with camera phone!):
Lip piercing Eyebrow, nose, ear piercings
Getting Pierced for the First Time: Considerations:
1. Though this is not as permanent as a tattoo, it’s not really ‘temporary’ either. Many piercings close and their traces vanish if you remove the jewellery, but that also depends of the healing and scar covering qualities of your individual skin type. So don’t do it if you think you might regret it.
Since you will not be removing your jewellery again and again for risk of closure, it is pretty much a permanent look that you must be comfortable wearing.
2. Your professional environment may not permit you to wear visible body piercings. Many companies have rules regarding the standard appearance of their employees. In such cases, you avoid the more daring piercings and opt for something like a navel piercing that won’t show.
3. Your social environment may make you uncomfortable. Many of us don’t like to be the odd one out in a group. If you move in circles bound by traditional mindset, think again. Your family, relatives and friends are people who may express strong opinions about your pierced look. If you live in a non-metropolitan city, be prepared for folks turning around and staring at you, or even stopping you to ask a question. Go for it only if you can handle their curiosity and reactions well.
4. Remember that a piercing needs lifelong care, otherwise there is risk of scars and infection. You will need to be prepared for the effort in maintaining your piercing.
How to Go About It
1. Ask experienced friends to recommend a good piercing expert. Check out 3-4 studios instead of rushing to the nearest one. Meet the expert, talk, ask him your queries, and choose be satisfied and comfortable with the expert and the cleanliness of the studio.
2. Take an appointment well in advance.
3. Take a supportive and calm friend or family member along with you.
4. Do not go on an empty stomach. You may feel light-headed. Have a sweet beverage before your piercing for some extra carbs to keep you perked up. Ideally your last meal should be light and two hours before your appointment. Don’t eat just before the appointment in case you feel queasy.
5. Choose your jewellery carefully. Go for something simple, you can always change it when the piercing heals. If you opt for barbell type, then make sure the rod is long enough to allow room for a little initial swelling. If you choose a ring, see that it is big enough to accommodate some swelling and movement. Whatever your choose, its design and size should not sit too snugly around the skin; there should be space for air and easy movement of the jewellery.
Barbell Type Ring Type
In case of a lip piercing, always choose a barbell with a long rod as the first time jewellery. A ring somehow does not heal as well and tends to cut through the skin. You can change over to ring or a spike after 3 months.
6. Check that the person who does your piercing sterilizes his hands and your jewellery before beginning. He should use a fresh pair of surgical gloves and open a new sealed pack disposable piercing needle.
7. The site of the proposed piercing should be cleaned with spirit and the exact point where the needle will make the hole should be marked with a pen and shown to you for approval first.
8. If the room has mirrors all around as many piercing studios do, try not to look if you fear that it will freak you out.
9. Expect pain and a little blood! The initial pain is the worst and it gets over as soon as the jewellery is inside. A skilled hand can do this in less than a minute.
1. Your piercing studio will give you a complete briefing on how to care for your piercing. They should also provide you with a sachet of rock salt and maybe some calendula oil.
2. A little swelling is normal. This should subside within three to six hours. A lip piercing takes a little longer than that, maybe a day.
3. Your piercing is a cut/wound that needs to heal. Help it by keeping it clean to avoid infection. Use rock salt and warm water to make a concentrated solution. Dip a Q-tip in this and clean the piercing five or six times a day, taking care to gently remove any crusts that form around the jewellery.
4. Twice a day you may put a pinch of turmeric dissolved in calendula oil to speed up healing, though I have not found this necessary in personal experience.
5. In case of an eyebrow piercing, you may get your eyebrows threaded as usual after one month without needing to take out the jewellery. Just ask the person at the salon to go gently over that part. An occasional drop of blood while threading is not something to faint over – it’s normal. Before the first month it would be better to use a pair of tweezers to selectively shape your brows leaving the portion where the piercing is.
The Risk of Scars: From Personal Experience
The first 3 months you have to take extra care to not let your piercing get hit or pulled when you undress, comb your hair, sleep, bathe or wash your face. This is because you’re not used to it being there, you will forget and accidently it may get pulled.
I have a long scar across my eyebrow from a previous piercing that I lost because I didn’t care for it well. Whenever I would comb my hair, it would catch in my comb and get tugged because I forgot it was there. If I pulled off a sweater, it would get caught. Sometimes, I’d brush my hands over my face forgetfully and hit the piercing.
The sign that a piercing is getting spoilt is that the amount of skin holding up the jewellery reduces, and more of the jewellery gets exposed. You know you are about to lose your piercing when the barbell or ring starts to dangle or hang onto a very fine piece of skin and feels too heavy for it. Take out the piercing before this happens or it will leave a permanent scar on healing.
In Case of Infection
1. If your piercing gets infected, that is, within the first two weeks or anytime in your life, here is what you do first. Show it at the place where you got the piercing done and follow their advice.
2. You should NOT listen to anybody who tells you to take out the jewellery. I have had a very smart doctor tell me so when mine have got infected, and I must say that that is VERY bad advice. If you take out the jewellery when the piercing if infected then the skin will collapse around the hole, trapping the pus inside with no room for drainage. This can be very dangerous indeed and make it septic. If an infection causes you to get fed up of your piercing, have patience till you cure it completely before you throw it out.
3. I have always managed to easily clear up infections by following the usual clean up routine with a Q-tip dipped in warm saline water several times a day. If you apply the Q-tip with a little pressure and use the solution at the maximum temperature you can comfortably bear, then the swelling will subside and the pus will dry out quickly. Don’t put antiseptic creams or any oils at this time. There is one ayurvedic oil called ‘Noorani Tel’ available at any local chemist, you can apply that after carefully cleaning it. Turmeric powder also helps.
4. People like to freak out when a piercing gets infected, but I have found that this is usually not such a big deal and is easily taken care of. So don’t panic and listen to folks who seize this opportunity to tell you that they told you so and it serves you right.
So what are you waiting for? Go be a punk!!!
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