Piercing – A Modern Art Form

If you think piercing is just a quick grab and poke, there’s actually a lot more to it than you think. You see people with piercings everywhere, on TV, walking down the street, at the coffee shop and countless other places. What’s the deal with this, do they like that there are unnatural things hanging off of them? For those who don’t understand the world of piercing, what is this whole thing about and what makes these people want to mutilate their own bodies? In fact, of Americans ages 21 to 32 close to 50% have a piercing or tattoo in a place other than the ear, from to a 2006 survey by researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. According to Clinical Nursing Research, in a 2001 study it stated that 62% of individuals pierce themselves to express individuality. Some might call it an underground club for those brave souls who seemingly worship the art form that piercing really is.

Types of Piercing
Anyone looking for a piercing has a lot to consider when initially deciding to get pierced. Where will this piercing go? The classic placement for a piercing seems to be in the ear lobe. However, there are seemingly countless varieties of placement to consider and every day someone somewhere seems to push the envelope to develop a new placement. Just a brief rundown of what can be pierced is the ear, tongue, cheek, nose, eyebrow, lip, belly button, genital and nipple. Any one of the items listed previously have a number of different locations, for instance, the ear can be pierced in the lobe, tragus, anti-tragus or what’s called industrial, which is a bar running the length of the ear top to bottom. In addition, there are twelve more placements in the ear alone. The ear is not alone in the vast placements of piercing. A surface piercing, such as the eyebrow, has several additional recommended placements.

Picking Out Jewelry
Once the placement of a new piercing is decided upon the next big decision to make is the kind of jewelry that will fill that fresh hole in the skin. Jewelry can be made out of a variety of material. Metal is the most popular, but there are many different things to consider when selecting a metal piece of jewelry. Many people cannot wear gold due to skin irritations. Of the different kinds of metal, stainless steel and titanium can be used. Plastic is also a popular choice of jewelry, the variety and ease of design make plastic jewelry imaginative. If a night out on the town is in order, you can put in a hot pink colored piece of jewelry. Maybe the Steeler fan will wear festive black and gold colored jewelry.
Now that the main points of the types of jewelry available are understood it can be pointed out that some types of jewelry, like mentioned with gold, can cause adverse effects. Nickel free jewelry, like titanium, is a recommendation high on the list of some piercers. A person can live life without knowing that they have a nickel or sterling silver allergy. So nickel free jewelry can provide assurance that the allergy wouldn’t be found out the hard way.

Piercing Tools Available
The tools needed to pierce aren’t extensive. In fact, all that is really needed is a needle and your own hand or a clamp. The needle mentioned is a hollow needle ranging in size from a small 18 gauge all the way up to 8 gauge. The needle is hollow in order to have the jewelry selected sitting in the opening of the needle. It is much more sanitary to stick one needle in and leave a bar behind, rather than stick a needle in, pull that out and then stick the bar in. Other tools used are opener and closers, which are designed for the closed circular jewelry. The jewelry can be damaged if it is tried to open or close the jewelry by hand. One last thing you can consider a tool of piercing is nitrile gloves. Nitrile gloves are preferred due to the extra protection over latex that nitrile gives you.

Considerations About Piercings
When going to get a piercing, there are certain things and minimum care taken that everyone should expect to see. All tools should be sterilized in an autoclave, a machine that cycles high heat and moisture on and off to kill all bacteria on the tool. When the piercing studio reuses instruments, in most cases, the person getting pierced should see the tools taken out of the autoclave. Sadly, something commonly seen is the use of antibacterial liquid. It is very strongly advised that a piercing be immediately stopped if you see the tools removed from liquid prior to use. The antibacterial liquid doesn’t kill everything that needs to be killed before use and the frequency that the liquid is changed can cause a spread of bacteria in and by itself. Big concerns in the piercing industry are blood borne pathogens, such as hepatitis and HIV among others. It is recommended that piercers go through six hours annually of OSHA training on blood borne pathogens. Other important considerations when deciding to get a piercing is what your medical history is because there may be various medications you need. It used to be the standard to not pierce anyone with a pre-existing heart condition without the consent of a doctor and a prescription for an antibiotic.

Procedure Overview
If it will be the first piercing you decide to get, it can seem like a whirlwind to some. When arriving at the piercing studio the very first thing that will be asked is for your identification. Minors can get piercings but less than sixteen years of age you’ll need to produce a birth certificate and up until age eighteen a parent needs to sign off on the piercing. Now the studio has proven you are of legal age and allowed the get the piercing. Next the placement will be checked. Since the placement is irreversible, it will be clearly marked with a marker and showed to you. Once you agree and sign off that the piercing is supposed to go where it is marked, you can pick jewelry. No jewelry has been picked to this point because some piercings require the use of a particular type of jewelry to be functional. Afterwards, the piercer will clean their station and prepare the tools needed to complete the piercing. When the piercing is finished, you will remain in the chair for a few minutes. The studio should provide you with something light to ingest, such as pixie sticks or juice. That is all there is to a basic piercing.

After the piercing the area will feel hot and become red because a needle had just gone through your skin. It is recommended to closely watch the pierced area for any changes or any signs of infection. No infection should be treated as minor; in fact, some infections can spread inward and effect the brain. Avoid playing with and touching your new piercing for at least a week. The pierced area should be washed three times daily and a follow up visit to the piercing studio should be scheduled for the piercer to check that everything is healed correctly.

There are many reasons people decide to get pierced, pure amusement, religious purposes or aesthetic reasons. With the right tools and training your piercer knows what’s best for your situation. From jewelry to placement, the piercer has been there before and knows what may happen. Don’t forget that a clean piercing studio is a happy and safe one and that’s one fact that should not be overlooked. Missing something in the cleanliness department can lead to serious health risks. The risks of infection and rejection can be minimized with the right after care and your piercing experience will be a delightful one.