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Body Piercing: The Hole Truth

Posted Nov 01 2007 12:00am


What you should know before you pierce
By Katie Papo

Walking down the street, it’s nearly impossible to go without seeing at least one person with a body piercing. Maybe you’ve even thought about getting one yourself. If you do think you have a perfect place to pierce, make sure you know the health risks before setting foot into a shop.
Lobe | Cartilage | Ear (Other) | Nose | Eyebrow | Tongue | Naval | Clitoris | Prince Albert
While all piercings go through the healing process, a white discharge is normal. If you think you might have an infection, look out for these symptoms: pain, swelling, redness, yellow discharge, and inflammation. If any of these symptoms occur, do not remove the jewelry (or the hole will close up, trapping bacteria inside your body). See a doctor or your piercer for advice.

Also, if done improperly, certain piercings can puncture or pinch nerves, which could cause serious injury. Be sure to protect your body by going to a trained professional.

So whether you’re looking for a barbell in your bellybutton or titanium in your tongue, make sure you go to a parlor with a clean and sterile environment, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Finally, enjoy your new look. Happy piercing!

Time to Heal: 6 to 8 weeks.
Tip: Make sure to wash the area daily with soap. Pat them dry thoroughly before applying isopropyl alcohol on both sides of the lobe using a Q-tip.
Risks: Avoid wearing dangling earrings while playing sports. If your earring gets caught on something, it could tear through your earlobe.

Time to Heal: 6 weeks to 1 year.
Tip: Care is the same as for earlobes, but cartilage piercings are more prone to infection. Using an antibiotic ointment for the first week or two can ease the healing process. Also, if you sleep on your side, try not to sleep on your newly pierced ear.
Risks: Avoid bacterial infection by wearing only gold earrings first. Some people are allergic to certain metals, and gold is the safest.

Tip: Piercings in other parts of the ear, such as the tragus, rook, or orbital, take longer to heal and require more intensive care. Make sure you ask your piercer for all the details before he breaks out the needle.

Time to Heal: 2 to 4 months.
Tip: Some piercers will offer to pierce your nostril with either a gun or needle. Opt for the needle. Piercing guns cannot be sterilized and should not be used for body piercings.
Risks: The nostril is one of the safer places to get a piercing. Make sure you are cleaning it properly with a saline solution and antibacterial soap and there should not be any problems. And be careful when you blow your nose!

Time to Heal: 6 to 8 weeks.
Tip: The most important thing to keep in mind while your eyebrow piercing is healing is to keep your hands and face clean with antibacterial soap. Avoid using alcohol, because it can dry out the hole.
Risks: Eyebrow piercings are often problematic because of the hair follicles surrounding them. Dirt from those follicles and pores can sometimes get into the hole and infect the piercing. Wearing eye make-up can also be risky, as it can also infect the piercing.

Time to Heal: 3 to 6 weeks.
Tip: Make sure you use mouthwash, avoid drinking alcohol, and steer clear of spicy foods until your tongue is healed. No open-mouth kissing either!
Risks: Dentists point out health-related risks, such as fractures or cracks in teeth (from when the jewelry makes contact with them). Other risks include loss of taste, gum injury, and oral hygiene problems.

Time to Heal: 4 months to 1 year.
Tip: Because this area is prone to infection, make sure you invest in surgical stainless steel, 14K gold, or titanium jewelry. Each day it heals, make sure you soak the area in warm water before rotating the jewelry. It is also a good idea to wear loose fitting clothes for the first week or two to avoid infection.
Risks: Naval piercings have one of the highest infection rates, which is always something to keep in mind. Also, as you grow, there is a chance that your body might push it out, which could leave a scar.

Though there are a variety of genital piercing styles available, the most popular ones are through the clitoris or the hood.

Time to Heal: 4 to 6 weeks.
Tip: The clitoris is not always an advisable part of the body to pierce, mainly because it is so sensitive. Only pierce it horizontally, unless you are piercing the hooded part of your clitoris, in which case you can pierce it either horizontally or vertically. Before you make your decision, ask your piercer for his or her professional opinion. Often times, a clitoral hood piercing is much safer.
Risks: Make sure you don’t let anything touch your new piercing, unless it is antibacterial soap. Avoid letting it come into contact with any non-vaginal bodily fluids, including saliva and semen. Anything that touches your piercing should be clean, or else you are setting yourself up for infection.

Like women, men also have several options for genital piercings. However, the most popular one (and the one frequently considered the most sexually appealing) is the Prince Albert.

Time to Heal: 2-4 months.
Tip: Condoms should be worn during sexual activity during the entire healing process, and abstinence is recommended for one week. Don’t worry about cleaning the piercing after urination — urine is sterile and helps the healing process.
Risks: There are not many complications involved with the Prince Albert. Like any other piercing, there is a chance that the body will reject the jewelry, but that chance is minimal.

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