That’s a question I get asked all the time, or in another roundabout way I get told ‘my piercing is (or was) infected’ when it wouldn’t have been at all – if you took out jewellery and the ‘infection’ went away it wasn’t infected at all.
So basically, I will outline here some of the reasons why your piercing might have been sore, created puss or just didn’t heal in general. While also assuming that it was done with a needle not a gun. If it was done with a gun then that’s why its messed up (see my other blog posts for info on why piercing guns cause problems). I will also write this assuming that you have cleaned and taken care of your piercing as advised. If you didn’t clean your piercing or if you slept on it or hit it a lot then that most certainly will cause issues.
The most commonly pierced area is the ear so I’ll focus on these piercings first. Say you get your helix/tragus/lobe pierced, the jewellery that’s put in when pierced should have been quite long, this is what we’ll call a swell bar, this is as the name suggests – should only be left in until the swelling has gone down and the piercing is fully healed, after this period the swell bar will be too long and susceptible to being hit off a lot due to the length of the bar. So if you have the bar you got pierced with in for months or years you really need to change it down to prevent further irritation to your piercing.
The most important part for when you do change the bar, please, please, please do not put cheap quality metals in your piercings. Now I don’t mean cheap in price, some accessories shops sell absolute pure scrap metal for high enough prices just because they ‘look pretty’.
The most commonly used metals in accessory shop earrings are stainless steel and copper, imagine that. Neither of those are meant to be under your skin at all, let alone be in a piercing for long periods of time.
Gold and silver are obviously very expensive (due to their rarity) so not many people do get them for their ears, but it is worth noting that both these metals have a very high content of nickel in them. This means though they are expensive they are not the best metal for long term use; especially as over half the population of western Europe has an allergy to nickel. In gold anything above 24 carat contains far less nickel, but because of its soft compound it can be scratched during its fabrication so do be careful with genuine gold jewellery, but definitely stay clear of gold plated, this is literally cheap steel coated very thinly in gold (2 metals full of nickel).
We stock nothing but surgical steel and titanium here in Be Pierced which is all that is recommended for long term use. Titanium being the better of the two as it has virtually no nickel, but we still highly recommend surgical steel.
The other common mistake made with jewellery can be changing the bar too early, if it’s not healed do not put a ring in it. So many people do this with nose piercings, it really drives me nuts. If you want a pretty piercing then look after it, changing it early will leave you one piercing less a few weeks down the road, PLEASE LISTEN TO THIS ADVICE. Also make sure the ring/bar that’s going into your piercing is the right size, if it is too small it will squeeze the area and lead to problems also.
I will just lightly skim over why your piercing might not have healed at all (which eagle eyed readers might have picked up on by reading the above information)
Some piercers still use steel to pierce with, but even the highest grade of surgical steel contains nickel. As I have previously mentioned half the population is allergic to nickel, but even the people who aren’t actually allergic can get irritation with their piercing if it’s in a fresh piercing, under EU regulation we, as piercers, are only allowed to use titanium to pierce people, but because piercings are still widely unregulated in Ireland and England most piercers are still cutting corners I’m afraid.
Another common thing is placement, some surface piercings have a seriously high rejection rate such as surface bars, anti-navel and anti-eyebrow piercings, these just push out over time. Please do not go to cheap piercers that don’t explain this to you/give you alternative options. These are the same piercers that will tell you to clean your piercing with antiseptic, surgical spirit or aloe vera gel. If they have pride in their work they will put you first, if not then you are burdened with trying to mind a piercing that’s never going to heal properly.
Always remember to regularly clean your piercings regardless of how long they are done, a piece of dirt or a knock at any time can set them back to square one.
All I want as a professional piercer is for everybody to enjoy their body mods with as little hassle as possible