What you need to know before your first piercing: interview guide for beginners

Even if it may seem superficial, having your body pierced is not just anything: it involves several precautions, having certain knowledge and then a lot of rigor to maintain it. Two dermatologists give their advice so that this pretty accessory does not become a problem.

A piercing —or pirsine— is defined by the RAE as a piercing done “in a part of the body other than the lobe of the ear, to insert earrings, hoop earrings or other ornaments”. What the Royal Academy of Language does not say, although it may also be part of its definition, is that these interventions always have a distinctive spirit, a desire to attract attention – whether from parents or peers – and to provoke a curious look at their bodies. .

However, it’s not just about going in and getting drilled like crazy. To do this without undesirable consequences requires rigorous discipline. Otherwise, it is easy for unfortunate events to occur, some of which may border on the unusual.

As in the case of Joey Lykins, a 35-year-old American who one night noticed that his septum – as the piercing in the middle of his nose is called – had suddenly disappeared. He returned to his house looking for him and never found him. But no major problem arose and he decided to change it for another one. Five years later, he woke up again at night, but this time with a bad cough that wouldn’t stop.

“I felt something block my airways and I thought I was sick,” he said in a interview . He came to think he had pneumonia and for this reason he rushed to the emergency room. To find out what he had, they took a chest x-ray and the mystery was revealed: his old piercing was found floating in one of his lungs. Three days later, he suffered a bronchoscopy to remove the septum, a situation which fortunately proved successful, as it failed to puncture the respiratory organ.

Although this is an isolated case, it is important to know that strange things like these – and other more common ones, such as infections, wounds or tears – can happen with piercings. To avoid accidents, we asked two specialists about the basic care and precautions everyone should take before and after getting their body pierced.

What are the risks of getting a piercing?

According to Andrés Lehman, a dermatologist at Clínica Dávila, getting a piercing poses certain dangers. Partly because “they represent a wound in the skin and therefore there may be consequences”, such as “infections, allergies to metallic materials, medium or long-term keloids in the injured areas, or there may also be a type of injury called telangiectatic granuloma, which is impaired healing,” he says.

Carmen Gloria Fuentes, dermatologist at Clínica Ciudad del Mar, adds that after a poorly done perforation “a blood vessel can be punctured and bleeding can occur”. There is also a risk of transmission of viral diseases such as HIV or hepatitis if the procedure is performed with contaminated instruments that are not sterilized or shared with others.

For these reasons, any piercing -whether for a traditional ring or for a piercing in another part of the body- must be done yes or yes in an “establishment approved by the health authority, in addition to having measures of cleaning and asepsis, in addition to proper equipment when performing the procedure,” says Lehman, such as surgical gloves.

Fuentes also insists on making sure the piercing is “ideally in a sealed container, which ensures it hasn’t been used before.” While there are liquids that can sterilize materials, it “requires exposure to those chemicals for some time.” To be sure, always go for a new product.

What happens if the piercing becomes infected?

Once you get the piercing, you may have the misfortune that within a few hours or days an infection will appear in the area of ​​the piercing. According to Lehman, this can be as much due to poor technique — or the use of unsterile instruments — as it is to inadequate follow-up. Whether for one, the other or both, the doctor warns that in case of suspicion of infection it is necessary to go immediately to a health center.

One way to prevent infection is to examine the condition of the skin at the time of the piercing. “The area should be healthy, without irritation or redness,” says the Clínica Dávila dermatologist. If you poke into a damaged, injured, or irritated area, you have a much better chance of getting infected.

How long does it take to heal?

Not all piercings take the same number of days to heal. It mainly depends on the area in which the puncture was made, because not all the body has the same speed or capacity for regeneration. But whatever the area, during the first two months, avoid prolonged baths – especially in the pool – and be very rigorous in your care.

The first thing is to avoid touching it, but if it is necessary to handle it, always do it with clean hands, use special products if you have to clean it and keep the area always dry and as ventilated as possible . It is also not recommended to wear very tight clothes in these parts and not to use makeup, creams or products that can interfere with healing.

These are the approximate healing times for the most common areas of the body to be pierced.

  • Ear lobe : 6 to 8 weeks.
  • Eyebrow: 6 to 8 weeks. The area between the eyebrows usually takes longer to heal than the sides of the eyebrow.
  • Nasal cavity: 6 to 8 weeks. The septum generally takes less time and the nasal bridge generally takes a little longer than the cartilage.
  • Navel and belly: 2 months to 1 year (varies from person to person).
  • Lips and contour: 4 to 5 weeks.
  • Language: 4 weeks.
  • Oral apparatus (upper and lower lip): from a month, although they usually take less.

Once the piercing has healed, “it’s important to take care of the skin where the piercing was done, using cleansers like syndet,” says Lehman. This term corresponds to the acronym in English of synthetic detergent in English, and refers to cosmetic soaps made with synthetic surfactant detergents.

A syndet soap or cleanser are products with soft raw materials that respect the lipid layer of the skin and prevent it from being damaged by daily use. These products are generally suggested for sensitive skin prone to irritation, but are recommended for anyone undergoing a procedure such as a piercing. The dermatologist also points out that it is positive to “hydrate with the right cream, to keep the area in good condition”.

Eucerin Syndet Gel Soap Ph5 400ml

If the skin has healed but in a traumatic way – with scabs, tears or pain – Fuentes says it should be treated “like any other wound”. That is, keep it clean and use healing creams. Now, if the poor healing is due to an allergy to the material of the piercing, then a medical opinion is necessary.

What part of the body should not be pierced?

As Lehman shares, “all areas of the body are susceptible to complications.” However, those with whom you have to be more careful are still those with mucous membranes, which he advises not to pierce. We’re talking about surfaces inside the mouth, nose, or genital area because “these are at a higher risk of complications.”

In one Article by Andrea Cárdenas (pediatric dentist) and Maite Souyet (periodontist), both from the School of Dentistry of the Pontificia Universidad Católica, mention the following risks associated with piercings in different parts of the mouth, such as lips, tongue or the cheeks:

  • Fractures, cracks, erosions and detachment of tooth enamel.
  • Risk of infection, edema or inflammation at the time of its placement, which can become serious due to its proximity to living spaces.
  • Gingival recessions caused by the continuous erosion produced by the ring on the gum.
  • Gingivitis —or gum disease—because the same piercing could, in some cases, lead to a greater accumulation of bacterial plaque.
  • Allergies to materials used in the making of the piercing.
  • Risk of airway obstruction or foreign body inhalation.
  • Risk of damage to the gastrointestinal mucosa if swallowed

As for the ears, Fuentes mentions the cartilaginous area, “because they present a risk of serious infection. There are patients who have lost their ears for this reason”, he assures. Another area that he advises against is that near the neckline, on the chest, and also on the shoulders, because there “there is more risk of keloids”

The safest area? Where traditionally piercings for hoop earrings, earrings or pendants have been practiced – and continue to be done -: “the soft part of the earlobe”, because “it involves much less risk”.

Which material is the safest?

Although the use of a piercing is experienced as something spontaneous and young, the choice of jewelry to shine cannot be improvised. Lehman recommends turning to surgical steel, gold, or silver, materials that “will have less reaction than fancy products.”

For those who are allergic to nickel, “it’s best if they only use gold”, although they can sometimes tolerate surgical steel”.

Other Recommendations

Watch out for keloids

According to the Clinica Dávila dermatologist, it is common for keloids to appear in areas where piercings are used. To avoid them, “it is good to see if you have any of these lesions in other areas of the body”. The most typical is the shoulder: if where you were vaccinated you remain inflamed forever, it is likely that something similar will happen to you with a piercing.

Don’t Drill Until It’s Your Own Decision

Many fathers and mothers often pierce their daughters’ ears in the first days of life. Against this, Lehman says that “piercing a child’s ears is painful. Therefore, the most appropriate option for the times would be to wait for everyone to do it voluntarily”. According to his medical opinion, “it is reasonable to expect children to do this when they wish”.

Bad healing? better not

If when you hit, scratch or cut a body part it takes several days to heal or you generally have marks on your skin, then piercings are not your thing. At least that is what Fuentes suggests, because with this context “it is likely that a keloid could be made in the area or it could become infected, leaving unsightly sequelae and a lot of discomfort”. Instead of adding style or personality to your body, the only thing it will add is trouble.

*Prices for products in this item are current as of September 26, 2022. Values ​​and availability may change.

Source: Latercera

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