The Ins and Outs of Jewelry Threading
The difference between internal and external threading and why it matters
Whether you have piercings or have just been reading about them, there's no doubt you've come across the term "threading." What is external threading? What is internal threading? Why do people have such strong opinions about them? And why is some jewelry referred to as "threadless?"
What does it all mean?!
Take a deep breath and relax - Body Candy has your back. We're going to explain threading - what it is, why it matters, and which kinds might be better for your specific piercings. Whether you're rocking a beautiful belly button ring or some amazing nipple barbells, you'll know next time you pick out some body jewelry what kind of threading suits you best.
What is "Threading?"
If you take the ball ends off of a standard straight barbell, you'll notice that they screw on and off of the barbell. Once you have the ball off, you'll notice one of two things:
1.) The barbell will have a small stem extending from it
2.) The ball end will have a small stem extending from it
Either way, that stem will screw into an opening on the receiving side of the jewelry; either the stem on the ball end will screw into an opening in the end of the barbell, or the barbell has a small stem extending from it that screws into an opening in the ball end. That is the "threading" you've been hearing so much about.
Internal, External, and Threadless
If the stem is on the ball end, that means that piece of body jewelry is "internally threaded" - in other words, the threading is inside (internal) of the barbell.
If the stem is on the barbell, that means that piece of body jewelry is "exernally threaded" - in other words, the threading is outside (external) of the barbell.
If you're having a hard time distinguishing between the two - try to think about defining the jewelry based on the barbell's attributes. If the barbell is being screwed into, it is an internally threaded piece of jewelry. If the barbell screws into the ball end, it is externally threaded.
Another style of jewelry is known as "threadless jewelry" and can also be referred to as "press fit jewelry." It features a smooth stem that simply pushes into an opening in the bar (no screwing involved; threadless). This jewelry has an added benefit of being able to adjust how tightly the ball end fits by slightly bending the stem.
Why Does Threading Matter?
Try to imagine what the inside of your piercing looks like - an unhealed piercing is basically a tunnel in your flesh (also known as a "fistula") that's lined with raw tissue. Now think about inserting a piece of jewelry into that tunnel - would you rather push a smooth piece of jewelry through, or a piece of jewelry with a screw end?
Even if your piercing is fully healed, the rough texture of the external threading can potentially injure or irritate the lining of the fistula. If your piercing isn't fully healed (and it really should be if you're changing your jewelry, it really ought to be), the rough texture of the threading can actually extend the healing time by re-injuring tissue that had begun to heal. Internally threaded jewelry is what the Association of Professional Piercers recommends for use in an initial piercing.
Another reason why threading matters is security. Internally threaded jewelry should ideally have five threads instead of three. It will also have something called a "countersink" in the ball ends. This allows them to slide over the barbell and grip onto it when tightened, making for an extremely secure fit.
Finally, there's style. Flat disc ends and solid gem ends can not be used with externally threaded jewelry. So if those are the styles you prefer, you won't have to choose whether or not you want external threading.
If the entire debate seems a bit overwhelming, there are tons of styles of body jewelry that don't require threading at all. Captive bead rings, segment rings, septum clickers, septum retainers, plugs, and nose hoops all lack threading and can be worn inside a vast percentage of piercings.
So externally threaded, internally threaded, or no threading at all, you've got tons of options for having a piercing that feels as good as it looks!
Written by: Alyssa Walter