I'm about to get pierced... But what should I wear while I'm healing?
Knowing how to select jewelry for your first piercing can be difficult. Even if you already have a piercing, the act of picking the correct size/material for a new, fresh body mod can be intimidating. Materials, gauges, rise, thicknesses... These factors can all add to that sense of confusion. With so many options, how can you know what's best for your new piercing?
Consider this: a piercing is literally an open wound. By getting a piercing, you are exposing your unhealed internal tissues to a foreign body (aka your body jewelry). While healing, It is imperative that you select jewelry that will work effectively and symbiotically with your body's natural healing process. Choosing the right jewelry will be the first step in keeping you safe and infection free.
Safety first. Aesthetics second.
Be patient. Think about your piercing in the long term. Yes, it's exciting to be freshly pierced, but a healthy and healed piercing is a much better investment than swapping out your jewelry too soon due to a burst of impatience.
While you are healing, put aside the aesthetic qualities of the jewelry that you're wearing in your new piercing. Instead, work with your professional piercer to consider these factors:
Size - Everybody's body is different, so every piercing experience will require a bit of customization and specialization. Nipples, navels, lips, and noses come in all sorts of different sizes. Thus, a different diameter, length, or rise should be used to suit each individual.
Jewelry that is too tight to the body won't allow room for normal swelling or the expulsion of natural fluids. It can also prevent oxygen from reaching the piercing or become embedded inside the piercing, which would be catastrophic to the integral part of the healing process. Jewelry that is too large increases your risk of snags, which can also cause unnecessary trauma. You and your piercer should work together to choose an appropriate sized jewelry that fits your personal anatomy.
Gauge - Gauge refers to the thickness of the jewelry in question. Appropriate gauge will different from person to person, but jewelry that is too small might migrate or reject. Jewelry that is too thick might be better achieved via stretching, as opposed to an initial jewelry choice. What's more, certain piercings are better suited to heal with hoops, barbells, or studs. Trust your piercer to use a gauge that's appropriate for the piercing in question.
Style - An initial piercing isn't the time to choose a cute dangle industrial or a nipple barbell with chains. While it's exciting to be freshly modded, its important to choose something no-frills (think a plain stainless steel barbell or bioplast retainer) while you are healing. Never remove your initial piercing jewelry before the recommended healing time has passed.
Material - when choosing a material for your jewelry, try to keep the following guidelines in mind:
- it should be able to be sterilized in an autoclave
- it should be "inert" and otherwise biocompatible (it won't cause irritation, pain, or infection).
The following materials are typically good for an initial piercing:
- Surgical Steel - surgical steel comes in many different alloys - have a discussion with your piercer before you use this material if you are concerned with metal sensitivity.
- Titanium - Titanium is especially inert, which makes it a great option for individuals with nickel sensitivities. It can also be anodized to different colors, which will not affect the healing process of your new piercing.
- Gold - Gold is acceptable with a few exceptions. Make sure you are wearing yellow or white gold with at least 14k or 18k gold, as any higher number can scratch or nick and thus harbor bacteria. Avoid any other alloys or anything "plated" - as this isn't truly gold and the coating can wear off.
- Platinum - Platinum is another excellent choice... But it's very expensive and rare
- Bioplast - You might be surprised to learn that bioplast can be sterilized in the high heat of an autoclave! This plastic was specifically made for piercings and is an incredible biocompatible material, especially for individuals who are trying to avoid metal.
- Glass - Obsidian (natural glass) has been used as a piercing material for literally thousands of years. Glass is inert, which makes it a great material for any piercing.