Holier Than Thou

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Piercing

PIERCING

Body piercing involves puncturing human skin tissue to create an opening through which jewellery is worn. Historical, cultural and modern reasons behind body piercing can include religious or spiritual beliefs, aesthetic value, self-expression, rebellion and many more….  we don’t judge here!

At Holier Than Thou, we use only disposable, single-use blades or cannulated needles depending upon the procedure you are having. We only ever use medical-grade Titanium or Niobium jewellery for initial piercings, as this metal is lightweight, highly resistant to corrosion and extremely unlikely to react with body fluids and tissues. Titanium and Niobium is not magnetic (also doesn’t set off airport security scanners) and are the least likely metals to cause an allergic reaction.

We will give you the very best, honest advice we can muster in regards to the piercing you would like, your unique anatomy, and the most appropriate jewellery for the job. We want you to love your body and your new piercing, and be relaxed throughout the entire process of piercing selection, procedure, and aftercare for years to come.

PIERCING HEALING TIMES:
  • Microdermal implants – 3 months
  • Ear Lobe – 6 weeks
  • Ear Cartilage including Tragus, Anti-tragus, Upper and Lower Conch, Helix, Snug, Daith, Industrial, Rook etc – 3 to 6 Months but can take much longer. If your cartilage piercing takes over 6 months to heal please see our troubleshooting guide below for advice to speed up the process and avoid hypertrophic scarring.
  • Translobe / Transverse Lobe  – 6 months+
  • Navel - 6 Months
  • Nipple - 3-6 Months
  • Tongue - 4-6 weeks to fully heal (however the worst of the discomfort is over within the first week and the jewellery can be downsized after this time)
  • Smiley - 2 – 4 weeks
  • Frowney - 2 – 4 weeks
  • Tongue Web - 2 – 4 weeks
  • Lip / Labret - 6 weeks
  • Medusa - 6 weeks
  • Madonna - 6 weeks
  • Cheek  – 6 months+
  • Vertical or Horizontal Lip – 6 -12 weeks
  • Eyebrow – 2-3 months
  • Bridge – 3-6 months
  • Septum - 4-6 weeks
  • Nostril – 3-6 months
  • Nasallang - 6 months+
  • Septril - 2-4 months
  • Austin - 6 – 12 weeks
  • Prince Albert  – 4-6 weeks
  • Reverse Prince Albert – commonly around 8 weeks but can take up to 6 months to fully heal
  • Ampallang – 6 months+
  • Apadravya - 4-6 months+
  • Dydoe - 2-3 months
  • Frenum - Commonly around 8 weeks but can take up to 6 months or more
  • Guiche – 2-3 months
  • Foreskin – 8 weeks+
  • Lorum – 2-3 months
  • Scrotum / Hafada – 2-3 months
  • Clitoral Hood – 2 – 6 weeks
  • Inner Labia – 4-6 weeks
  • Outer Labia – 2-3 months
  • Fourchette - 2-3 months
  • Christina – 6 months+
  • Triangle – 3 months+
  • Surface Piercings including Nape, Horizontal Navel, Horizontal / Anti Eyebrow, Wrist, Surface Tragus, Madison, Chin, Vertical Bridge, Pubic, Handweb, Prayer etc. – commonly around 6 months but can take well over a year

Please note these healing times are an approximation only based upon the average healing times experienced by most clients. The rate at which your piercing may heal is affected by a variety of factors – it is nothing to be concerned about if your piercing heals much faster or slower than this guide – please get in touch if you have any queries about your healing piercing.

MICRODERMAL IMPLANTS

These are a cross between an implant and a piercing. Microdermals are a T shaped piece of jewellery, the base plate rests under the skin and a thin post protrudes through the surface – a variety of attachments can be screwed into the post. All our Microdermals are made of surgical grade titanium originally produced by specialists in the aerospace industry.

These take no longer and are no more painful than a ‘normal’ piercing, and have the added benefit of being able to be positioned almost anywhere on the body.

Microdermals are essentially surface piercings, as such there is the possibility that the body may attempt to reject them if they are exposed to stresses such as excess movement or knocks (catching a microdermal placed in the nape with a hairbrush for example!) They occupy a much smaller surface area of skin than a traditional surface bar, as such have a much higher success rate.

We call these ‘semi-permanent piercings’ but should you need your Microdermal removing, these are removed as easily as they are installed but do need to be removed by a professional. If you need to have a microdermal removed please pop into the studio – just ask!

PIERCING GUNS

Why Guns are Bad and why we do NOT use them (no, not even for earlobes…)

  1. Bloodborne disease transmission: Piercing guns cannot be autoclaved or sterilized appropriately. Aside from the day-to-day infection risk, say the gun was used on someone with Hepatitis B – the gun fires, this aerosolises the blood, the blood lands on the gun, that’s insufficiently cleaned, then used on the next person. Hepatits B lives for up to a week in dry blood outside a host. Ick.
  2. Blunt force trauma: Piercing guns force a blunt stud through your skin like a bullet wound. The scarring caused by guns is astonishing. This is bad enough in an earlobe, but in upper ear piercings it can actually separate the skin, cartilage and perichondrium (the layers in your upper ear) causing fluid to fill into the tissue, which can even cause “cauliflower ears” – this is permanent and irreversible.
  3. Pain – blasting a whole through your skin with a large blunt stud is excruciating by comparison to a swift, sharp piercing from a professional piercing needle which causes as little trauma as possible.
  4. Poor quality jewellery – Most gun piercing studs cost only around 40p per pair wholesale. This is only made possible because of the very poor quality metal they are made from (almost always ‘plated’ alloy metals) – see our materials guide as to why this is wholly inappropriate for a fresh piercing and putting your health at risk, not to mention frankly ripping you off! Medical grade Titanium and Niobium jewellery can cost in excess of £5 per piece even at wholesale – you get what you pay for.
  5. Post-piercing infection risk: The butterfly design on the back of a gun piercing stud collects blood, lymph and other secretions that will normally come out of a fresh piercing. This is very difficult to clean properly and this build up of body fluid will become a breeding ground for bacteria and presents a huge infection risk. The design also means you have to spin or twist the stud to avoid your skin growing over the butterfly – the act of spinning a piece of jewellery in a fresh piercing tears the fistula and delays healing whilst increasing scarring.
  6. Dangerous aftercare advice – offering re-sealable solutions such as “Studex” presents a huge infection risk. A solution that once opened is exposed to bacteria in the air, is then kept with you at room temperature for weeks on end – it creates a perfect breeding ground for bacteria that you are then expected to wipe on a fresh piercing.
  7. Most people do not have tiny skinny earlobes: The studs are a standard length and whilst they’re an ideal length for most healed lobes, they do not allow for initial swelling which can cause the skin to rupture and cause a host of problems, including delayed healing and increased infection risk due to it being almost impossible to clean around the piercing.
  8. Badly Uneven piercings – it is very difficult to ‘aim’ a gun accurately, the inaccuracy can be as much as 6mm depending on the gun design. It is therefore very difficult to get even piercings.
  9. Lack of piercer knowledge – most retail establishments offering gun piercings give staff just a few short hours of training. A body piercer will train for up to (and exceeding) 3 years before being considered ‘qualified’ to safely carry out piercings without the near supervision of a mentor.  Do not let someone inexperienced carry out your piercing! Not only could it mean uneven piercings as a result, lack of understanding of cross contamination could put your health or even your life at risk!
THE HTT GUIDE TO SAFE BODY PIERCING

Wherever you choose to get pierced, we care about you doing it safely! We hope the following information is helpful. Should you have any questions or concerns relating to any body piercing – whatever the cause, or whoever the practitioner – please don’t hesitate to come and see us! We’ll help if we can!

Choosing your practitioner:

  • Check that the premises AND practitioners working within the premises are all licensed with the local authority. There is no such thing as a piercing qualification, the local authority will simply grant a license if they are confident that the premises and practitioners are safe and competent to carry out body piercing.  In regards to skill – in this industry, experience is everything, ask how long your practitioner has been trading.
  • Ensure all work surfaces, couches, sinks, walls etc. have been designed so that they are easily cleaned in the event of a spill or liquid splashes.
  • Floors should be slip resistant, and carpets should be strictly forbidden in treatment rooms.
  • Check that a suitable adjustable couch/bench/chair is present in the treatment room, and check that it is wiped down with biocide after each client to eliminate the risk of cross contamination. If in doubt of this practice – ask your artist!
  • Products used for cleaning and disinfection should be chosen carefully, to ensure they thoroughly disinfect (similar to an operating theatre), but do not damage the surface or cause abrasion – which could harbor bacteria. Ask about the products used to ensure cleanliness.
  • All treatment rooms should contain a sink with hot and cold running water, to ensure the practitioner can easily wash their hands before, during and after each client as required. The taps on the treatment room sink should have a lever to enable the practitioner to turn the tap on and off with their elbows rather than their hands. Alternatively, the tap could be operated by a foot lever. Hands should be dried using paper towels – not a hand dryer.
  • A separate pair of gloves should be worn by the practitioner after opening sterile packs, cleaning and marking for the piercing, and just before the piercing procedure.  A piercer’s aseptic technique is a good indication of their general hygiene practice!
  • A separate sterilization area should be provided, which should have two separate deep sinks for the exclusive use of washing instruments and equipment. This area must be distinctly separate from the clean treatment rooms.
  • The practitioner should have a sharps bin in the treatment room.
  • Ask if the practitioner ever uses piercing ‘guns’ as this may indicate poor hygiene practices – this is because piercing guns cannot be sterilized. Don’t let anyone pierce you with a gun!
  • Ask about the studio’s policies. Most responsible body piercers will not perform any piercings on anybody under the age of 13 (for lobes) or 16 (for other areas) as the body is still growing. It is extremely questionable to perform surface, nipple or genital piercings on anybody under the age of 18.
  • Ask if the practitioner uses anaesthetics. Strictly speaking, nobody should administer anaesthetics of any kind unless they are medically trained. Aside from the questionable legal implications of administering anaesthetic before performing a piercing, some topical anesthetics applied by some body piercers are carcinogenic and most aren’t the most hygienic which can cause infection – this can also affect the blood flow to the area, which can sometimes prolong the healing process. If you choose to apply a topical anesthetic before you go to get pierced, that is up to you and would not discourage most practitioners from performing a piercing on you, however, bear in mind that it could delay the healing and cause some problems and don’t forget – part of having a piercing is the ‘ritual’ of it – the pain is over so quickly, you might just enjoy the adrenaline rush associated with a non-numbed piercing….
  • Ask what type of jewellery the practitioner uses for initial piercings. Titanium or niobium is the best industry standard, as it is a very inert metal that very few people are allergic to. Titanium is also non magnetic (and will not set off airport scanners!) whilst containing very few impurities. Implant grade surgical steel is an acceptable alternative (especially for large gauge piercing) providing you do NOT have a nickel allergy. Do not allow anybody to use gold or silver jewellery for an initial piercing – especially gold or silver plated jewellery. These metals contain an extremely high percentage of impurities, and metal plating wears down very quickly which can then harbor bacteria and presents an infection risk. Gold and silver jewellery can significantly increase healing time. Take a look at our materials guide for more info!
  • Whilst not essential, it is desirable if your practitioner has air purification systems such as Medivents or HEPA filters in place to reduce the number of airborne microorganisms which could present an airborne infection risk.

Ask about your practitioner’s Cleaning Process

Your practitioner should be more than happy to show you around the sterilization room within their premises – as long as they aren’t mad busy of course! If this is the case, they should be happy to arrange a time and date with you in order to show you the method by which they ensure the jewellery and equipment used for your piercing is absolutely sterile.

Minimum industry standard would suggest the use of a 2 stage cleaning process, which involves using an ultrasonic and an autoclave to sterilize jewellery and equipment.

If possible, a 3 stage cleaning process is much preferred. This would involve the following:

1. Cold soak

This involves soaking any re-usable items that come into close contact with client tissue, such as forceps and receival tubes.  The cold soak solution contains a chemical which kills any tissue or blood or bacteria/viruses on the equipment – essentially this stage kills, but does not physically clean. The equipment is thoroughly rinsed of all chemicals with fresh water prior to moving onto the next cleaning stage.

2. Ultrasonic

The ultrasonic contains a detergent and cleans using vibration to remove debris from equipment at the microscopic level. This process mechanically and chemically cleans the equipment. The equipment is thoroughly rinsed of all chemicals with fresh water prior to moving onto the next cleaning stage.

3. Autoclave

This uses extreme pressure and heat up to 134°C to fully sterilize and dry the equipment. Every item placed in the autoclave is medically bagged prior to insertion, to ensure that the equipment within remains sterile until the bag is opened just before use.

Before your piercing:

You MUST ensure that all alcohol (and drugs) are OUT of your system before any piercing. You should question the ethics of your practitioner if they consent to pierce you knowing you are under the influence. This isn’t because your practitioner is a kill-joy or T Total, its because you’ll bleed more and prolong your healing time if you have alcohol in your system before you get pierced.

Rest assured, for all NON oral piercings, it should be fine to have a tipple AFTER your piercing. However, for any oral piercings including lip, tongue, frowney, smiley, tongueweb, madonna, medusa, cheek etc, it is very important NOT to drink alcohol after your piercing for a few days. Alcohol is an irritant, and will make your new oral piercing bleed and swell like a balloon – give it at least 5 days but listen to your own body – if your still sore and swollen after 5 days, give yourself more time before having a hard beverage…

When selecting your new piercing – think carefully regarding your lifestyle and if your piercing with fit in around your job, and bear in mind that it may affect sleeping in a certain way for a while. Consider your initial jewellery choice carefully as you may not be able to change it until the piercing is fully healed.

PIERCING AFTERCARE

Aftercare rule Number 1 –

Please do not expect too much too soon!

Remember that healing times vary with the type and position of the piercing, and can vary significantly from person to person depending upon a variety of factors such as lifestyle, movement and your overall health.

Please see above for a full list of healing times.

Please do not remove or replace the initial piercing jewellery until it is fully healed.

Please try to ensure a piece of jewellery is worn in the piercing for at least 12 months after it has healed, if jewellery needs to be removed for any reason, it is advisable to wear a retainer to ensure your piercing does not heal up.

Things to expect from your piercing:

  • Soon after the piercing, it may bleed if knocked. This is common and perfectly normal! Just apply some sterile gauze and pressure for a couple of minutes until the blood clots.
  • For the first few weeks, expect the area to be red, swollen, tender, puffy & sometimes bruised.
  • Expect the piercing to secrete a sticky clear/white/pale yellow fluid throughout the healing process. This may form a crust once its dried. Many people mistake this fluid as a sign of infection – please don’t worry, its usually lymph which is completely normal. A green smelly fluid indicates infection.

Things to avoid:

  • Soap, shampoo, and chemical residues from showering/bathing. Be sure to rinse the piercing with clean water following a shower or a bath!
  • Antiseptic preparations such as Savlon cream or spray, TCP, Hydrogen Peroxide, Dettol, Surgical Spirit etc –DO NOT USE THESE to clean your piercing! These are very harsh and will cause irritation and delay healing.
  • Playing or fiddling with the piercing using dirty fingers. This will likely increase healing time, cause it to swell, and/or cause an infection.
  • Moving or twisting the piercing whilst dry. If any secreted discharge has hardened on the jewellery, turning it may tear the fistula or surrounding tissue and prolong healing.
  • Knocking the piercing or causing any trauma.
  • Swimming pools for the first few weeks.
  • Do your best to avoid sleeping on your piercing.

How to mix sea salt water correctly:

  • Pour approximately HALF A PINT of boiling water into a large mug/cup, then add a QUARTER OF A TEASPOON of rock or sea salt to the water. Do not use table salt.
  • Wait until this has cooled just enough to use whilst it’s still hot, but not hot enough to burn you or cause discomfort, then use a clean cotton bud to clean around each side of your fresh piercing.
  • The solution should taste about as salty as tears – too much salt will irritate your piercing and dry it out, prolonging healing.

How to clean your new piercing:

  • Clean your piercing with sea salt water twice a day. Do not forget to wash your hands before doing so!
  • Submerge your piercing into the salt water, or alternatively dip some kitchen roll into the water and apply to the piercing as a hot compress to soak and soften any discharge. This is also helpful to reduce fluid build-up and ‘bathe’ the cells.
  • Pat dry with clean kitchen roll following cleaning. If you are very sensitive to salt, you may wish to flush the area with clean water after cleaning with salt water.
  • Be sure to check that the fixings on your piercing are tight after cleaning, as they can work themselves loose.
  • Between sea salt water soaks, we recommend you use a product called H2Ocean piercing aftercare spray around 3 times daily. It is a 0.9% saltwater solution (perfect salinity to match the body) which gently removes crusts without the need to touch your piercing. It is naturally antibacterial without nasty chemicals and encourages healing as it contains an enzyme called Lysozyme, which is naturally found within our mucosal membranes. Cross contamination is impossible as the spray is a sterile pressurized container (each spray is therefore sterile until the very end of the can!) This spray simply helps heal your piercings faster.

General aftercare for all piercings:

  • Clean your piercing twice daily using the salt water solution described overleaf. Make sure your hands are clean! Between cleans, use H2Ocean spray to speed up healing.
  • A very gentle antibacterial wash such as Carex or Simple can be used on your fresh piercing twice daily EXCLUDING genital piercings. Please follow the manufacturers instructions and only use instead of a salt solution. If irritation occurs, discontinue use.
  • Do not move, twist or turn the piercing whilst dry.
  • Expect some swelling or soreness from your new piercing – A knock may cause swelling or soreness to flare up again throughout the healing phase.
  • When cleaning, ensure any balls are tightened as they come loose easily due to the natural movement of the area.

 Ear piercings including: Lobes, Tragus, Anti-Tragus, Conch, Helix, Snug, Daith, Industrial, Rook, Translobe, Transverse Lobe:

  • Ears are subjected to temperature changes and environmental stress – A knock may cause swelling or soreness to flare up again throughout the healing phase.
  • Cartilage piercings occasionally form lumps. Sometimes these are fluid build-ups caused simply because bloodflow to the area isn’t great, or can be caused by irritation. This is easy to resolve using heat and pressure from a hot salt water OR hot chamomile teabag compress once daily, replacing one of your daily cleanings. Pop in and see us for advice.
  • Do not change the initial jewellery in cartilage piercings for the first 3 months, or until healed.

Body Piercings including Navels and Nipples:

  • Do not wear tight clothing (e.g. lacy bras over nipple piercings, high waisted clothing for navels etc.)
  • Avoid sunbeds for the first 2 weeks. Always cover the piercing with a breathable plaster during tanning.
  • Avoid swimming for the first 2 weeks as chlorine may irritate the piercing. After swimming, ensure the piercing is thoroughly cleaned.

All piercings can reject. Surface piercings (including Navels) are especially prone to rejection. This is where jewellery is expelled from the skin. This is painless but leaves a scar that can fade in time. If you are concerned your piercing may be rejecting please pop in for a free consultation and advice.

Facial Piercings including Eyebrow, Bridge, Septum, Nostril:

  • Take care not to get make-up into your new facial piercing.
  • Do not change the initial jewellery for the first 6-8 weeks.

Oral Piercings including Tongue, Smiley, Frowney, Tongue Web, Lip, Labret, Medusa, Madonna, Cheek, Vertical or Horizontal Lip:

  • Keep yourself hydrated to minimise and help reduce swelling.
  • Avoid playing with your new oral piercing as this will irritate the area, prolong swelling and healing.
  • Alcohol and drugs should be avoided until the initial swelling has gone. Alcohol is an irritant and may worsen or prolong swelling and healing.
  • Avoid hot, spicy, salty or citrus foods and caffeine for the first few days. All of these are irritants and will slow down the healing process (and might sting a bit!)
  • If you are a smoker, try to cut down as much as possible during the healing process and rinse your mouth out with 1 part alcohol-free mouthwash to 10 parts water after each cigarette.
  • During the healing of an oral piercing, gargle with the (cooled) salt water solution described overleaf, or alcohol-free mouthwash after each meal.
  • During the external healing of Lip, Madonna, Medusa Labret, Horizontal and vertical Lip and Cheek piercings, gently clean around the outside of the piercing with salt water and a cotton bud twice daily to remove any discharge. Do not pick, as you will increase the chance of bacteria entering the wound.
  • Special care for tongue piercings:
  • Stick to soft food and a liquid diet as much as possible for the first few days.
  • This is the best excuse you’ll ever get to eat ice cream – as it reduces the swelling!
  • Avoid alcohol for the first week. Your tongue will swell like a balloon if you don’t!
  • Ibuprofen can help with any dull healing pain, and will reduce swelling.
  • A shorter bar may be required after 7-10 days, pop back in and we’ll change this for you.

Genital Piercings

  • Always wash your hands before cleaning a piercing. Clean your piercing twice daily.
  • Never use any perfumed soaps or antibacterial products as they can kill the good bacteria naturally present and could cause thrush!
  • Refrain from any sexual activity until healed (or at least a week) and always use protection to avoid infection.
  • Male Genital Piercings including PA, Reverse PA, Ampallang, Apadravya, Dydoe, Frenum, Guiche, Scrotum, Foreskin, Hafada:

– With glans piercings (such as PA) the easiest way to clean your piercing is to make your salt solution (described above) in a jug and soak for a few minutes. Once cleaned, rinse the piercing and pat dry.

– With other piercings (such as Scrotum or Guiche), clean the piercing twice daily by soaking, using a hot compress, or clean cotton bud and salt solution. Rinse and pat dry.

  • Female Genital Piercings including Clitoral Hood, Inner/Outer Labia, Fourchette, Christina, Triangle:

– Submerge the piercing in the salt solution (described above) for a few minutes. Rinse and pat dry.

– Labia piercings are prone to swelling for the first couple of weeks. Hot salt compresses help.

Surface Piercings including Nape, Horizontal Navel, Horizontal / Anti Eyebrow, Wrist, Madison, Chin, Vertical Bridge, Pubic, Handweb, Prayer, etc:

  • Surface Piercings are long healers – sometimes taking over a year.
  • Perseverance is the key, along with hot salt compresses twice a day to soften and remove any discharge.
  • All piercings can reject. Surface piercings (including Navels) are especially prone to rejection. This is where jewellery is expelled from the skin. This is painless but leaves a scar that can fade in time. Common causes of rejection include: piercing through taut skin, jewellery being ill fitting, external stress (such as tight clothing), Allergic reaction to jewellery, too harsh a cleaning routine, trauma (knocking the piercing) etc. If you are concerned your piercing may be rejecting please pop in for a free consultation and advice.

If you have ANY concerns, questions or queries PLEASE get in touch.

If you are ever in any doubt in regards to your piercing (regardless of where it was done or what advice you have been given) please pop in and see us! We will always help as much as we can

PIERCING TROUBLESHOOTING

We made this little section as we like to reassure our clients that every piercing is not without its complications! Relax, we got you covered!

Firstly REMEMBER – How to mix sea salt water correctly:

  • Pour approximately HALF A PINT of boiling water into a large mug/cup, then add a QUARTER OF A TEASPOON of rock or sea salt to the water. Do not use table salt.
  • Wait until this has cooled just enough to use whilst it’s still hot, but not hot enough to burn you or cause discomfort, then use a clean cotton bud to clean around each side of your fresh piercing.
  • The solution should taste about as salty as tears – too much salt will irritate your piercing and dry it out, prolonging healing.

General aftercare for all piercings:

  • Clean your piercing twice daily using the salt water solution described above. Make sure your hands are clean! Between cleans, use H2Ocean spray to speed up healing.
  • A very gentle antibacterial wash such as Carex or Simple can be used on your fresh piercing twice daily EXCLUDING genital piercings. Please follow the manufacturers instructions and only use instead of a salt solution. If irritation occurs, discontinue use.
  • Do not move, twist or turn the piercing whilst dry.
  • Expect some swelling or soreness from your new piercing – A knock may cause swelling to flare up again throughout the healing phase.
  • When cleaning, ensure any balls are tightened as they come loose easily due to the natural movement of the area.

Is it infected!?

  • Often, what is believed to be an infection is actually a build up of perfectly healthy lymph or fluid – this is absolutely to be expected following a piercing. If you suspect that your piercing might be infected, please pop into the studio or give us a call and we will do our best to advise you on the best course of action. Please don’t ignore a build up of any kind!
  • The symptoms of a localized infection include:

–       Red skin that’s swollen and tender and quite warm to the touch

–       Swollen lymph nodes

–       Pus that is green in colour and smelly

  •    The body will usually get rid of a minor infection all on its own. IF you are able to take anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen or arnica, do so according to the manufacturers instructions and continue with sea salt compresses (described above) twice daily on your piercing, and use H2Ocean spray between cleans, and the infection should improve within a couple of days.
  •    Nip to see your GP right away if your symptoms last for a week or more or get any worse in the meantime. You may just need a course of oral antibiotics.
  •    If you do decide to visit a walk-in clinic, pharmacy or your doctor, please bear in mind that not all doctors are understanding of body modification and you’d be surprised how many nurses/pharmacists etc advise for you to immediately remove the jewellery without thinking about the consequences. DO NOT REMOVE YOUR JEWELLERY – ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE AN INFECTION! The jewellery provides a drainage point for the infection to exit the body. If you remove the jewellery before the infection has cleared up, you could well trap the infection inside the body leading to excess scarring and taking much longer to heal.

Could it reject!? Is it rejecting!?

  •    Unfortunately this is a possibility with all piercings. If the body decides that it wants the foreign object (i.e. your jewellery) out – it will do its best to produce scar tissue behind the offending object and push it out through the surface of your skin.
  • Some piercings are very unlikely to reject (ear piercings for example), whereas some are more prone to rejection (such as navels, eyebrows, or surface piercings).
  • If you see a red line connecting the entry/exit points on any of your piercings, it could well be a sign that it is rejecting. Please pop in and see us for advice.
  • Often piercings are just irritated and not rejecting, but if you are concerned that there is even a small possibility that it may be rejecting please pop into the studio and let us take a look for you – we may be able to save it by changing the jewellery for you!
  • If your piercing is irritated try the chamomile compress method described below to help calm it down.
  • Surface piercings often shrink as they heal, this is totally normal but they may need to be downsized – if you experience one ‘leg’ of your surface bar sticking up more than it used to please pop into the studio ASAP so we can downsize it for you. Failure to do so could lead to rejection.

There’s a Bump! What is it & what can I do?

  • Almost all piercing related bumps that we see are NOT keloid or hyphertrophic scars. They are almost always fluid build-ups and are most commonly seen in cartilage piercings but can occur anywhere. They often secrete fluid that looks like pus if knocked – this does not mean they are infected – they often flare up and go down of their own accord and eventually will go away but you can speed the process up by two methods.
  • Firstly, ensure the jewellery is not too long and irritating the piercing – if it is, you can try adding a silicone disc to the jewellery to help compress the piercing site and reduce the fluid build up (we sell these for just a few pence and can fit them for you).
  • Secondly, you can speed up fluid draining by using hot chamomile compresses. Get some pure chamomile tea bags (make sure there is no real tea or caffeine in the teabags), steep the teabag in boiling water for a few minutes then fish it out and let it cool ever so slightly just to a point where you do not burn yourself, but you still want it to be as hot as you can stand. Wrap it around the piercing and hold it there under gentle compress until the teabag has gone stone cold. Repeat. Do this instead of one of your daily cleans and within a few weeks the fluid build-up should have gone. Note it may look worse before it looks better as the fluid starts to drain it may look like a spot – do not pick it – you will just increase scarring and delay healing – it will drain of its own accord as doing the compresses opens up tiny blood vessels in the area and just increases the speed in which the fluid will drain away back into the body.

piercing A photo of a tragus with a fluid build-up

Scarring – what can I do?

  • Jewellery in a wound means the body has a lot more work to do to heal. It takes much longer to heal a piercing with jewellery in it than it would a normal wound, and the area will likely swell regularly throughout the healing period. Both of these factors can increase the risk of your body producing excess scarring. This is most common in darker skin type but can affect anyone, anywhere on the body.
  • Hyphertrophic scarring is a lump of scar that sits above the flat surface of the skin, they are far more common than ‘keloids’ and the two are often mixed up (even by doctors) as they do look very similar, though hyphertrophic scars are smaller and tend to be much easier to treat. Hyphertrophic scars often reduce on their own over time as long as correctly fitting jewellery is worn, and can often also be reduced by massaging the piercing site with vitamin E oil such as bio-oil.
  • A keloid scar is a very large and usually thick lump of scar tissue that can become several times larger than the original wound. Keloid scars are difficult to treat and cannot be simply ‘cut off’ as the body usually grows another keloid, even bigger than the original.
  • If you are worried that you may have a hyphertrophic or true keloid scar that isn’t improving in time, visit a dermatologist who may be able to help.

My stretched ear is SORE and

looks weird and lumpy!

  • If you recently stretched up or worn a new piece of jewellery or experienced trauma to the ear, it sounds like you may have a blow out – DOWNSIZE IMMEDIATELY to a piece of jewellery you’ve worn in the past or something that you know you are not allergic to. If in doubt, something single flared and inert such as borosilicate glass is your best bet.
  • Clean the area twice daily using the salt water solution described overleaf. Make sure your hands are clean before doing so! Between cleans, use H2Ocean spray to speed up healing.
  • Once the lobes are no longer sore (it may take a few days or longer for this to happen) start massaging them twice daily with a vitamin E oil such as Bio-oil to improve elasticity and reduce scarring.
  • Wait AT LEAST 4 weeks before attempting to stretch again and stretch no more than 1mm every 4 weeks. If you believe it was a reaction to the jewellery you wore that caused your blow out, do not attempt to wear that type of jewellery again. Do not wear porous jewellery (such as wood, bone or horn) until the lobes are very well healed.

I’m worried I might be having an allergic reaction to a new piece of jewellery..

  • An allergic reaction is where your immune system over-reacts when your skin touches a particular material. This can happen with any material. Sometimes the material may not be harmful at all (in the case of titanium, for example) – allergic reactions to metals like this are very rare.
  • Allergic reactions to more harmful materials such as Nickel (which is present in silver and gold) are much more common as most people’s bodies will be trying to “fight” the material. Remember you can be allergic to ANYTHING – silicone, metals, organics etc. so always pay attention to how your skin reacts to any new piece of jewellery.
  • Usually within 24 hours an allergy will become apparent.
  • Contact dermatitis is the main symptom – the skin around the piercing will become red, swollen and unbearably itchy. In more severe cases, the skin can blister, crack and break leaving you open to infection.
  • If the material causing the allergy is removed, the reaction should cease and the skin should heal in time. Be sure to wear jewellery you know you are not allergic to in the piercing to ensure it doesn’t close down whilst its recovering from the reaction.

Problems with jewellery choices / Does it really matter what material I wear in my body?

Yes! It is vital that you understand the differences in piercing jewellery materials and quality to make sure you are not risking your long-term health, and also risking your appearance (some materials can permanently discolor the skin or cause a nasty reaction which can lead to extensive scarring). Be sure to buy quality jewellery form a reputable supplier and take a read of our Materials Guide for more information about what materials jewellery can be made from and which choices are good and bad for various reasons and stages of healing.

STRETCHING AND LARGE GAUGE PIERCING

Stretching involves enlarging a piercing over time to allow gradually larger and larger pieces of jewellery to be worn until the desired size is achieved. Once the piercing is healed, larger gauge jewellery can be fitted with the aid of an insertion taper and some lubricant. Stretching is most common in the earlobes but many people also stretch the lip, septum, tongue, navel, cheek etc. Cartilage piercings are more complicated to stretch as they are more prone to keloid scarring – dermal punching yields a better result if large gauge piercings are desired in cartilage – please chat to us about this if it something you are interested in.

Stretching a piercing is more time demanding than most other body modification and requires dedication to the way of life. Do not stretch any part of your body unless you are certain you will be happy with it forever (or want to undergo our earlobe reconstruction service!) Some people can stretch to 8mm-10mm and still have enough tissue elasticity to go back to normal if the jewellery is removed, but there are no guarantees that this could happen thus this should be seen as a permanent modification.

How to stretch safely:

Existing jewellery should be removed and the area cleaned and dried. Water-based lubricant should then be applied onto the tip of the taper, inserted skinny-end-first into the fistula and gently pushed through in a twisting motion. Once the thickest end of the taper is flush with the surface of the lobe, the jewellery can be aligned and guided through (resulting in the taper being removed and the jewellery sitting in the stretched area). Clean the area thoroughly to remove any traces of lubricant. Treat the stretch like a fresh piercing for the next 2-4 weeks and then massage daily with a vitamin E oil such as Bio Oil to increase moisture and suppleness in the area. Do not use petroleum based lubricants such as Vaseline to stretch your lobes.

Please try to ensure a piece of jewellery is worn in the stretch at all times, if jewellery needs to be removed for any reason, it is advisable to wear a flesh coloured retainer to ensure your stretch does not heal up or shrink down.

Please always follow the rule of thumb – stretch no more than 1mm every 4 weeks. Thus if you want to achieve a 2mm stretch, ensure it is at least 8 weeks since you last stretched the area. If you plan to stretch a fresh piercing, ensure it has been healed for at least 8 weeks before you start to stretch, then follow the rule of thumb.

Stretching an area to quickly or prematurely can result in tearing of the fistula or a ‘blow out’. This leads to a build up of scar tissue (usually at the back of the fistula). If you stretch improperly and get a blowout or very thin lobes, downsize your jewellery immediately (perhaps several sizes) to reduce pressure on the area and massage daily with oil and allow to fully heal for at least 8 weeks before attempting to stretch again. Hopefully by doing this the body will reabsorb the scar tissue. If you are concerned a blowout may occur again, or if your lobes are too thin, but you want to upsize, please speak with us about ear scalpelling as this could be an option for you.

Stretching Aftercare:

How to care for and things to expect from your stretch:

  • Soon after the stretch, it may bleed a little if knocked. This is common and perfectly normal! Just apply some sterile gauze and pressure for a couple of minutes until the blood clots.
  • For the first week, expect the area to be red, swollen, tender, puffy, and sometimes bruised.
  • Expect the piercing to secrete clear/white/pale yellow fluid throughout the healing process. Many people mistake this fluid as a sign of infection – please don’t worry. A green smelly fluid indicates infection. Stretches can smell if they are not kept clean – this does not mean they are infected! Ensure they are cleaned twice daily with an antibacterial handwash and flushed with clean water. Alternatively use the saltwater solution described above twice daily.

Things to avoid:

  • Soap, shampoo, and chemical residues from showering/bathing. Be sure to rinse the piercing with clean water following a shower or a bath!
  • Antiseptic preparations such as Savlon cream or spray, TCP, Hydrogen Peroxide, Dettol, Surgical Spirit etc –DO NOT USE THESE to clean your piercing! These are very harsh and will cause irritation and delay healing.
  • Playing or fiddling with the piercing using dirty fingers. This will likely increase healing time, cause it to swell, and/or cause an infection.
  • Moving or twisting the piercing whilst dry. If any secreted discharge has hardened on the jewellery, turning it may tear the fistula or surrounding tissue and prolong the healing process.
  • Knocking the piercing or causing any trauma.
  • Swimming pools for the first week following a stretch.

If stretching is too labour intensive, and you would like a large hole right off the bat, we will be happy to pierce at large gauge (up to 6mm) for you. This option is a safe way to achieve a large gauge piercing much faster than stretching. Large gauge piercing does not remove tissue in the way a dermal punch would (see modifications) but as with a stretched piercing – there is no guarantee the tissue would shrink down to how it was originally.

*We can stretch for you!*

It’s free!

Just ask

If you have ANY concerns, questions or queries PLEASE get in touch.

If you are ever in any doubt in regards to you stretch (regardless of where it was done or what advice you have been given) please pop in and see us! We will always help as much as we can