How To Know If Your Piercing Is Infected

You decided on a body piercing, found a reputable piercer, and survived your appointment. Now your piercing is doing something unexpected, and you’re worried that it might be infected. Are these the normal signs of healing, or are you and your piercing headed for trouble? Read on to find out how to tell if your piercing is infected.

Any time your body is injured – including piercing – you might see the five signs of inflammation: redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function. These are normal and indicate that your immune system is at work, but they can also be signs of infection. The difference is a matter of degree and timing.

Symptoms

Your piercer should tell you what to expect during healing. If you know what is normal, you will be able to detect trouble early. Let’s look at the possible symptoms of infection:

Redness – It is normal for a new piercing to be slightly reddened because blood flow to the area is naturally increased. Sure signs of trouble include redness that won’t go away, an expanding area of redness, or red streaks that track away from the piercing.

Heat – Heat also occurs because of increased blood flow and indicates a problem if it increases over time, is hot and not just warm, or just will not go away.

Swelling – Swelling is caused by a build up of fluid. Oral piercings are especially prone to it – a tongue piercing can take a week to ten days to settle down. Swelling is problematic if it does not go down as quickly as expected or gets worse. Your jewelry must be long enough to accommodate swelling. Otherwise, it is very hard to clean, and there is a risk that the jewelry could pull through the piercing and be lost under the skin.

Pain – It is normal for a piercing to be tender for a few days, especially if it is subject to movement (e.g. tongue, lip), or aggravated by clothing or bumping. Pain that worsens with time or is extreme indicates a problem.

Loss of function – An eyebrow might not have a lot of work to do, but a tongue will be slowed down by a piercing, and an infection will make this worse. A pierced body part that will not move or is too painful to move is not normal – you may have an infection.

Two more symptoms

Fever/chills/nausea

- Fever, sometimes accompanied by chills and nausea, is a definite sign of trouble. You either have a localized infection at the piercing site or a more serious (potentially fatal) systemic infection. Consult a doctor if you have a high and/or persistent fever, chills, or nausea. These are not normal reactions to piercing and you may need antibiotics.

Pus/discharge – Not every discharge indicates infection. During the early stages of healing, a healthy piercing will discharge lymph, which is just blood plasma without the larger proteins. It is a clear or slightly yellowish fluid that dries to a crust and is easily removed with warm water.

Pus, on the other hand, is definitely a sign of infection. It is largely made up of dead white blood cells and bacteria. It may be whitish, yellow, green, or gray, and may have bloody streaks and an odor. Yellow, green, or foul-smelling pus indicate a serious infection. Seek medical attention.

What to do

If you think you have an infection, contact your body piercer immediately. Piercers are often more knowledgeable than doctors, who can be prejudiced against or unfamiliar with piercings. However, if you think you are in trouble or your condition worsens significantly, you must seek medical attention. If you lose a piercing, you can get it redone – it is not worth risking your life or serious tissue damage.

Mild infections can likely be treated at home. One time-tested remedy is the salt-water soak. Dissolve 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of sea salt in 1 cup (250 ml) of warm (not so hot that you scald yourself) water in a clean cup, ideally a disposable plastic one for each treatment. Soak the piercing or make a compress with a clean washcloth saturated with the salt water. Do this two or three times per day, fifteen minutes per session.

Avoid antibiotic creams or ointments as they trap dirt and debris and do not allow the piercing to breathe. Do not remove the jewelry from an infected piercing. This could allow the piercing to seal, trapping pus and causing an abscess. Pay special attention to infections in facial or oral piercings – their proximity to the brain makes them especially dangerous.

Prevention

The best strategy is prevention; follow the aftercare instructions from your piercer. He or she will recommend a mild cleanser and a cleaning schedule. Never touch a piercing with unclean hands. Never use alcohol, peroxide, iodine-based products or harsh antibacterial soaps. They are much too strong and will dry skin, kill cells, and impede the healing process.

The History and Culture of Stretched Ears

People have been decorating and making changes to the appearance of their bodies since recorded history began. This has taken many forms through the ages, such as tattooing, piercing, stretching, scarring, branding, muscle sculpture, hair styling and many more, and for almost as many different reasons.

The three major purposes of these forms of body modification have historically been tribal (to display allegiance to one tribe or group of people), in war (to scare the enemy and distinguish friend from foe), and for fashion and perceived beauty. Ear stretching has been popular for centuries, but this popularity has increased in Western culture in recent years.

For some, there is a profound spirituality in the protracted process of stretching ears, while for others it is fun and more involved than simple ear piercing, and the fact that fewer people do it adds to its appeal. Others have their own reasons, but irrespective of these, stretched ears have always been part of human history and will continue to be so.

Reasons For Stretching Ears

Just as with other forms of body modification or enhancement, people have historically stretched their ears for a number of reasons. For some cultures, this represented a coming of age, while for others it was carried out to enhance beauty or sexuality. Throughout the ages it has been used both for religious reasons and to protect the subject from witchcraft or evil. Ear stretching is still carried out all over the world for a variety of reasons, including those mentioned above.

If you travel to Africa, you will find that stretched ears are common among many indigenous peoples, including the Maasia in east Africa, the Mursi in Ethiopia, and it is also carried out in some Asian countries such as Thailand. In South America, stretched ears are common amongst the Huaorami of the Amazon Basin, but you generally need go no further than your own hometown to see some excellent examples of ear stretching. Stretched piercings and flesh tunnels are now a common form of ear adornment for Western youth.

Icemen and Pharaohs

One of the more famous examples from history is Ötzi the Iceman, a 5,300 year-old mummified body found in the Alps between Austria and Italy. In addition to several tattoos, Ötzi had an ear stretched to around 7 mm – 11 mm diameter. The giant Easter Island statues display stretched ear lobes, the likely reason for them being known as ‘Long Ears’. The story goes that the statues were carved in honour of the original inhabitants of the island representing them with the earlobe stretchings that were part of their culture. When a different tribe arrived on the island, they were known as ‘Short Ears’, and were forced into slavery by the Long Ears. Eventually there were more Short Ears than Long Ears, and the latter were overthrown and the statues toppled over.

In Egypt, the boy king Tutankhamen is represented as having stretched ears, and his famous golden death mask features holes that can take 10 mm diameter bars. The processes used to stretch these famous sets of ears are not known, because there are many techniques that can be used. It is likely that primitive stretchings were carried out using wooden plugs or bamboo, and although a few people like to return to these early methods, they are not recommended today for health reasons.

Stretching Ears is Not Reversible

If you are interested in stretched ears, there are certain factors of which you should be aware. The first is that it is generally permanent. Once stretched, your ears stay that way. The holes do not heal over like a normal ear piercing, so make sure that you are happy with having stretched ears for the rest of your life. There is time at the beginning to stop and allow your ears to heal back to normal, but once the diameter reached 10-12 mm, it is too late and the hole will not close up. Another is that it takes time and patience. You do not visit a piercer and come out after an hour or two with stretched ears!

If you have decided that you want it done, you are advised to have the procedure carried out professionally. Yes, you can go it alone, but a professional will provide you with the best results, and it will also be safer. It will be quicker if your ears are already pierced, because otherwise you will need that done first and then wait up to 8 weeks for it to heal. Then you can start of the stretching, or gauging as it is often referred to.

That is because the diameter of the needles used is referred to as their ‘gauge’. The gauge of a needle drops as the diameter increases, so that an 18-gauge needle is small – in fact, that’s the gauge of an average initial piercing. Once you reach a 2 gauge, the diameter is that of a pencil and so on down. An 11 mm hole is 000-gauge (actually 11.11 mm or 7/16 inch).

Ear Stretching Should Not Be Rushed

As already explained, ear stretching is a slow process, and you should never try to rush it. If you try to rush, it will likely take longer eventually because unless the ear has time to get used to each lower gauge it won’t heal properly. You might then have to start all over again. Gauged ears should not bleed and there is distinct procedure to follow. Fundamentally, you increase the diameter of the piercing in small steps, allowing healing between each step. A common way to achieve this is to use an insertion taper, where one end of the taper is the same diameter as your existing hole, and the other side is of larger diameter.

This can be in the form of a stud that you wear until you are ready for the next size up. The next stud will have one end at the current diameter and the other at the lower gauge (larger diameter). That is pushed through and secured, and you wear that until the next insertion, and so on. If you keep your ears and jewellery clean and sterilized between sessions using anti-bacterial soap or saline solution then you should heal fine between each session – allow about two weeks between sessions.

Take the Advice of the Pros

It is very important to follow the advice of the professionals, and do not try to cut corners. Many people have ruined their ears by failing to be patient, so don’t let that be you. Follow cleaning instructions to the letter, both during and after the entire stretching process. There are many different types of ear jewellery available for stretched ears, including flesh tunnels, bars and rings.

There is also a wide choice of materials, from wood or plastic to gold and platinum. Many prefer glass while others find Teflon best, particularly if they suffer allergies. Niobium, surgical stainless steel and titanium are also popular materials for stretched ear jewellery.

Keep in mind that not all can be worn indefinitely, particularly the porous materials such as wood, shell and some plastics that can harbour bacteria, yeasts and fungi. Such jewellery should be regularly removed and thoroughly cleaned and sterilized. Ear stretching sets you apart from the usual crowd, and can be a very distinctive form of ornamentation. It is something that few people regret having done.

Surgical Steel Body Jewelry – Three Reasons Why Surgical Steel Body Jewelry is Your Best Choice

Are you interested in wearing body jewelry to give you a unique, fashionable look? If so, you should be aware of the many types that are available, and which are safest and most durable. Here are three reasons why you should put surgical steel body jewelry at or near the top of your list…

Varieties Of Body Jewelry Available

Much like traditional jewelry, body jewelry comes in many different styles, compositions, and price ranges. The most common is gold and gold plated. Solid gold, of course, is more expensive than gold plated. Organic, plastic, and glass are other types you will see.

Also popular is silver and steel. These minerals are relatively easy for jewelry craftsmen to work with, so you will find a lot of these on the market. What is important to understand is which are safest for you, your skin, and your piercings.

In general, plated pieces are the most prone to giving you unwanted skin problems and infections. You can generally tell by looking at their price tag or by asking a few simple questions. Most body jewelry costing less than five to ten dollars is plated, either with gold, silver, or steel.

Then again, some pieces crafted from glass or plastic are also in this price range, so it is best to ask before you buy. Glass and plastic are safer than plated items, but they are nowhere near as durable as those made from surgical steel, for example. We always recommend surgical steel body jewelry, especially for those on a limited budget. Here are the three main reasons why…

Surgical Steel Helps You Avoid Skin Problems

Surgical steel is a very high grade metal, and as the name suggests, it is frequently used in the medical profession where hygiene and safety are at a premium. If you buy from a reputable online source, you will get the best grade of surgical steel available.

The key is avoiding possible skin irritations and painful infections from buying plated or cheap pieces. Common sense precautions also come into play, like not letting anyone else wear your jewelry, nor borrowing any from someone else.

Reasonable Cost

You can buy body jewelry for as little as one dollar, and some pieces with precious stones run several hundred dollars. If you are on a budget, surgical steel items are ideal. Typically, you can get a durable, good looking piece for fifteen to twenty dollars.

Further, items made from this type of steel are available for any area of your body. Because it is increasing in popularity, you will find more and more selection of interesting and unique designs.

Durability

Steel is one of the most durable elements you can buy. Surgical steel is even stronger, so the item you buy will last for years.

Many other varieties of body jewelry will chip, fade, or tarnish. This is especially true with plated gold, silver, and plastic. Given their other risks, plated items in particular will not provide you any long lasting value.

Summary

Of the many varieties of body jewelry available, we recommend surgical steel as one of the safest, most economical choices. In general, you can find pieces in the fifteen to twenty dollar range, without fear of skin irritations or infections from cheaper grade metals.

Also, items made with this type of steel will last indefinitely. You can expect to own a fashionable, trendy item you can enjoy for years.

Why is Abstract Art So Popular?

Abstract art is popular because it has a purpose in this world both for the artist and the viewer. Many people collect abstract paintings to beautify their surroundings, as an investment, or to update their lives with contemporary culture. They often feel a connection with the colors, the forms, texture, or energy that the artwork gives off. The artwork changes their living space and creates an atmosphere worth living in.

For the artist, creating the artwork can be an expressive means to channel creative energy and emotion. The action of painting is actually considered therapy and very meditative for many abstract artists. The evidence of this has been documented to be especially true in today’s modern fast pace world.

Abstract art also covers a broad spectrum of painting styles. The general understanding is that this type of art does not depict anything in the natural world and the subject is simply a visual language of color and form. While this is true of non-representational works (which I love to create), this is simply not true for all abstract art out there. The word “abstract” means a departure from reality, but this departure can sometimes be only a slight one. This in-turn leaves room for partially abstract landscapes, figures, seascapes, etc. to be categorized as abstract art.

The beauty of abstract art, both for the artist and the viewer, is that anyone can take what they see and interpret it however they want. Of course this is true of any type of artwork, but considering the nature of abstract artwork, the creative mind has even more freedom to roam and interpret what is appearing before the senses. Abstract artwork is a non-traditional free art form that resonates with the feelings and emotions of today’s contemporary artists and art collectors. As long as this is true abstract art will continue to be so popular.