Piercing Myths

"I used ..(insert whatever).. to heal my piercing!"

If one thing will distinguish the community of pierced souls, it is the fact that each person seems to have a recommendation about aftercare. In each case, the advocate will give 'healing times' of four weeks or more. What we find wonderful about these various magic bullets is that their piercings have healed in spite of the abuse they have subjected them to. If your piercing is uncomfortable or shows any irritation after two weeks, then something is wrong!

Remember! Your body heals its own injuries. Whatever you do to look after your piercing actually damages the new tissue and slows down the healing process. This does NOT mean that you should neglect your aftercare, but rather that the goal of your aftercare is to stop it as soon as you can reasonably do so.

"Use salt water. It's a natural way to heal your piercing."

Wrong! Salt water soaks are used for deeply infected wounds to prevent healing until the infection has been dealt with. The goal with a piercing is to promote healing. Even with infected piercings, we have found that salt water is more harmful than beneficial. Save the salt water for that industrial strength gash in your foot that you neglected for a week after stepping on a broken bottle. Even then, when your foot has returned to a normal size, stop using the salt water. (And keep it away from your piercing!)

"Piercing is a fad. It won't last."

Wrong! Piercing has been around for centuries. I started relatively late in the game, about 1981. Anyone with a vested interest in the practice of piercing has seen it come out of the closet in recent years. The public is both shocked and fascinated, but acceptance is growing, and more "main stream" clients are coming to shops around the globe.

With a better understanding, new techniques, and more stringent protection of the client, piercings in general have a much higher rate of success than in the past, and the reasons that piercing fell from favour in past times (eg. Victorian bosum rings) have all but been eliminated.

With better information available to piercers today, and with a growing push toward training and certification for the practice, piercers are showing a level of responsibility comparable to existing professional organizations, and a self-regulated industry is right around the corner if we play our hand correctly.

More and more people are getting pierced for their own reasons, and less and less are avoiding it for other people's reasons. Peer pressure is less of a factor in our industry, and this is good. It means that the clients we are seeing today are being pierced because they want to be, not because it is the in thing.

"Piercing is a biker (gay, lesbian, punk, teen, S/M'er ...fill in the blank...) thing!"

Does this sound familiar? The experience in our shop is that PEOPLE get pierced, no matter what their sex, race, creed, colour, disability, sexual orientation or proclivity. If 15% of the population is pierced, then we can safely say that about 15% of the biker (gay, lesbian, punk, teen, S/M'er ...fill in the blank...) population is pierced. The practice crosses economic boundaries, and pervades all aspects of our society equally.

The only barrier that piercing doesn't cross is a fuzzy one: intelligence. We are pleased to note that the level of intelligence among our clients appears to exceed the norm. People who are 'logically challenged' are far more likely to refuse that which they cannot understand. So I guess we are left with:

"Piercing is an intelligent thing."

"No pain. No gain."

BULLSHIT. Any competent piercer I know goes out of their way to ensure the comfort of their client. The majority of the pain in a piercing is psychogenic, or mentally created or amplified by the client's expectation of pain. Control that expectation, and the client's tolerance is improved.

At BlackStar, we use a combination of misdirection, breathing exercises, and, yes, topical anaesthesia, to control discomfort.

Standard conjurer's trick. Get the audience to pay attention to something other than what you are doing. Good environment, soft music, good conversation, anything but the needle you are removing from the package.
Try it. You have less sensation of pain if you are breathing in or out at the time of the stimulus, particularily if you are thinking about the breath you are taking (see misdirection, above). If however you are holding your breath at the time of stimulus, the sensation of pain is acute.
If used right, it works! Topical gels (eg. 2% Xylocaine) are effective with mucous membrane (inside the mouth, nose, vulva or male urethra), and are useless elsewhere. Sprays (Flourimethane or Ethyl Chlodide) rely on a cooling effect, similar to an ice pack, but are much more localized and colder than ice. They work by temporarily shutting down the circulation to the site, and feeling returns with the return of blood flow. (Please note that I am NOT advocating the use of an injectable substance. It makes no sense at all to stick a needle in a client so they wont feel the next needle.)

Most of our clients come in because they want to wear a piece of jewelry, not because they want to experience the needle. At BlackStar we follow a policy of minimizing the client's discomfort with every tool at our disposal.

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