Body Piercing Tools and Jewelry

Learn the basics of body piercing, including the necessary tools and the most common piercing options.

The huge popularity of piercing and body modification has meant an ever-increasing range of options for those interested in doing it themselves. Nowadays, with various piercing tools and kits available, almost anyone can try piercing from the privacy of their own home. Most basic piercings simply require the right tools, and a steady hand. Hollow needles and piercing guns can be found in most tattoo and piercing shops, or in medial supply catalogs. Alcohol wipes and other sterilization methods can also be found in a variety of stores, and are essential for cleaning the area prior to and after the piercing.

Here, then, is a quick guide to the basic body piercing tools and types, for those thinking of getting into body modification. Though some piercings are relatively easy and straightforward, others are more complicated, difficult, or dangerous and should not be done without proper supervision and training. As always, when piercing at home, one must make sure all equipment is properly sterilized to reduce the risk of infection.

Ear Lobe Piercing: The most basic and simple piercing, an ear lobe piercing is easily and quickly done at home and requires little or no training. The basic piercing is a stainless-steel stud placed through a hole made in the ear lobe. A small ball at one end of the stud and a removable backing on the other end prevent the piercing from falling out. Ear lobe piercings can be done in several ways. Piercing guns hold the stud in place near the ear, then shoot it quickly through the ear, making a small hole. Because of the high velocity, the guns are over quickly, but the use of speed and force to punch a hole in the ear can be fairly painful and less accurate. The second method of lobe piercing is the use of a hollow needle, which cuts a small hole in the lobe and allows the stud to pass through. Ear lobe piercings can be decorated with a number of jewelery types, not just the basic stud. Stainless steel hoops, with small removable balls, are also available. Once the lobe has healed, the hole can be widened, with studs of increasing thickness. Known as gauging out the hole, thick plugs or even round hoops can be inserted in ever increasing diameter until the hole becomes big enough to put a person’s entire hand through.

Nose Piercing: Another fairly simple piercing that has a long history of being practiced at home, the basic nose piercing requires a small hole through the side wall of the nose, above the flange of the nostril. The basic nose piercing is distinct from the septum piercing, in which a hole is made through the center divider between a person’s nostrils. Septum piercings must be made in the correct place to avoid hitting bone or cartilage, and thus should not be attempted without proper training. With basic nose piercings, a thin hollow needle is the most common equipment. A dot is made where the piercing should go, and the needle used to cut a small hole for the stud to pass through. Most nose piercings are basic studs, with or without a backing to hold them in place. Once a nose piercing has been allowed to heal, nose rings can be removed and changed easily and without pain. In addition to studs, some people prefer small hoops through the nose, or even a light chain connecting the nose piercing with an earring.

Cartilage Piercing: An ear piercing made above the lobe, in the hard cartilage of the upper ear, is commonly known as a cartilage piercing. Such piercings can be made in almost any part of the ear, and multiple piercings can be made to further decorate the ear. Because cartilage piercings require making a hole in the tough material of the ear, excess piercings or heavy jewelery have been known to break down or destroy the cartilage. However, as a fairly straightforward piercing, it is still commonly practiced at home. The piercing is done with a slightly larger hollow needle, which cuts out a hole in the cartilage and allows the stud or hoop to be passed through. Because of the tougher material, cartilage piercings can be more painful than lobe piercings, but once they heal they are also easy to exchange jewelery.

Belly Button Piercing: All the rage for girls and young women, belly button piercings are slightly more complicated than the aforementioned piercings. Made with a curved needle through the skin above or below the belly button, these piercings should be done under supervision or with the proper training. The needle is inserted through the skin, and the curved stud or hoop is passed through and closed. The piercing must be allowed to heal fully before the jewelery can be changed. Occasionally new belly button piercings will become infected and must be properly washed and cleaned as they heal. Due to their popularity, there is a huge number of belly button jewelery available, from small studs, to dangling hoops and charms, to even glow in the dark or light up jewelery.

Written by Jaime Loucky – 2002 Pagewise

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