Body Piercing: Safe Jewelry Choices

Overview

Not all jewelry is appropriate for body piercing. Choose jewelry for body piercing sites that:

  • Is removable.
    • If you have your mouth pierced and you use oral jewelry, make sure it can be removed. For example, you should be able to unscrew the ball on one end of a barbell-shaped device to make the device easy to insert and take out.
  • Allows for full cleaning of the piercing site.
    • Ear studs or other jewelry designed for the ears are not appropriate for other body sites. Other body sites are hard to clean or may easily tear or snag if you use jewelry designed for the ear in them.
  • Is smoothly polished, free of nicks, scratches, or jagged surfaces that might damage the skin.
    • The back of an earring can pinch and damage tissue when used in places other than the earlobe. Backs of earrings are not smooth enough to prevent skin and tissue damage.
  • Is the right thickness for the body site being pierced.
    • Jewelry that is too thin can tear right through the skin. The thickness of the average ear stud is too small for most other body piercing sites.
    • Jewelry that is too thick for the site can cause an abscess, a cyst, or scar tissue formation.
    • Jewelry that is too large can easily catch on clothing.
    • Jewelry that is too small can be absorbed into the body tissues.
  • Is made from metals that do not cause allergic reactions.
    • Only use nonallergenic jewelry, such as surgical steel, gold, or titanium, in a new piercing. Do not use nickel or brass-plated jewelry.
  • Is sterilized before it is put into the piercing site.
    • Choose jewelry that has not been used or worn or that has been sterilized.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine

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