Ear & Body Piercing/Finger piercing

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Question
Finger piercing
Finger piercing  
I had my finger pierced 3 weeks ago but I'm a little worried about the healing process. It doesn't hurt any more but it is still slightly red and has very slight scabbing around each hole. Is this normal?

Answer
My first instinct has become to immediately convince people not to do such things as surface piercings based on my years of experience and review of surgical and clinical studies. I respect and understand your interest in unusual forms of self-expression. We did some surface piercings for people at one time, before I decided that the results were not representative of the caliber of work we are capable of.  What I have found is pretty simple, and I should elaborate upon it for your benefit, so that you may make an informed decision.

A superficial piercing creates no more significant or immediate danger for infection than from any common earlobe piercing. When you pierce through a flat area of skin such as on the neck to wear jewelry, the complications are similar to the application of sutures or surgical staples assuming the appropriate level of safety precautions are taken. Full autoclave steam sterilization, suitable hand scrubbing, high filtration surgical mask, examination and skin preparation, proper use of sterile gloves, isolation of the area with sterile drape, and atraumatic tissue handling to be specific should prevent disease, infection and serious irritation in any piercing procedure.

Considering options for jewelry, the most common and seemingly feasible choice would be some close fitting bar, shaped to your anatomy, perhaps even flexible or shaped similar to an upward turned staple, also known as a surface bar. The material must critically be tested and certified for human implant applications for it to be suitable for healing and wear. Most common options and sources of body jewelry do not even come close to these specific standards for F 138 steel and F 67 or F 136 Titanium. This is particularly noticed in the lack of jewelry meeting requirements for F 86 surface finish for metallic implants.

The skin surrounding body jewelry heals similarly to any cut or scratch, and does so in the simplest and swiftest when left alone, without chemical or biological irritation such as soap, antiseptic or even tap water. Keeping it clean and dry like you would a scab or stitches allows it to grow faster than when any soaking or washing is done with any solution, pharmacological or natural. Because the wound bed is internal and supplied by surrounding circulation, unlike an external cut, it is not necessary to irrigate and or debride the affected area. Throughout the healing process the tissue around the piercing will keep the area sufficiently moist and emit any excess healing cofactors as shed material from the openings. That dried substance will usually fall off on itís own as a scab would.

Within two weeks, the first layers of skin should have sealed the wound around the jewelry. This seems to begin the circulatory problems for superficial piercings like the neck or any other flat area of skin, including some flatter eyebrows and nipples. Excessively granulated scar tissue from overgrowth of capillaries tries to feed new skin at the edges while the skin on the inner edges dries and sheds as its circulation is cut off. Tissue dehesion sets in after a few more days, followed by further granulation of scar tissue along the outside of the openings trying to fill in the recently vacated spaces the jewelry once lived in. As all of this occurs, acute cellulitis sets in, causing the area to redden significantly and swell. At this point the risk for infection increases greatly as more raw tissue is exposed and shedding cells feed scavenger organisms.

Unattended cellulitis or further infection in the area may harm the thyroid gland, lymph nodes and major blood vessels. Severe infection can mean a trip to the emergency room, and the grave risk of emergency medical treatment.

Timely antibiotic treatment often will temporarily reduce or get rid of any infection, but the tissue dehesion continues unabated. Hot compresses or soaks do not reduce the rate of tissue loss significantly, nor does any application of chemical or natural substances. Piercing underneath the scar tissue formed does not consequently make a more sturdy foundation for a second try, or third or fourth...

We have tried just about everything within our means to encourage some unusual surface piercings to work, and even to trick the body into letting it live there. Our experience is by no means dissimilar to what other piercers with a similar level of expertise have found. Isolated piercers may still be somewhere out there trying such things in different ways, but I personally assure you that the probability of a surface piercing looking attractive and healthy for more than a scant few days or weeks (long enough to get a picture to go in a portfolio, on the internet or a magazine) is too low for us to suggest it as a viable adornment. The all too rare occasion when a superficial piercing lasts for longer is cause for celebration and amazement. There are a few people who happily wear their scars, and others who may even have a bit of tissue left in which to hold a piece of jewelry, but not enough to suggest that this type of decoration is at all stable enough. The art and science involved in this pursuit are constantly changing, and as the interest persists, it is possible that the future will bring new techniques and materials that make it fun and easy.

We only want the best for you, and will be happy to give you a great number of further suggestions for unusual decoration with body jewelry. Please feel free to follow up with your piercer, or another who may be more experienced http://find.safepiercing.org/  

Ear & Body Piercing

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Brian Skellie

Expertise

I can answer questions in regards to and not limited to: jewelry safety, specifically material, shape, proportion, and related issues; aseptic technique and sterilization as it applies to piercing safety; ethical issues of technique and bedside manner; the aftercare and recovery process for piercings. *Available for consultation.

Experience

Body artist and founder of Piercing Experience (1992), http://brnskll.com/ and SciCan Authorized Dealer of STATIM Sterilizers and related infection control products http://statim.us/

Organizations
Currently serving on the APP Board of Directors as President, formerly as Global Media Director 2013-2014, International Liaison 2010-13, Treasurer 1997-99. Over fifteen years with ASTM and APP.

Publications
The Point Journal of the Association of Professional Piercers, USA Today, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta Magazine, Creative Loafing

Education/Credentials
I regularly participate and teach in many APP and related body art educational programs. I keep current certifications for OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens, First Aid, and CPR.

Awards and Honors
APP President's Award, Best Freehand Piercer, Best of Atlanta

Past/Present Clients
Tens of thousands of one on one client experiences as the founder of Piercing Experience in Atlanta, GA, USA http://www.piercing.org/ *Body jewelry design and safety expert: Member ASTM committee F04(www.astm.org)and former Member AAMI (www.aami.org) Research advisor and educator for the APP for over a decade(www.safepiercing.org) teaching advanced studio setup, sterilization and equipment management, freehand piercing, aseptic/sterile technique and much more. Distributor and Body Art expert for SciCan StatIM sterilization and infection control products. http://statim.us/ and http://piercers.com/

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