Safe Metals for Body Piercing

by Ritika Changrani

Body piercing is a manifestation of your need to be different. Timely safety precautions will ensure that it is a source of joy and pride. Prudence must be exercised while choosing the correct metal for this. Spare no expense as it's your own body you are experimenting with.

SAFE METALS FOR YOUR BODY PIERCING - ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING DIFFERENT METALS USED FOR BODY PIERCING JEWELRY

So, you have finally decided to take the plunge. Body piercing may turn out to be one of the best decisions of your life or one that you may bitterly regret. Its all a matter of your approach towards the vital safety factors. Before you get your body pierced you should have detailed knowledge about its pros and cons. There are certain factors that need due attention. An important question that arises is - What is the correct metal to be used for body piercing?

You may feel that a piercer knows best and will give you the right jewelry. However, you should be familiar with the various types of metals used and their degree of suitability. The first thing to consider is your allergic reactions. Never use a metal that you are allergic to, just because everybody advocates it. In the long run it may cause infections that leave you scarred forever.

All metals that are used in body piercing must necessarily be biologically inert. This means that they should be non-reactive and be compatible to the human body.

There are specific metals that should be used for body piercing.

Gold

It is the safest but the most expensive metal. Normally18K gold is used. Both white and yellow gold are secure. 14K gold is a cheaper but risky alternative as it is alloyed with other metals. You must make sure that you are not allergic to them before piercing. Nowadays nickel-free 9K gold is also available, which is a safe option.

Surgical Stainless Steel (Implant Grade)

This grade of steel is widely used in knee and hip replacement surgery and hence is irrefutably inert. It looks silver but is in fact steel. In some places however, the use of this metal in piercing is banned.

Surgical Titanium (Implant Grade)

This is the general choice as it is inexpensive. Electric current is passed through this metal to give it colour. The colour will eventually fade but is ideal for a short-term use. It is advised if you frequently like to change your jewelry. Wearing it for an extended period of time may give rise to complications.

Niobium

Niobium is an element not a metal alloy, hence it is not harmful. It is very biocompatible i.e. usually well accepted by the human body.

PVD (Aztec Gold)

This is used in pacemakers as it does not react with the body nor does it discolor. It is lightweight in nature and a good substitute for gold if your body is sensitive to metals.

Tygon

This is a special type of plastic and not a metal. It should be used only if you are extremely allergic to all types of metals. In case of pregnant women, any metal naval piercing should be removed and a tygon ring worn. As the body grows, metals will eventually be rejected. Tygon being plastic poses no harm as it is flexible and will bend as the body changes shape.

The safety factor of a metal is determined by its nickel content. Baser metals are a greater threat to your body. Given below are some metals which are a strict no-no as the risk factor is immense.

Dont use below metals

Sterling silver

Its oxidation property renders it harmful for use. It has been known to react with body tissues and fluids.

Lead

The risk of lead poisoning is very high and should be avoided at all costs.

Plated gold or gold filled jewelry

The plating will flake off and expose the inner metal layer which may not be of inert variety, thus causing infection. Such jewelry must never be used.

Iron

Iron is a very reactive metal and rusts easily. Rust may turn the wound septic creating a mammoth problem.

Low grade metals

like nickel, tin, copper, bronze, zinc, brass are highly inappropriate for body piercing.

Making an incorrect decision regarding the metal may lead to a host of problems. The most common after-effects are allergic reactions and infections. Sometimes the body totally rejects the invasion in which case the hole needs to be closed. The American Dental Association (ADA) is "against any type of oral piercing". Metal objects in the mouth can cause extensive damage to the gums and enamel surface of teeth.

The decision of choosing the right metal should be made based on the risk factor involved. Affordability comes next. Seek to achieve the correct balance between your desire and your pocket. You must never choose a ring or bar for piercing just because it is trendy, without checking out its metallic nature. Go for a simpler but safer piece. Take your own decision and don't be influenced by what the salon tells you. They may promote a particular type of metal if that is the only variety they stock.

Piercing is a huge decision, so take your time and once you've resolved to have it done, just go for it. Make your statement by standing out. When you have it, flaunt it and enjoy the envious glances of your peers.
 
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