The History of Body Piercings – Ancient and Fascinating Around the World

Body piercings have seen a resurgence of interest in the last ten to twenty years and are becoming more and more a part of the mainstream Western culture. Take a look at any fashion or entertainment magazine and you’ll see plenty of well-known celebrities with body piercings like navel rings or a labret. You might be surprised to find out that piercing is actually an ancient form of expression that most cultures have practiced at some time or other for thousands of years. Egyptian body piercings reflected status and love of beauty The earliest known mummified remains of a human that was pierced is over 5,000 years old. This worthy gentleman had his ears pierced with larger-gauge plugs in his ears, so plugs may be one of the oldest forms of body modification there is! We also know that the Egyptians loved to adorn themselves elaborately, and even restricted certain types of body piercings to the royal family. In fact, only pharaoh himself could have his navel pierced. Any one else who tried to get a belly button ring could be executed. (Tell that to Britney Spears!) Almost every well-to-do Egyptian wore earrings, though, to display their wealth and accent their beauty. Elaborate enameled and gold earrings frequently portrayed items in nature such as lotus blossoms. Body piercings are also mentioned in the Bible. In the Old Testament it’s obvious that body jewelry is considered a mark of beauty and wealth, especially for Bedouin and nomadic tribes. In many cases, body jewelry was given as a bridal gift or as part of a dowry. It is clear that piercing was a sign of status and attractiveness in Biblical times. Romans were practical piercers Romans were very practical people, and for them piercing almost always served a purpose. Roman centurions pierced their nipples not because they liked the way it looked, but to signify their strength and virility. It was a badge of honor that demonstrated the centurion’s dedication to the Roman Empire. As a symbol, it was important and served a specific function, unifying and bonding the army. Even Julius Caesar pierced his nipples to show his strength and his identification with his men. Genital piercing through the head of the penis was performed on gladiators, who were almost always slaves, for two reasons. A ring through the head of the penis could be used to tie the organ back to the testicles with a length of leather. In gladiatorial combat, this prevented serious injury. With a large enough ring or bar, it also prevented the slave from having sex without the owner’s consent. Since the gladiator was “property,” a stud fee could be charged to another slave owner for the highly prized opportunity to raise the next generation of great fighter. Making love or war, piercing makes it better Going across the ocean at around the same time, the Aztecs, Maya and some American Indians practiced tongue piercing as part of their religious rituals. It was thought to bring them closer to their gods and was a type of ritual blood-letting. The Aztec and Maya were warrior tribes, and also practiced septum piercing in order to appear fiercer to their enemies. Nothing looks quite as frightening as an opponent sporting a huge boar tusk thrust through his nose!

This practice was also common among tribes in New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Some of the materials commonly used were bone, tusks and feathers. Hundreds of years later, French fur trappers in Washington State discovered American Indian tribes who wore bones through their septum and called them the Nez Perce, meaning “Pierced Noses” in French. It’s interesting that civilizations separated by thousands of miles and even centuries often developed a love for the same kind of body piercings to enhance certain features, isn’t it?

In Central and South America, lip labrets were popular for purely aesthetic reasons – women with pierced lips were considered more attractive. In fact, the holes were often stretched to incredible size as progressively larger wooden plates were inserted to emphasize the lips as much as possible. (Kind of like collagen today). The Aztecs and Maya also sported lip labrets of gold and jade, many of them elaborately carved into mythical or religious figures or sporting gemstones. These were seen as highly attractive and to enhance sexuality. As the world moved into the dark ages, interest in piercing died down somewhat and the medieval church began to condemn it as sinful. For a few hundred years, Western civilization abandoned the practice. As the Renaissance went into full swing, however, interest in piercing began to pick up again. A new era and a new interest in body piercings Sailors became convinced that piercing one ear would improve their long-distance site, and so the site of a sailor with a gold or brass ring became common. Word also spread that should a sailor be washed ashore after a shipwreck, the finder should keep the gold ring in exchange for providing a proper Christian burial. Sailors were both religious and superstitious, so they generally spent a lot for a large gold earring to hedge their bets. Men became much more fashion-conscious during the Renaissance and Elizabethan eras, and almost any male member of the nobility would have at least one earring, if not more. Large pearl drops and enormous diamond studs were a great way to advertise your wealth and standing in the community. It could also designate royal favor if your earring was a gift from a member of the royal family. Women, not wanting to be outshone by the men in all their finery, began to wear plunging necklines, with the Queen of Bavaria introducing the most outrageous, which consisted of not much at all above the waist. In order to adorn themselves, women began piercing their nipples to show off their jewelry. Soon they began wearing chains and even strands of pearls draped between the two.

Men and women both discovered that these nipple piercings were also delightful playthings in bed, adding sensitivity to the breasts and giving the men both visual and tactile stimulation. Men began getting pierced purely for pleasure as well. While not entirely mainstream, piercing of the nipples and, occasionally, the genitals, continued to hold interest for members of the upper crust of society in Europe on and off for the next few hundred years. The next resurgence of interest was, surprisingly, during the Victorian age, which is usually seen as very repressed. Prince Albert, future husband of Queen Victoria, is said to have gotten the penis piercing that is named after him in order wear the tight-fitting trousers so popular at the time. The ring could then be attached to a hook on the inside of one pant leg, tucked safely away between the legs for a neat, trim look. Although we have no record of Victoria’s response to the piercing itself, there is ample evidence she was wildly in love with her husband and almost never left his side after their marriage! Soon, Victorian men were getting Prince Albert’s, frenums and a variety of other piercings purely for the pleasurable sexual effects, and women were doing the same. By the 1890′s, it was almost expected that a woman would have her nipples pierced. In fact, some doctors at the time suggested it improved conditions for breastfeeding, although not all agreed. It was an interesting double standard — plenty of people were doing it, but no one was talking about it. Modern-day body piercings In the last hundred years or so, body piercings in the Western world have mostly been limited to the ears, a standard hold-over from the fact that both men and women wore earrings during Elizabethan times. The Puritan movement did away with men wearing earrings, however, and it didn’t really regain popularity until recently. Nose rings found new interest when young people (they were called hippies then) from the U.S. began traveling in India extensively looking for enlightenment in the 1960′s. They noticed the nostril rings that most women had been wearing there since the sixteenth century. In India, this was a form of traditional, accepted adornment and was often linked to an earring by a chain. For rebellious teens from America, it was a great form of rebellion. After bringing nose piercings back to the U.S., the interest in body piercings of all kinds quickly caught on during the 1980′s and 1990′s. Celebrities, sports stars and singers all began sporting a variety of piercings. Soon, high school students and even stay-at-home moms were flashing new body piercings. And the rest, as they say, is history! This article on the “History of Body Piercings” reprinted with permission.
Copyright 2004 Evaluseek Publishing.

Do’s and Don’ts When Going for Ear Stretching for the First Time

If done the wrong way, ear stretching can give you unbearable pain, and can even kill your ears, (yes, literally!). Ear stretching is the latest trend, in which, one punctures and stretches one’s ear lobes, to an extreme level, wears a stylish carved jewelry (as plugs and tunnels) in the stretched part. Some traditionalists believe that it is irksome or disturbing, but gauged ears look pretty appealing and attractive. However, this body art should be done very carefully. If you are going to stretch your ear lobes for the first time, here are a few Dos and Don’ts to follow. But before we proceed to that, let us have a look at some consideration, before you step into a professional body art workshop -

There’s no looking back! When you get your earlobes stretched, remember that it is a permanent fix, your old natural ears would never return. It is also true with piercing. Cosmetic surgery is the only possible repair for stretched ears. So, before you go for ear stretching, you should make up your mind, and decide, if you really want this or not.

Consult a renowned body art center – If some accident occurs, because of the mishandling or the lack of experience of the piercer, you wouldn’t be able to get your old natural ears back. To avoid such (and any) mishaps, visiting a professional piercer is always advisable.

Dos and Don’ts

Being a newcomer to the ear stretching fashion, there must be running around some rumors, in your mind, which you heard from someone, or one of the friends or relatives of someone. Well, if you have decided to stretch your earlobes, you should approach with a positive frame of mind. Here are some clear suggestions or Dos and Don’ts -

Suggested Material – Surgical stainless steel is considered as the best material for ear plugs or body art jewelries, for the first timers. After the stretching is healed, you can wear charms made up of any material.

Recommended Size – ‘Slow and steady wins the race’ is one of the most heard stories of all time. When stretching your ears for the first time, you can use the tapers starting from 14G to 18G, based on the structuring of your ears and lobes.

Reducing the Pain – There are a number of solutions – like composition of Karanja oil and Jojoba Oil – which you can apply while inserting the drill through your lobes. These are naturally medicated oils that lower the pain during the procedure, and help healing the skin more quickly. You should never use any water base solution while stretching your earlobes.

Bleeding - If it bleeds, you should stop, and wait for the injury to recover completely. Ideally, there are very less chances of bleeding, but when it happens, you should discontinue it for a while.

Body Piercing Aftercare & Healing Essentials

The most important thing to keep in mind after your body piercing has been performed is that you have essentially just sustained an open wound, and you should be caring for it exactly like you would a surgical wound or injury. That is, with the same kind of care, cleanliness and attention that you would to a serious injury to make sure that you don’t scar or get an infection. There are two different types of body piercings to consider: non-oral and oral.

Non-oral body piercing aftercare Keeping your piercing clean can’t be stressed too much! It just can’t. Twice a day, every day, without fail. No excuses. Use a mild antibacterial soap that doesn’t have fragrances in it, such as Provon® Antimicrobial Lotion Soap or Satin® Therapeutic Skin Cleanser, both of which are approved by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP). The best place to clean your piercing is usually in the shower, where the warm water will help you loosen and remove those crusties around the base of your jewelry. Use a cotton swab or a Kleenex to remove these, and then throw the swab or Kleenex away. Never use a washcloth — these things are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria! The same for bath towels after your shower! Then, with clean hands, gently cleanse the area with the soap and turn the jewelry so that the soap gets in the piercing and let this sit for a minute or two. After rotating it again, rinse thoroughly with warm, clear water. Make sure you get all of the soap out to prevent irritation. The rinsing is very important, so try to be thorough without irritating the area. It often helps to cup your hands and drizzle water over the area, since the shower stream can be a little too hard to aim directly on the area. Don’t forget your sea salt soaks After cleansing, a sea salt soak helps to draw out any piercing infection and impurities while soothing the area and calming any inflammation that may be present. Mix about ¼ teaspoon of sea salt with 8 ounces of warm water. Using a disposable cup, soak your piercing in this for ten minutes the first time, and five minutes each time after that. If your piercing is in a location that makes this difficult, apply the solution with cotton swabs, tissues or some other disposable product that’s soft and clean. Never use a hanky, washcloth or any other item that is going to be reused. Always pat your piercings dry with cotton balls, cotton swabs or tissues — don’t rub them, pat them. This reduces irritation and possible tearing of the skin and helps promote healing. Although it seems to be a minor step, keeping your piercings dry is actually an essential part of piercing aftercare because it reduces the opportunities for bacteria to breed (they love a warm, moist place to play). If you aren’t sure about mixing your sea salt soaks properly or it’s too inconvenient, there’s a new alternative on the market that’s less messy and is portable. H2Ocean® Piercing Aftercare Spray is a pre-mixed sea salt solution containing lysozyme, a natural antibacterial that is gentle to the skin. Simply spray it on the area and allow to drip dry; it’s easy to use because of their patent-pending compressed air delivery system that produces a fine mist. This product is guaranteed to heal navel piercings in only a month and a half if used regularly and is highly recommended by numerous piercing communities like BME and Prick magazine. H2Ocean® also comes in a portable size for your pocket or purse, which makes piercing aftercare away from home easier. X-pressions Piercing Aftercare Spray is also available for both oral and non-oral body piercings and is a mild antibacterial solution with purified water in a non-aerosol, pump spray with a pleasant, peppermint flavor. Once a day (not more often, because you’ll be unnecessarily irritating the area), check that the ends of your piercing jewelry are firmly screwed on. But wash your hands with antibacterial soap first. And now, a few “don’ts”

  • Don’t ever put hydrogen peroxide or alcohol on a piercing — they are too drying and will delay healing.
  • Don’t ever use Neosporin on a piercing — it can actually trap bacteria. Read the label; it actually says, “Not for puncture wounds.” Guess what? A piercing is a puncture wound.
  • Don’t ever remove your piercing jewelry before the piercing is completely healed, which may take months or up to a year. If you suspect a piercing infection, see your piercing professional or doctor first.
  • Don’t sleep on your piercing until the initial healing phase is over.
  • Don’t wear tight clothing over your piercing during the initial healing phase.

Oral piercing aftercare During the first three to six weeks after an oral piercing, rinse your mouth with an antibacterial agent after every meal to kill bacteria and make sure not tiny food particles aren’t lodged around your piercing just waiting to fester and turn into problems later. There are several excellent products on the market for this, including APP recommended Biotene and Tech2000 Dental Rinse; these have the proper ingredients and have the right potency to get the job done without being too strong. Don’t bother with mouthwash, because it’s not strong enough to do anything but cover your bad breath, which won’t be much consolation when you have a swollen, tender tongue because of improper aftercare. You can also use a commercial antibacterial rinse, but dilute it so that it isn’t too strong. If your tongue develops a whitish or yellowish look, your mouth rinse is too strong and will slow healing. Sea salt rinses … ahh! Mix the familiar warm water solution of 8 ounces water to ¼ teaspoon sea salt and swish this in your mouth for 15-20 seconds after drinking anything other than water and after smoking. It’s not only an aid to healing, but can be very soothing to the pierced area. If your oral piercing is sore or swollen, you can find some relief by allowing crushed ice to melt in your mouth. Popsicles, ice cream and the like also work, but will need to be followed up, like everything else, with a sea salt rinse (or H2Ocean®). Brush, brush, brush You can keep your tongue and piercing as clean as you want, but if you don’t brush your teeth well, you’ll still have millions of bacteria in your mouth. Try to brush your teeth three times a day during the first several weeks of healing. Buy a new soft-bristle brush that will be gentle on your piercing. Don’t use a brush that you’ve already used before your piercing, as it will harbor old germs. You should also gently brush the balls on the ends of your piercing jewelry to prevent the natural build-up of plaque on your jewelry. Oral piercing “don’ts”

  • Don’t smoke, chew gum or use snuff or rub during the healing period; these increase the risk of piercing infections astronomically.
  • Don’t play with the piercing jewelry or click it against your teeth; this can cause cracking of your tooth enamel.
  • Don’t engage in any activities, including kissing, that exchange body fluids during the initial healing period of several weeks.

General tips to improve healing success Proper piercing aftercare is the primary reason for a successfully healed body modification, but your overall health and how well you take care of yourself is also a contributing factor. If you are run-down or your immune system is compromised, you will not heal as quickly and you will be more prone to infection. For that reason, you should keep in mind a few things whenever you have any kind of piercing in order to help ensure that your piercing aftercare measures are given the best chance of success:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Eight glasses of day at the very least.
  • At least eight hours of sleep a night
  • Try to limit the amount of stress in your life
  • Vitamin C and Zinc supplements to help speed the healing process
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables, and a multi-vitamin if needed
  • If the pain bothers you, take Ibuprofen. If you are comfortable, you are less likely to fidget with the piercing.

Signs of trouble Even with excellent piercing aftercare, there will be some swelling at the site of a piercing for a few days. You’ll also have some clear, watery discharge and perhaps some mild bleeding. The bleeding will usually stop within 24 hours, while the discharge may last for several days or weeks. This is simply drainage of the wound and actually helps prevent piercing infection. Signs that the piercing is in trouble include:

  • Discharge that becomes noticeably thicker and is yellow or green in color. This is a sign or infection and should be checked by a doctor.
  • Inflammation that lasts longer than a few days, with redness and irritation. See your piercing professional or doctor.
  • Red streaks from the piercing site and a fever, along with body aches. See your doctor.
  • Hives, redness, itching and irritation around the piercing, which may signal an allergic reaction to the piercing jewelry. Your piercing professional can try replacing it with an alternative metal.
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing after your piercing, or a feeling that your mouth or throat are swelling closed. Seek emergency attention immediately!

So how long does all this healing take? If you perform your piercing aftercare properly, your body piercing will heal cleanly and leave you with a beautiful new piercing with no scarring, migration or keloids. The time it takes to achieve this, however, will vary depending upon what kind of piercing it is. The general timeframes listed below are just for reference. All of these depend upon your individual body’s response, how much stress you are under and a thousand other variables. Earlobe or Eyebrow: 6 – 8 weeks
Genitals: 4 weeks – 4 months
Labret/Lip: 6 – 8 weeks
Navel: 6 – 18 months
Nipple: 3 – 6 months
Nostril: 3 months – 1 year
Septum: 6 – 8 weeks
Tongue: 4 – 6 weeks
Cartilage: 3 months – 1 year Disclaimer: All piercing aftercare information provided herein is for information purposes only. It is not meant to be a guideline for body piercing aftercare, but a starting point in making an informed decision concerning body piercing. If you have any questions or proceed with a body piercing, please be sure to discuss the procedure with a medical or piercing professional and get complete and clearly understood piercing aftercare instructions at that time. Evaluseek Publishing claims no responsibility for the accuracy of this content, which is based on the general consensus of the piercing community, which is constantly evolving and changing. This article on the “Body Piercing Aftercare & Healing Essentials” reprinted with permission.
Copyright © 2004 Evaluseek Publishing.

Surgical Steel Body Jewelry – Three Reasons Why Surgical Steel Body Jewelry is Your Best Choice

Are you interested in wearing body jewelry to give you a unique, fashionable look? If so, you should be aware of the many types that are available, and which are safest and most durable. Here are three reasons why you should put surgical steel body jewelry at or near the top of your list…

Varieties Of Body Jewelry Available

Much like traditional jewelry, body jewelry comes in many different styles, compositions, and price ranges. The most common is gold and gold plated. Solid gold, of course, is more expensive than gold plated. Organic, plastic, and glass are other types you will see.

Also popular is silver and steel. These minerals are relatively easy for jewelry craftsmen to work with, so you will find a lot of these on the market. What is important to understand is which are safest for you, your skin, and your piercings.

In general, plated pieces are the most prone to giving you unwanted skin problems and infections. You can generally tell by looking at their price tag or by asking a few simple questions. Most body jewelry costing less than five to ten dollars is plated, either with gold, silver, or steel.

Then again, some pieces crafted from glass or plastic are also in this price range, so it is best to ask before you buy. Glass and plastic are safer than plated items, but they are nowhere near as durable as those made from surgical steel, for example. We always recommend surgical steel body jewelry, especially for those on a limited budget. Here are the three main reasons why…

Surgical Steel Helps You Avoid Skin Problems

Surgical steel is a very high grade metal, and as the name suggests, it is frequently used in the medical profession where hygiene and safety are at a premium. If you buy from a reputable online source, you will get the best grade of surgical steel available.

The key is avoiding possible skin irritations and painful infections from buying plated or cheap pieces. Common sense precautions also come into play, like not letting anyone else wear your jewelry, nor borrowing any from someone else.

Reasonable Cost

You can buy body jewelry for as little as one dollar, and some pieces with precious stones run several hundred dollars. If you are on a budget, surgical steel items are ideal. Typically, you can get a durable, good looking piece for fifteen to twenty dollars.

Further, items made from this type of steel are available for any area of your body. Because it is increasing in popularity, you will find more and more selection of interesting and unique designs.

Durability

Steel is one of the most durable elements you can buy. Surgical steel is even stronger, so the item you buy will last for years.

Many other varieties of body jewelry will chip, fade, or tarnish. This is especially true with plated gold, silver, and plastic. Given their other risks, plated items in particular will not provide you any long lasting value.

Summary

Of the many varieties of body jewelry available, we recommend surgical steel as one of the safest, most economical choices. In general, you can find pieces in the fifteen to twenty dollar range, without fear of skin irritations or infections from cheaper grade metals.

Also, items made with this type of steel will last indefinitely. You can expect to own a fashionable, trendy item you can enjoy for years.