Painful Self Expression

Painful self expression

Body piercing is both an art and science. An art form since it is a means to express oneself. And a science since body piercing also involves some basic knowledge on metal properties. Regardless, body jewelry has become more of a fashion in the past decades for both men and women.

Various subcultures have emerged that uses to full extent body piercing and body jewelry. These include the emergence of the hippies and gay communities and the newer punk subculture.

Materials used for body jewelry production have evolved from the traditional gold and silver to the now more common surgical steel. Other newer materials used include titanium, glass, plastic, wood, horn, amber, stone, bamboo, silicone, fossilized ivories, tusks and other bones. Nowadays, the material itself is a statement of originality, uniqueness and self expression.

You already know about the usual materials used for body jewelry. These are gold, white gold, sterling silver, stainless surgical steel, platinum and titanium. It would be best now to look at the different types of materials used as forms of alternatives for the more expensive metals. Glass and plastic are some materials used for body jewelry.

However, it is important to know that not all glass and not all plastics can be fashioned into body jewelry. Glass suitable for body jewelry are only limited to borosilicate glass. Pyrex and Kimax are popular makers of these types of glass. Borosilicate glass is the only type of glass suitable for body jewelry since they are tempered, medical-grade, non-porous and lead-free. Glass jewelry is non-toxic and is bio-compatible.

However, glass jewelry is used for only on well-healed piercing. Also, glass is heavy and the use of big chunks of which can create more strain on the piercing causing involuntary stretching and healing problems.

Plastics on the other hand come in various forms like Acrylic, Nylon, Teflon (PTFE), Silicone, Polymer, Lucite, Resin, Polyamide and Polyester. It is said that acrylic is the best plastic that could be used for body jewelry. Not only is acrylic inexpensive, it is versatile and lightweight as well.

The problem with acrylic and plastics in general is that they are not autoclavable. This means that body jewelry made from plastic is not truly safe since there is no true safe way to sterilize them. And even if bio-compatible, acrylic jewelry can cause redness, irritation and bad odor on the piercing since it doesn't allow the piercing to breathe. Generally, plastics are not suitable as piercing jewelry and should only be worn in short-term and in a well-healed piercing.

Some jewelers and body jewel crafters used rubber and silicone to fashion body jewelry. Studies have shown that rubber and silicone can be used as body jewelry. However, they should never be used for piercing and even for unhealed ones. The main danger in using silicon is that it auto-stretches.

This creates problems like tearing or over-stretching of the hole. Plus silicon's flexibility tends to seal the skin around the piercing. Because the hole is sealed, it doesn't allow the hole to breathe and heal and causes the build-up of bodily discharges which eventually will cause irritations and severe infections.

Other body jewelries are made from other natural products such as wood, stones and even ivories and bones. They are beautiful and their exotic feel creates a different appeal. They come in different colors and styles. Care should be taken however when using such body jewelry.

They should never be used for fresh piercing since the uneven surface can serve as beds of bacteria causing a wide range of infections. These types of jewelries are reserved for well-healed piercing only.


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