Body Piercing |  Jewelry and Safety

Ritual or decorative body piercing is extremely popular as a form of self-expression. Different types of materials are used to make body piercing jewelry including ferromagnetic and no ferromagnetic metals, as well as non-metallic materials. Risks include uncomfortable sensations from movement or displacement that may be mild-to-moderate depending on the site of the body piercing and the ferromagnetic qualities of the jewelry (e.g., mass, degree of magnetic susceptibility, etc.). In extreme cases, serious injuries may occur.

Therefore, if it is not possible to remove metallic body piercing jewelry, the patient or individual should be informed regarding the potential risks. In addition, if the body piercing jewelry is made from ferromagnetic material, some means of stabilization (e.g., application of adhesive tape or bandage) should be used to prevent movement or displacement.

To avoid potential heating of body piercing jewelry made from conductive materials, the use of gauze, tape, or other similar material should be used to wrap the jewelry in such a manner as to insulate it (i.e., prevent contact) from the underlying skin is recommended.

Piercing jewelry removal may lead to closure of the subcutaneous tract.

Therefore, temporary replacement with a nonmetallic spacer may be indicated. This can be accomplished using the following procedure, as it was applied to umbilical piercing jewelry:

Disinfect the piercing and umbilical area with 70% isopropyl alcohol,

Open the piercing jewelry by removing the bead from the bar,

Place the tip of a tight-fitting intravenous catheter (14 or 16 gauge, without the needle) over the threaded tip of the bar,

Advance the intravenous catheter caudally, pushing the piercing out of the skin tract, and

Remove the jewelry and leaving the intravenous catheter in the subcutaneous skin tract as a spacer.

It's nice to know that piercing jewelry located in other areas on the body may be replaced in the same way, with minor modifications. Of course, the above procedure must only be accomplished under the guidance and direction of a physician.