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High Quality? Part 11 – Rings and Bars

“Can i get a ring to start?” – We hear this everyday at Rogue. We love the classic look of a ring too but when starting a fresh piercing there are some caveats that must be followed to get the piercing to heal smoothly. This weeks blog is aimed at explaining how rings and bars effect the healing process.

Pressure

Rings and Bars - Image showing an angled stud
A well placed piercing sits at 90 degrees to the skin

Pressure is the enemy of a healing piercing and can come from sleeping on a piercing, wearing tight fitting clothing, the shape of the jewellery and so much more. Pressure on a fresh piercing will cause the piercing to become irritated and swell. Rings and bars can both suffer from pressure issues if the piercing isn’t cared for carefully.

For a piercing to heal well the piercing should enter and exit the body at 90 degrees to the skin. If the piercing doesn’t sit perpendicular (90 degrees) to the skin then there is a high chance of irritation bumps forming as well as an extended healing period due to the pressure being exerted on the entry and exit points. This pressure is constantly pulling and stretching the piercing channel and slowing down the healing process.

Rings and Bars - Image showing an angled stud
An angled piercing will lead to unsightly irritation bumps and a harder heal

Experienced piercers will even be able to predict where irritation bumps will form from the position of a poorly placed piercing. The bumps form to try and make the entry and exit points of a piercing to become 90 degrees and remove the pressure from the wound. The image to the right shows an angled bar piercing. The red areas show where the jewellery is exerting pressure on the body and the purple bumps show where irritation bumps would form.

Sleeping on a fresh piercing or wearing tight fitting clothing over a fresh piercing can cause a well placed piercing to become angled from constant pressure on the body. Once the piercing angle has been altered there will be a continuous pressure from the jewellery and there is a high likelihood of bumps forming. This is why piercers stress the importance of not sleeping on piercings until they are fully healed.

Drainage

Rings and Bars - Image showing a small diameter ring
A small ring will not block the bodies drainage and increase pressure on the wound leading to irritation bumps

As piercings heal they secrete body fluids. This secretion is a good thing as it is sealing the body from the outside world and preventing pathogens getting in and causing an infection. Excess secretion needs to be cleaned away during the healing phase to keep a piercing happy and looking good. The body will continue to produce secretion until it has grown fresh skin around the jewellery. The choice of jewellery can greatly affect how much secretion the body produces and for how long.

Piercers will generally recommend bars over rings for initial piercing jewellery as the diameter of the ring can affect how well the body is able to drain away secretion through the entry and exit points. If the jewellery is tight the body will not be able to drain and the piercing will become swollen. This swelling can cause jewellery to embed (bars) or to start a vicious cycle as the swelling causes more pressure (ring). The red area on the small ring image shows where secretion would build up due to being unable to drain.

Jewellery Size

Rings and Bars - Image showing a large diameter ring
A larger ring will minimise pressure and drainage issues

It is possible to start a piercing with a ring but to combat pressure and drainage issues the ring is generally much larger than snug style that we all love. If you have your heart set on a ring then the best course of action is to start with a stud and change out to a ring once the piercing has healed enough. If you really want to start with a ring then a larger diameter could be an option but this comes with it’s own downsides.

Larger pieces of jewellery have a higher snag risk. Snags, bumps and knocks can cause trauma to a healing piercing and this could set you back to day 1 or cause unsightly bumps to form.

Rotation

During aftercare your piercer will tell you not to rotate or twist your jewellery. This is because the jewellery will drag dry secretion and potentially pathogens through the piercing channel. When the piercing is fresh this could damage the piercing channel or cause an infection. A piercing with a ring has a higher likelihood of rotating through a piercing than a stud. It is possible to minimise this rotation by using jewellery such as BCR’s. The ball will cause a heavier side of the ring that gravity will pull down. This will minimise the rotation risk but it will not negate it all together.

Conclusion

Bars are the recommended starting jewellery for most piercings. There are a few exceptions such as daith, septum and PA but they have different anatomical considerations. The best way to get that snug fitting gold nose ring we all love would be to start with a stud and switch out once the piercing is well on it’s way to being healed. If you are determined to have a ring then a larger diameter, strict cleaning regime and even stricter no touching policy will be required. Whichever rings and bars you choose for your piercing the quality of the jewellery will greatly affect the bodies ability to heal as well as keep away the dreaded irritation bump. Keep it high quality.

For a more detailed look at using rings in piercings check out Jef Saunders Blog Post

Thanks for reading folks! Next week we will be looking into irritation bumps in more detail. Have a good week!

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