Posts Tagged ‘Body Piercing’

Gold and Other Metals For Body Piercing Jewelry

January 5th, 2021

What metals are safe?

Don’t assume that just because a piece is sold as piercing jewelry, it’s suitable or safe for piercing. Four types of metals are safe to wear for body piercing – surgical grade stainless steel, niobium, titanium, and 14k or higher content gold. Low porosity plastic, like PTFE, is also acceptable. A note of caution with stainless steel- be careful, it must be of high quality. Much of surgical steel used by the piercing industry contains elements that cause allergic reactions.

Use of gold in piercing

Think back to the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears; one porridge was too hot, one was too cold. A middle ground is also needed when using gold for piercings. Pure gold is too soft to be used for piercings, but less pure (lower karat) gold can cause adverse reactions from the other metals. 18K (for some, 14k) gold strikes the optimal balance between purity and strength and is recommended for body jewelry.

Karat is a measure of the fineness of gold. 24 karat gold is pure gold; 18 karat gold is 18/24 gold (about 75% gold); 14 karat gold is 14/24 gold (about 58% gold); 12 karat gold is exactly half gold.

Avoid gold-filled and gold-plated jewelry

Stick with a solid gold alloy, not gold-filled or gold-plated. Gold-plated jewelry is made by electroplating a thin layer of gold over a cheaper metal. Gold-filled jewelry is made by rolling a very thin layer of gold onto a base metal that contains copper or nickel. While this jewelry may initially have the same great look as gold and be at an appealing price, problems will ensue. Gold plating is usually thin and wears off quickly, bringing the nickel or other base metal to the surface. The rough edges caused by the flaking will also irritate the piercing.

Only solid gold should be used, not hollow tubing which can be harbor bacteria.

What is a metal allergy?

Metal allergy (or metal dermatitis) is caused by jewelry that contains too much nickel or another irritating alloy. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, metal falls right behind poison ivy as the most common form of allergic contact dermatitis. Symptoms of metal allergy typically occur within 6 to 24 hours of exposure to the offending material. Complaints can include itching, burning, and tenderness. The rash and/or redness normally appear only at the contact site. The entrance and exit holes of the piercing will enlarge and become irritated in the body’s attempt to rid itself of the allergen.

You can differentiate a metal allergy from other problems, since it will look like the tissue is moving away from the offending metal. In this way the opening of the piercing will appear larger than the size of the jewelry.