Saturday, May 15, 2010

Color Me Confused

A few days ago, I posted to my wall my intent to finally, after 22 years of vascillating, get my nose pierced. Oh I can hear some of you sucking your teeth, while some simply roll your eyes. Those who know me, however, are surely just shaking your collective heads and chalking it up to yet another knee-jerk reaction on my part to this whole aging thing. Whatever the reaction, know this--it hurt. And another thing: don't expect to find consensus on the part of ANYONE in the entire piercing community. Indulge me while I explain.

Getting a body piercing these days is no longer sitting with a friend wielding a needle and some iodine. It is damn near ceremonial. The production includes rubber gloves, sterile tubes, hollow needles, surgical steel jewelry and a grand finale that brings tears to grown men's eyes. I wish I could say it stops there, but actually that is merely the beginning of a long road known to anyone with body manipulation as "aftercare." If you thought politicians were the consumate group of those unable to agree, you've never met a group of piercers. When you leave the studio, sporting whatever new addition you've decided upon, you're handed a sheet of "rules" and told to follow them--to the letter. The implication is dire--if you do NOT follow the "rules", you will surely end up with an infection that will slowly eat away at your flesh until there's nothing left, or, at the least, you'll wind up on some "Piercing Wall of Shame", where everyone will have the opportunity to look upon you with great scorn, point and laugh. I held close the coveted "rule sheet" and headed home to troll the internet. When I hit the first webpage of information about my new piercing, I knew I was in trouble.

The golden rule sheet I was given at the studio stated the following:

Cleanse the piercing with a sea salt solution 3-5 times daily 

The page I was looking at on the web, however, read like this:

CAUTION: Sea salt can dry out your piercing and is NOT recommended.

Hmmm. I did indeed find that curious, but it didn't stop there.

My golden role sheet:

We do not recommend rotating your jewelry, as this will cause the tissue that is healing to be even futher traumatized .

An online site:

Jewelry should be rotated once or twice while applying solution during each cleaning.

And then the contradictions started coming hard and fast:

Do not use any type of ointment on the piercing- to include A&D, bacitracin, Neosporin, bactine- because it can smother a piercing.

Bactine is an appropriate cleaning agent for facial piercings

Healing will take three to six weeks, after which time you may change your jewelry.

Your piercing will need at least three to six months to heal. Do NOT attempt to change your jewelry until after at LEAST the third month!

Nose studs that are considered "screws" are the best jewelry to use initially in your piercing.

NEVER use screw type nose studs until your piercing is completely healed.

Do not wear sterling silver in a new/healing pierced nose!

Start with a sterling silver stud for the first four to six weeks.


There were more--many more--and each new page brought new revelations and a plethora of contradiction. My new piercing is throbbing, the sea salt either helping or harming (I'm still not clear), and I'm somehow convinced that somewhere, in a dark room far away, sits a group of professional piercers, all outfitted in black, laughing their asses off at the ambiguity they've created.

And so here I sit, in a state of profound confusion, flying by the seat of my pants and contemplating a new tattoo. I think I'll go and do a little research....

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