The Art of Piercing


By: Megan Clark
Campus Life Editor

Body modifications, such as piercings and tattoos, are becoming increasingly popular as a way to further explore personal style.

Body piercing is an ancient art that has been around for a long time. According to The Human Touch of Chemistry’s website, nostril piercing has been documented as first occurring in the Middle East around 4,000 years ago.

Piercings have been used to signify sociopolitical status; in Rome, septum piercings symbolized a gladiator’s strength, while in Egypt, a belly button piercing signified godliness and was often worn by pharaohs.

In parts of Malawi and Ethiopia, women often wear discs in their lips that may act as a sign of social or economic importance in the tribe. Their lips are initially pierced with a small wooden peg in their teenage years, but they increase the size of the jewelry throughout their lives, the hand crafted clay discs used reach up to nearly eight inches in diameter.

This process of increasing the size of a piercing is called stretching or gauging and should be done slowly and carefully in order to not tear the skin.

While it’s not common to see people walking around with piercings as large as those worn by the Malawi and Ethiopian women, more unusual piercings, such as the septum and the philtrum (the dimple that sits above the cupid’s bow on the upper lip) are becoming more popular.

Now nearly every part of the body can be pierced or implanted with something called a “micro-dermal” or “dermal.”

While piercing involves taking a sterilized needle and inserting it through skin or cartilage, a micro-dermal involves cutting a tiny hole into the surface of the skin. This makes room for an anchor that goes below the skin and looks similar to a tiny screw with a flat base. The screw-end sticks out of the hole so that different heads (gems, studs, etc.) can be screwed on.

Dermals, however, have a high rejection rate and can easily get infected or ripped out since they are on the surface of the body.

You should be careful with most piercings, as getting infections or getting them caught on things is a very real worry. Proper care should be taken, even after the piercing has healed. The tiniest snag could result in an infection if not well-taken care of.

While piercings may hurt and could get infected, certain piercings have been thought to have medical benefits.

When the nostril piercing came to India in the 16th century it was believed that it would act as a form of acupuncture and aid in childbirth.

Recently, certain ear piercings called the “daith” and “tragus” have been believed to alleviate migraines, though little scientific research has been done to support this.

While these piercings may or may not have any health benefit, they have the added benefit of contributing to self-expression and personal style.

From choosing silver over gold to adorning with glittering jewels, piercings offer another jewelry choice that could add some sparkle to someone’s life.