The Soapbox

December 9, 2009

Soap Delay

As I mentioned in my post on soap, The Dope on Soap, two antimicrobial soaps made specifically for wound care, Provon and Satin, are often recommended for fresh piercings.  However, Care Tech, the maker of Satin, was ordered to suspend shipping by the FDA while they investigate unauthorized claims.

“The FDA is concerned about Care-Tech’s products because they lack FDA approval, do not conform to any applicable over-the-counter drug monograph, and are not appropriately manufactured.”

Here’s the link to the FDA press release.

In addition, I’ve heard from more than one source that Provon’s manufacturers may be behind in their supply and distribution, so while these situations are no doubt temporary, if you can get your hands on Provon or Satin at your piercing studio or elsewhere, grab ’em!

Meta, Pics & Flicks

Flickr: I’m slowly uploading all my piercing pics to my Flickr Photostream.  I don’t want to upload all of them at once, because the Flickr strip on the blog changes as I upload, and I want a variety for you.

Delicious: Also, I’m working  on moving my bodymod links to my Cloudlb delicious bookmarks account to post all of the links there. In a similar vein as the Flickr pics, they show up on the sidebar as I post them, and there are a lot of them, so keep an eye out for new ones as time goes on. If you have a delicious account, you can add me to your network to get them that way, too.

7000 Years of Jewelry

I’m so excited!  I got this wonderful book — and got a really great bargain on ebay — about the history of jewelry.  It looks to have some great information on body jewelry in history which I hope to share with you once I digest it.  Here’s the link to the Amazon page of the book.

Midnight Baby!

And finally, Welcome to GrandBabyCloud No. 8! BD#2 in Portland had a little girl this morning at midnight.  At home, with a midwife, and in the birthing tub.  Oy.  No name yet, no pics or anything so far, but we are so happy!



The Magic of Salt

November 7, 2009
salt 3251757352_68e8ac75e1

Crystallized Salt Under Microscope

Is salt our new magic potion?

If you’re the Winchester brothers, you protect all the windows and doors from demons and witches with lines of salt.  If you are superstitious, you throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder to ward off evil spirits  after spilling the precious substance.  If you’re an Internet junkie, you may have received an email purporting to be tips on preventing the swine flu from a doctor in India, which among other things, recommends that one swab the mucous linings of the nose with salt water, and gargle with warm salt water:

3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don’t trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don’t underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4. Similar to 3 above,
clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.

And if you’re a piercee, a nice warm sea salt soak can do wonders for your piercings. Sea Salt Soaks (sometimes abbreviated by piercees as SSS) are part of the standard aftercare recommendations for most piercings.  I’ve written about salt in various places in this blog, most notably in the aftercare posts, like Chicken Soup for Your Piercings and Aftercare in Detail:The Salt of Life. But is salt really a cure-all, or is it just another superstition?

salt 41MM087P13L._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU01_SS75_According to Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky (quoting Jungian pycschologist Ernest Jones):

“In all ages salt has been invested with a significance far exceeding that inherent in its natural properties, interesting and important as these are.  Homer calls it a devine substance, Plato describes it as especially dear to the Gods, and we . . . note the importance attached to it in religious ceremonies, covenants, and magical charms.”

Salt is an essential nutrient for human bodies; therefore we attach great importance to it.  It’s associated with loyalty and friendship, truth and wisdom.  It may have been a key factor in domesticating animals like cattle, it was one of the first international trade commodities, and the entire world used it for preserving food before refrigeration.

Salt does have mild antiseptic properties, but what it really does for wound care, like piercings, is dessicate the wound; i.e., dries it out. In fact, a “super-solution” is sometimes prescribed for troubleshooting pesky hypergranulated piercings, as John Lopez recommended to a piercee with a problem growth near her triangle piercing:

Sounds like a classic hyper-granulation to me. Thats and explosion of capillary rich connective tissue. I’d suggest you dry that puppy out…hard. Not the surrounding tissue, just the growth. Because the piercing is genital it’s hard to do, but you’ll need to do something, right? Here’s what I’d suggest: Mix a strong salt water solution, 2 teaspoons into a cup of water. That’s EIGHT (8) times stronger than normal. Apply this directly to the growth NOTthe general area. You can use a cotton tipped applicator for this. Do it several times per day for a few minutes at a time.

Piercees take great stock in using sea salt (not iodized salt, and preferably pure salt with no additives) on our piercings.  But our medical doctors are skeptical. The email quoted above turned out not to be from the purported author (always check for that kind of stuff, preferably before passing it on!), and the reaction to the suggestions from the medical establishment was dismissive.  “I don’t know of any evidence basis for gargling preventing influenza,” Randy Taplitz, clinical director of infectious diseases at USCD Medical Center (from the Snopes page).  I also read where the gargling thing is a holdover from the 1918 flu outbreak, which I find interesting, because my mother always made me gargle with salt water when sick.  However,   The Mayo Clinic says that salt water gargles can temporarily relieve sore throat discomfort, and that saline sprays are beneficial for colds.  You can check out the real H1N1 tips page from the Center for Disease Control here.

Even though the email was fake and the doctors are skeptical, I don’t think it would hurt to follow them.  Based on my experience, salt water solution can be beneficial in healing.  I can tell you when I had a nasty green spot on a healing surgical incision, the only thing that made it go away, was a sea salt soak.  Cleared it right up, but my doctor was like, WTF?  I’m not a doctor, or a chemical researcher, so I can’t provide a definitive answer, but I woke up with a sore throat this morning, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m just gonna go gargle . . .

Top pic is from Williamgja’s Photostream on Flickr.  Salt book pic is from Amazon. com.


3 Lifehacks for piercees

August 23, 2009


Here are 3 things I’ve learned which have come in handy as a piercee, and in life:

Pat, don’t rub

I swear I learned this one as a young girl from Patty Duke, but I can’t find a clip of her washing her face to corroborate:  When washing and drying the face, pat–don’t rub!    Skin is an amazing organ, but it should be treated delicately.  Skin, and piercings, should also be kept dry.  Piercings are often placed in folds of skin–in ears, in genitals, in navels, and bacteria just love warm, damp environments. Humid climates can also contribute to the problem, and you don’t want to have to bring out the tea tree oil to combat fungal infections.

Therefore, healing piercings should be washed gently with mild soap, or special antimicrobial wound care soap like Satin or Provon.  No need to scrub vigorously, force the jewelry to move, rotate it, or anything like that.  You are growing new skin cells in there, and too much or rough movement can damage them.  After washing, carefully dry around your piercings with a clean paper towel — by patting.

So, wash behind your ears, but dry there, too!  Wash your face delicately, and don’t scrub.  In terms of wound care (like piercings) clean and dry is also the way to go.  The second-to-last thing my surgeon said to me after my operation was to dry my incision carefully, and “Pat, don’t rub!” Keep your piercing dry, and treat your skin gently.


Breathe Deep

Knowing how to do deep breathing is a skill I initially learned in school–first as a relaxation exercise, and then for voice lessons.  I’m not a yogi, to regale you with how the conscious control of the breath is a link to inner enlightenment, but I will tell you this:  Learn how to breathe deeply, through the diaphragm, and you can use this skill to alleviate stress and deal with pain. (Sorry, no nifty hand-drawn graphic for this one, because I can’t draw worth a darn.)

Like  the pain of childbirth.  Or, like the pain of piercing.  You know, when your piercing tells you to “take a deep breath, now let it out . . . ”  That’s mostly a distraction technique, but if you have these mad deep-breathing skills,  you should have been using them already, during the prep time.  Anticipation is the hardest!  Here’s how I do my relaxation breathing:

  1. Lie down on your back in a comfortable position.  Let your body feel relaxed, and start to take deep breaths.
  2. Proper deep breathing expands your diaphragm, which is below your chest.  Your tummy and back should both expand outward.  If your chest is rising up and down–you’re doing it wrong.  Take a deep breath in with your nose, pause a moment, and slowly exhale with your mouth.  After you think you have exhaled everything, pause again–there is more air being expelled than you think.
  3. Now, starting at the feet, with each exhale, think of sending the exhalation and your breath into your body.  Feel your feet getting heavy, warm, and relaxed.  Imagine the blood flowing, the  capillaries expanding with the energy of your breath.  Now, move on up the body–the calves, the thighs, the buttocks.  Some parts of the body are more stubborn than others, and may need several breaths to relax, or “cover” the entire area.  Move up the back part of your body, with your back and neck (big trouble spots!) then do the shoulders, arms, and the front of the torso.  Lastly, relax your head (you can get the neck here, too); and — very important!  — the face, especially the cheeks and jaw, which hold lots of tension (I learned that in EST!).
  4. You are now pretty relaxed, and breathing very deeply.  Stay that way for a while, enjoying the sensation, then–get up!

There are other methods, many of them, for using breath to relax, in the dentist’s chair, the doctor’s office, after receiving bad news, for singing (okay, I don’t do that anymore).  Dr. Andrew Weil talks about breath a lot, and you can find more info on that here:  Three Breathing Exercises.


When in Doubt, Salt it!

So, we all know that sea salt soaks have become standard aftercare for piercings.  Salt is an essential compound for human life and has many useful properties (good to know if you ever need to cure fish or protect yourself from evil witches).  It also has medicinal and antiseptic properties.  As a kid, my mother would make me gargle with salt water to sooth a sore throat, and I still do that.  As a piercee, I learned to do sea salt soaks, to bring oxygen and healing to the wound, to remove, by osmosis, foreign matter, lymph, and dead skin from the piercing site.  The proper proportions, as illustrated above, are of course, important, and a good salt without dirt, or extraneous anti-caking agents, is also recommended.  But the basic premise remains, and you can use it for other wounds.

After my abdominal surgery, my 5-inch incision was tricky to heal.  It had a bad spot–a green and smelly inch which did not heal as fast as the rest.  My doc didn’t seem too concerned, but in these days of runaway evil bacteria, I was pretty freaked.  It was ugly.  It hurt.  And just keeping it clean and dry (patting, not rubbing!) didn’t seem to be improving things.  So — out came the salt.  I started doing regular sea salt soaks on the bad spot, just as if it were a piercing, and — voila!  No more bad spot.

I told this to my doc, and he just looked at me like I was crazy.  “Salt?  Why?”  Because it works!  (Don’t take this as medical advice–I’m not a doctor, okay?  Use common sense.)

We are all the sum of our experiences.  I like how my life experience has prepared me to deal with my body piercings, and how piercings have taught me lessons I can use in the rest of my life. Who knew?

(If you need more info on how to do sea salt soaks for your piercings, look here and here. )


Cup O Sal

August 17, 2009


I found these nifty little glasses on — where else?  Amazon!  These are expresso glasses made by bodum, designed with an extra insulating layer, so your expresso stays hot.  Guess what I use them for?


Yep, you guessed it–soaking my piercings!  These little babies are just the right size for nipples, navels, etc., and have smooth, comfortable edges (very important!)  And, of course, your sea salt solution stays warm.

Beautiful Daughter No. 1 came over recently, and exclaimed over them.  “Oh, are these expresso glasses?”  “Yep,” I replied.  “But I don’t use them for expresso.”  She just gave me a look–she knew exactly what I was using them for (and declined to drink out of them.)  Clever girl!

Most people use shot glasses for soaking piercings of the appropriate size, but I didn’t have any, and needed some more little glasses for this purpose.  At $13 they were a pretty good deal.  Here is the link to buy them on Amazon:  insulated expresso glasses. These same manufacturers also make bigger glasses, but the reviews seem to indicate they are too fragile.

If you need the how-to for soaking your piercings with sea salt, look here.  Happy soaking!


Prick Fixx

May 16, 2009


No, it’s not a new kind of Viagra.  It’s a body piercing aftercare wipe.

I’m pretty skeptical about piercing aftercare products.  I really haven’t come across anything better than sea salt soaks, a good skin-friendly oil, and good health.  Nevertheless, I’m always  looking out for us pierced consumers, so when I was looking for some pure sea salt to buy (and didn’t find it) I decided to try this stuff out.  It’s distributed by P2inc. at


They come in packages of 30 single-use wipes for $8.95 at Steel Navel, which isn’t too bad.

There’s not much info on the package, and the directions are a little odd.  They say to apply “as needed” and to contact your piercing professional, and to use only as directed.  Pretty vague. I suppose you really don’t need much direction for a wipe, but it doesn’t mention any rinsing.  I guess you’re just supposed to leave any salt residue behind on your skin.  It contains Water, Coral-Reef Sea Salt, Yucca Glauca Root Extract, and Cetyl Pyridinium Chloride.


As far as I can tell, the idea behind piercing aftercare sprays and applications is to remove crusties for cleanliness, which makes them a fine convenience product. I tried these on my nipple piercing which has been crusting a lot recently, and–they worked.  That is, they removed the crusties.

But then I noticed that my nipple was actually irritated.  These wipes wouldn’t do a thing for that.  So I got out my dwindling supply of pure sea salt and soaked.  Heat and immersion in the saline solution do a far better job  in caring for a piercing than any spray  or wipe could do.

I think these products, and there are others, the most heavily-advertised of which is H2Ocean, are mostly good for making their inventors money. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (smirk), but be a smart pierced consumer!


Aftercare for anchors

March 3, 2009


Whatever you call these piercings,* whether “microdermals,” “dermal anchors,” “surface anchors” or  “single point piercings,” they are a slightly different animal than traditional piercings.

(ETA:  this shot is supposed to be of the anchor–not the boobs! Darn things always get in the way!)

Here’s an aftercare tip for these:

For regular piercings, I believe immersion methods of soaking offer the most benefit, which is one reason I don’t like proprietary aftercare sprays.   (Here’s my post on how to do sea salt soaks.)

However, because single point piercings do not have a tunnel, with two exit points which would allow for easy draining, try a compress. A sterile gauze pad which has been soaked in your sea salt solution, applied with a bit of pressure, can help expel any fluid or detritus caught in the piercing better than soaking with a cup. Thanks to John Lopez for this tip. (He gives me so much good stuff!) Another one of my friends uses chamomile tea bags, moistened in hot water, for compresses and loves their soothing effect.  Do this only when needed, and otherwise, Leave It The Hell Alone.

Don’t call ’em “dermals.”

*A note on terminology.  Piercing terminology is a bitch, fractious and confusing, but in this case, the industry is trying to get away from any description which has “dermal” in it, as being too “medical.”  Piercers are not medical practitioners, and have to be careful not to overstep the bounds of unauthorized practice of medicine.  So call ’em surface anchors or single point piercings.

Tips & Tricks: No Critters On the Bed!

February 25, 2009


In the “Do as I Say Not As I Do” Department

When healing a fresh body piercing, keep it clean! I think I’ve been pretty clear about that here (grin).

So:     One of the aftercare “rules” for healing piercings is–No Pets On the Bed!

When you are healing a wound, you don’t want hair, dirt, and pet germs in there.

It’s also a good idea to change your sheets and other bedding frequently.  Pillowcases should be changed daily for a fresh facial or ear piercing, because they get covered in body oil, dirt, drool, makeup–you get the idea.  You can always cover the pillow with a clean t-shirt or towel.

But, back to the pet thing–I have a teeny tiny problem with that.  One of my kitties (the sleek and lazy guy in the pic above) likes to sleep right next to my face.   And my bedroom has no door!