How To Know If Your Piercing Is Infected

You decided on a body piercing, found a reputable piercer, and survived your appointment. Now your piercing is doing something unexpected, and you’re worried that it might be infected. Are these the normal signs of healing, or are you and your piercing headed for trouble? Read on to find out how to tell if your piercing is infected.

Any time your body is injured – including piercing – you might see the five signs of inflammation: redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function. These are normal and indicate that your immune system is at work, but they can also be signs of infection. The difference is a matter of degree and timing.

Symptoms

Your piercer should tell you what to expect during healing. If you know what is normal, you will be able to detect trouble early. Let’s look at the possible symptoms of infection:

Redness – It is normal for a new piercing to be slightly reddened because blood flow to the area is naturally increased. Sure signs of trouble include redness that won’t go away, an expanding area of redness, or red streaks that track away from the piercing.

Heat – Heat also occurs because of increased blood flow and indicates a problem if it increases over time, is hot and not just warm, or just will not go away.

Swelling – Swelling is caused by a build up of fluid. Oral piercings are especially prone to it – a tongue piercing can take a week to ten days to settle down. Swelling is problematic if it does not go down as quickly as expected or gets worse. Your jewelry must be long enough to accommodate swelling. Otherwise, it is very hard to clean, and there is a risk that the jewelry could pull through the piercing and be lost under the skin.

Pain – It is normal for a piercing to be tender for a few days, especially if it is subject to movement (e.g. tongue, lip), or aggravated by clothing or bumping. Pain that worsens with time or is extreme indicates a problem.

Loss of function – An eyebrow might not have a lot of work to do, but a tongue will be slowed down by a piercing, and an infection will make this worse. A pierced body part that will not move or is too painful to move is not normal – you may have an infection.

Two more symptoms

Fever/chills/nausea

- Fever, sometimes accompanied by chills and nausea, is a definite sign of trouble. You either have a localized infection at the piercing site or a more serious (potentially fatal) systemic infection. Consult a doctor if you have a high and/or persistent fever, chills, or nausea. These are not normal reactions to piercing and you may need antibiotics.

Pus/discharge – Not every discharge indicates infection. During the early stages of healing, a healthy piercing will discharge lymph, which is just blood plasma without the larger proteins. It is a clear or slightly yellowish fluid that dries to a crust and is easily removed with warm water.

Pus, on the other hand, is definitely a sign of infection. It is largely made up of dead white blood cells and bacteria. It may be whitish, yellow, green, or gray, and may have bloody streaks and an odor. Yellow, green, or foul-smelling pus indicate a serious infection. Seek medical attention.

What to do

If you think you have an infection, contact your body piercer immediately. Piercers are often more knowledgeable than doctors, who can be prejudiced against or unfamiliar with piercings. However, if you think you are in trouble or your condition worsens significantly, you must seek medical attention. If you lose a piercing, you can get it redone – it is not worth risking your life or serious tissue damage.

Mild infections can likely be treated at home. One time-tested remedy is the salt-water soak. Dissolve 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of sea salt in 1 cup (250 ml) of warm (not so hot that you scald yourself) water in a clean cup, ideally a disposable plastic one for each treatment. Soak the piercing or make a compress with a clean washcloth saturated with the salt water. Do this two or three times per day, fifteen minutes per session.

Avoid antibiotic creams or ointments as they trap dirt and debris and do not allow the piercing to breathe. Do not remove the jewelry from an infected piercing. This could allow the piercing to seal, trapping pus and causing an abscess. Pay special attention to infections in facial or oral piercings – their proximity to the brain makes them especially dangerous.

Prevention

The best strategy is prevention; follow the aftercare instructions from your piercer. He or she will recommend a mild cleanser and a cleaning schedule. Never touch a piercing with unclean hands. Never use alcohol, peroxide, iodine-based products or harsh antibacterial soaps. They are much too strong and will dry skin, kill cells, and impede the healing process.

Using Bitumen In Art

An ever-increasing amount of artists throughout the entire world are using bitumen as they are beginning to discover the many ways in which this medium can enhance their artwork.

What is bitumen? Bitumen can be described as a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid which is found in most crude petroleums as well as in some natural deposits, sometimes termed asphalt, it is thick and heavy and has to be heated or diluted before it will flow. The primary use of bitumen is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder for the aggregate particles.

Bitumen is often utilized in artwork in the following way: If you wish to add another layer of interest to your painting, try painting bitumen over the surface area, after which you can wipe back selected sections of the bitumen with turpentine, you’ll then see how the impressive effect can add another interesting dimension to your creation. I suggest that you use a test canvas first for experimenting, once you have achieved the desired effect and the look that best suits you then go forth and incorporate this amazing medium into your artwork, it will transform your art into something which is compelling and uniquely yours.

Bear in mind that bitumen could also be painted over various surfaces so for all those artists out there who love texture and layering, you will discover that this really is a fantastic medium to layer over a textured surface, for example: If you are using foil as a medium on canvas and you have painted the desired colour that you are wanting over the foil, you could then paint over the colour with bitumen, wipe it back with turpentine and see how bitumen can showcase the texture and once again add another level of interest and intrigue to your artwork.

The possibilities are endless and once you start experimenting with this particular medium you will begin to see how the many ways in which you are able to use it in art is merely limited by the imagination.

Designing and Making Paper Items

There are several ways of decorating paper. Most of the techniques were born out of experimentation of the artist with the colours and other materials found in the environment. This implies that aside from those methods that will be detailed, every artist must endeavour to create new ways of designing paper items.

1. Marbling (controlled and uncontrolled)

2. Comb-pattern

3. Wax resist

4. Doodling

5. Spraying

6. Roller and twine pattern

7. Ink-blowing

1. Marbling (controlled and uncontrolled)

Marbling is a method of making decorative patterns on paper by transferring colour from the surface of a liquid onto paper. Tools and materials required for marbling include paper, brushes, thinner, basin or trough, various colours of oil paint, cooked starch, empty tins, stick, and water.

Controlled Marbling

Process:

1. Fill a trough with cooked starch in an even consistency.

2. Sprinkle different colours of oil paint on the starch.

3. With the aid of the stick, stir gently for the colours to mix on the surface of the starch in order to make the patterns.

4. Place paper flat on top of the starch and tap the back to remove trapped air.

5. Hold one edge of the paper and remove it by dragging it along the edge of the trough to remove the starch.

6. Excess starch is washed off with water and hanged to dry.

Uncontrolled Marbling

Process:

1. Fill a trough with water.

2. Sprinkle different colours on the water.

3. Stir in different directions for the colours to come together over water.

4. Place paper flat on top of the trough and tap the back to remove trapped air.

5. Hold one edge of the paper and remove it by dragging it along the edge of the trough.

2. Comb-pattern

The tools and materials are large brush, paper or hair comb, cooked starch, water, powder colours, paper.

Process:

1. Mix powder colour with cooked starch to an even consistency to form a thin paste.

2. The brush is used to paint paste over the entire surface of paper.

3. The comb is used in making rhythmic patterns on the sheet.

4. It is hanged to dry.

3. Wax resist

Tools and materials required for this paper pattern making technique include brush, crayon or candle, powder colour, paper.

Process:

1. A sheet of paper is folded and creased to create parallel lines.

2. Wax is used to draw lines within the folded lines.

3. Go over the lines for a second run.

4. Colours are mixed and painted over the waxed paper.

Another technique is to sprinkle molten wax on paper. It is painted over with any high key colour. Wax is sprinkled over again and painted over with a low-key colour. After drying it, place the paper between two sheets of newspaper and iron to remove the wax leaving the patterned design.

4. Doodling

The tools and materials used include pencil, colours, paper, and brushes.

Process:

1. Create doodles to cover the entire sheet. Doodles are scribbles make on paper without any forethought plan.

2. Different colours are mixed to paint familiar shapes created by the doodles.

3. Erase the extensions created by the pencil.

5. Spraying

Tools and materials used include spray diffuser or shoe brush, paper, colour, cut out shapes, natural objects.

Process:

1. Arrange the natural objects or patterned templates and maintain their positions with drawing pins on the sheet of paper.

2. Spray colours on the patterns using the spray diffuser or an empty pen barrel with a mesh held at one end.

3. Gently remove the drawing pins and the cut out patterns.

4. The sprayed patterns on the paper is left to dry.

6. Roller and twine pattern

Tools and materials used include paper, printing ink, two hand rollers, rags, twine, thinner, glass slab.

Process:

1. Twine is wound around one hand roller.

2. Printing ink is placed on glass slab and rolled over with the second roller.

3. Printing ink is transferred onto the twined roller by rolling it over the glass slab.

4. The inked twined roller is rolled over the paper from the edge to edge and covered all over.

5. The rollers are cleaned with thinner and a different colour is used to go over the already created pattern to give a two coloured effect.

7. Ink-blowing

Tools and materials used include ink, paper, and empty pen barrel.

Process:

1. Sprinkle the paint at different sections on the paper.

2. Blow the paint to sprinkle it in a hairstyle manner using the empty pen barrel.

3. Leave the paper to dry.

Decorative papers are used for making book covers, endpaper, wrappers, wallpaper, background for calligraphy etc.

Tragus and Anti-Tragus Piercings

Tragus piercings and anti-tragus piercings are becoming increasingly popular – in fact, tragus piercings are now one of the most common ear piercings around. Ear piercings are the most familiar form of Body piercings and the tragus and anti-tragus are fresh expressions of the mundane ear lobe piercings.

The tragus is a thick little piece of cartilage that juts out from the ear canal. To get an understanding of the exact location of the tragus, place a finger by the outer corner of your eye. From this point, trace the finger back, in a straight line, until you touch your ear. The first piece of your ear you will feel is your tragus. You should be able to grasp this little nub between your fingers – this is where the piercing will go through.

There are all sorts of misconceptions about the tragus. Some people may try to tell you that piercing your tragus will affect your balance – that is simply not true. Your balance is affected by fluids in your ear drums, which are located deep within your ears, and are far away from any pierce-able surface. The tragus does not have anything to do with your balance, so don’t be fooled by uneducated people who might try and tell you otherwise. In fact, the only purpose a tragus has is to hold your headphones (such as the standard iPod headphones) securely in your ears; and once pierced, there are thousands of headphones to choose from which will not irritate your piercing. Honestly, the tragus has nothing to do with your ear, your hearing, or your balance. It is just a flap of cartilage – perhaps if humans developed sonar and echo-location the tragus would be useful (super developed traguses help bats use sonar, for example) – but alas, on our species, it’s just a surface begging to get pierced!

The tragus is recommended to be pierced with a captive bead ring, but a barbell will suffice. The reason rings are almost always preferred for the initial piercing as opposed to barbells is because rings tend to heal quicker, better, and more securely. Once healed, you can use any type of jewelry, even typical jewelry normally reserved for ear lobes. Your piercer will help you choose which gage is right for you (and by the way, expanding the tragus is not unheard of, but rare), mark the location on your ear, and push the needle right through. Some piercers may put a cork behind the tragus to “catch” the needle, some piercers just use clamps to aid the needle through, and yet others just use their hands. Each piercer is different, so they will pierce according to their style. Clamps are the most common method, and many people report that the actually clamping to secure the skin hurts more than the piercing! The tragus piercing should be painless – there aren’t a lot of nerves there – but some people do feel slight and temporary pain. Because it is so close to the ear, some people even say they hear a little “pop!” sound as the needle pushes through. Should you hear a little noise, it’s nothing to be concerned about. Once the needle is in, the jewelry is slid into place and secured, and you are done! The whole process, from prep to finish, shouldn’t take more than five minutes.

The tragus does take a while to heal – sometimes up to a year to be fully and completely healed. Many people irritate their new piercing by placing their dirty cell phones up to their ear or by sleeping on the ear with the piercing. I suggest NOT doing either of these for at least the first six months. If your piercing does become infected (and it shouldn’t with proper aftercare), soak it in warm salt water, don’t touch it with your hands, and perhaps (using a q-tip) rub some diluted tea tree oil around the piercing. Never use any sort of rubbing alcohol, for this will irritate and scar your piercing. Your piercer will give you a complete rundown of what to expect and how to handle your new piercing though, so pay attention to their advice.

The Anti-Tragus is very similar to the tragus. It is pierced the same way, the aftercare is the same, and the healing time is the same too. To locate your anti-tragus, place a finger on your earlobe (generally where someone’s first ear piercing would be) and with your finger, draw a straight line up. The flap of cartilage you come to before the empty space is your anti-tragus. Your tragus and anti-tragus are located very close to each other, and the anti-tragus is just opposite of the tragus. Just like the other piercing, this piercing does not affect your hearing or balance. The anti-tragus is rarer than the tragus, mostly because many people don’t think they can get this area pierced, but it can be pierced and it does look great when healed. Curved Barbells and captive ring beads are used most frequently in these piercings.

If you are considering an anti-tragus or tragus piercings, be sure to use a licensed professional. Once it is fully healed, the way your ornament or decorate the piercing is completely up to you, and the jewelry possibilities are endless!