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.

Pop Art – A Quick Guide to the Basics

Some of the most well-known artists of the Pop Art phenomenon, such as Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, were born in the 1920′s which was a boom time in the USA with money to spare and jazz music starting to make it’s mark. But in 1929 the stock market crashed and the US entered a depression that lasted until the mid-1930′s. Perhaps the most famous of all pop artists, Andy Warhol, was born at the beginning of that depression.

So these artists grew up in a fast changing world that went from boom to bust to World War II in little over 10 years. By the time the war ended, they were still young and during the 1950s people again started to have some extra money available to spend on the endless stream of new products that were starting to appear.

And it was the design and advertising of these new products that the artists were commenting on, and influenced by, in a way that no previous generation of artists had been. They tried to use ordinary consumer items in their work to encourage people to view them differently. They also positioned common items in unusual ways to make people take notice of them.

Other common themes in Pop Art were comic books and the famous people of that era such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, who will be forever associated with Warhol’s work. Warhol used screen printing techniques for his work and usually made several copies of the same image.

But what the artists sought to highlight was the way famous people were treated as objects in the same way as products were in advertising with all sense of their individuality removed. Although many pop artists were unwilling to give meaning to their work, and even those who posed questions with their art, left those same questions unanswered. Jasper Johns, famous for his series of paintings showing the American flag, famously questioned whether his own work was art or just a flag.

So what are the characteristics of Pop Art?

Just as the world in which we live is endlessly varied, so Pop Art used a variety of techniques but the common characteristics that define works as Pop Art are as follows:

Graphic Style: Clearly defined shapes and colours with hard edges such as the Lichtenstein comic book styles and David Hockney’s works.

Funny and Lighthearted: Rejecting the rather serious approach of earlier artists.

Everyday Products and Brands: including foodstuffs, cars and images from advertising and films.

Collage: and also different techniques within one work.

No Perspective: Flat two-dimensional works are very common.

Mechanical Techniques: silk-screen printing was used to create different versions of the same image.

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!

Tribalogy – Drawing With Both Hands at the Same Time

For the greater part of my life, I have been drawing with my right hand only. Several years ago, I had an idea for a fun artistic challenge. One day, I decided to include my left hand into the drawing process. I refer to this as “Simultaneous, Two Handed Drawing”- the act of drawing with both hands at the same time.

You might be asking, “how could this be possible and how can you focus on both hands at the same time?”. The answer is this: the same way you drive a car, play an instrument, or type on a keyboard. We train our brains to function and operate in a way that allows us to accomplish specific tasks.

The truth is that everyone can draw with both hands at once. It’s simply a matter of the willingness to learn, as well as being inspired to take on the task. Everyone is different, and we all have abilities that make us unique.

For me, I have been drawing my whole life and I have been heavily inspired by the lines and shapes prevalent in Tribal art. I have practiced drawing, painting and tattooing tribal designs for, literally, thousands of hours in my life.

My goal has always been in developing a fundamental understanding for the science of interacting lines and shapes on a surface. Incorporating my other hand in the art creation process seemed to be the next step in connecting with line art on a deeper, more spiritual level.

Drawing with both hands seemed to allow me to get even closer to becoming one with the lines and shapes that I created. I started to draw tribal art with both hands at once, and Tribalogy was born. After creating several simultaneous, two handed drawings, I noticed my hands making similar movements on the paper, and new drawing techniques were born.

These include Hand Mirroring, Hand Independence, Detachment, Alternating, Overlapping,Tempo, and so on. The drawing methods would come to me, as though they had always been there, and as if I was uncovering them through drawing experimentation. Drawing with two hands seems to hold a lot of answers regarding the art creation process. It feels like I am closing an electrical circuit, allowing art to flow freely into the design, then back into me.

I believe that an artist who creates art with one hand is just as close to their art as the two handed artist. Incorporating my other hand seems to be the missing force in my individual process.