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Nipple Piercing Jewelry

This section covers the choice of jewelry which is best for Nipple Piercings. The most common mistake that I see leading to problems with migration, rejection and infection is nipple's that are pierced with incorrect jewelry. This is especially true when it comes to the size of the jewelry itself. Body type, the piercee's sex and the shape of the nipple all play an important part in what jewelry is best.

Jewelry Style:

When it comes to Nipple piercings it's important to consider that the jewelry and piercing will be in contact with clothes and bedding during and after the healing. So the jewelry needs to be simple, without points or edges that will get caught on things but still allows rooms for swelling, discharge and cleaning. Since the jewelry can tend to hang it's important especially during the healing that there is no additional weight that might add stress to the piercing during healing. 

There is a never ending debate over which style of jewelry is best to heal a nipple piercing. Both rings and barbells have benefits and disadvantages but it really comes down to the size of the nipple, the shape of the nipple and the body type of the piercee. If the nipple is well pronounced rings are often the better choice. However if the person's body type will tend to add pressure to the piercing a barbell will be a better choice. It is my experience that rings are more often the better choice do to weight, the extra room for swelling and discharge that rings provide and the security of Captive Bead Rings. However especially with well endowed females barbells tend to be a better option.

  • Rings and  Circular style jewelry such as Captive Bead or Beaded Rings and Circular Barbells:
    • The Advantages:
    1. There are no sharp edges and points that may get caught on clothing, bedding and etc..
    2. Since the jewelry is not tight and wider than the piercing area, allows extra room for swelling, discharge and cleaning.
    3. If the jewelry is the correct width it will hang comfortably against body and not have added pressure forcing the jewelry outward.  
    4. Especially with Captive Bead and Beaded Rings the jewelry is designed to be secure long term wear and there isn't the worry about ends coming unscrewed and losing the o-rings. So it reduces the maintenance and gives the piercee one less thing to deal during the healing.
    5. Much easier to move for cleaning.
    6. Usually lighter in weight then threaded jewelry.
    • The Disadvantages:
    1. The profile of the rings may cause additional contact, abuse and stress on the piercing. 
    2. Especially with Captive Bead and Beaded Rings, they can be difficult to remove or replace. In some cases requiring special tools to remove the jewelry. 
  • Threaded Straight or Curved Jewelry such as Barbells:
    • ​The Advantages:
    1. Since the jewelry is straight there are no concerns with migration, prolonged healing or other problems that can happen with Circular jewelry that has too tight of a curve.
    2. Lower profile may reduce abuse from contact with clothing, bedding and etc.. and less noticeable. 
    3. Since the jewelry is threaded it can be easily removed if needed.
    • The Disadvantages:
    1. ​Jewelry must be longer than needed to allow for swelling, discharge, and cleaning. This often means more weight, increased likelihood of abuse from contact or catching on clothing, bedding, etc... or being pulled or twisted.
    2. If the jewelry is too tight there is no extra room at all and can cause the jewelry to become impacted.
    3. The tightness of the ends needs to be check regularly to avoid the jewelry falling out and the piercing closing. This increases contact with the piercing and increases the likelihood of cross contamination. 
    4. In most cases the jewelry is heaver than a simple Captive Bead Ring which increases the stress on the piercing which could lead to migration or other problems. 
    5. Due to the shape the jewelry is prone to twist causing stress. Also because of the weight one side well be laying against one of the piercing holes which can block discharge.
  • Jewelry that should be avoided during Healing:
    • ​Nipple Shields and other novelty jewelry:
      • ​Since the shield is behind the barbell and will press outward, it will increase the risks of migration, rejection and other problems.
      • Limits the space needed for swelling, discharge and cleaning.
      • Usually made of sub-standard materials that may cause additional metal reactions or problems.
      • Increases the risk of the jewelry getting caught on clothing, bedding, etc.. and add additional stress to the piercing during healing.
    • Ear Piercing Studs and other traditional jewelry:
      • ​The jewelry is often too short to allow for the thickness of piercing area. Which doesn't allow for swelling and can cause the jewelry to be impacted into the piercing. Also if the jewelry is too tight it can block both discharge and the flow of oxygen that can increase healing time and/or increase risk to infection or other problems.
      • The backs or locks are lose and can tighten with normal wear.
      • Often the jewelry material is not body friendly. Even those that are marketed to those with sensitivity to metal are only plated.
      • In most cases can not be sterilized correctly.

​Size of the Jewelry and Weight:

  • ​Gauge:

As a refresher gauge is the thickness of the wire that the jewelry is made out of. Body piercing jewelry generally starts at 18 gauge jewelry and goes up to 0000 gauge jewelry. The smaller the number the thicker the jewelry will be. As I'm sure you know, the thicker the jewelry is the more weight and thus the more stress on the piercing during the healing period. Also the thicker the jewelry the more tissue that needs to be produce and thus the longer the healing period. Though in most cases a 18 gauge piercing will heal out in about the same time as a 12 gauge piercing will.

When choosing the gauge of the jewelry, the jewelry needs to be thick enough to reduce rejection or migration and have resistance to tearing but light enough that it will not cause added stress during healing. Due to the softness of the nipple tissue the jewelry needs to be of a thick enough wire to reduce migration, rejection and tearing of the piercing. I have found that jewelry from 14 gauge to 10 gauge is a good balance between reducing migration and tearing but is light enough to avoid stress on the piercings. Also larger gauge jewelry will feel much more comfortable when it is pulled or caught on. The piercing can always be stretched later but it can be a long process to heal a nipple to the point where stretching can be done safely and comfortably. 

  • Width:

​The biggest mistake that I see with nipple piercings is jewelry that has either too tight of a curve or is too short. I can not stress how important it is that the jewelry is lose fitting with the jewelry within the piercing having as flat of a curve as possible. A good sign that your nipple ring is too small is if it wants to stick straight out instead of laying flat against the body. Rings that are too tight will increase the stress on the piercing leading to migration, rejection, prolonged healing and scarring. With rings, even reducing the width of the jewelry in a healed piercing can cause these problems.

The jewelry needs to be large enough to allow extra room for swelling, discharge and cleaning. If the piercing is done with a barbell this usually means that the jewelry must be done with a much longer piece then is needed, thus adding additional weight and added risks. With a ring the jewelry should be at least 1/8 of an inch wider than the distance between the two piercing holes. The piercing should not be wider then a 1/4 turn of the ring. 

Even in a healed piercing you do not want to put jewelry in that has a tighter circle than the jewelry it was pierced with. In other words if it was pierced with a 5/8 inch wide ring, you do not want to put a 1/2 inch ring in because it would be a tighter circle. The reason for this is it can cause migration, scarring and tearing of the piercings. If you want something with a lower profile, a curved barbell would be a better choice because they are usually a mild 1/4 turn or a straight barbell. Even with a barbell you do want it to be a little longer than the piercing. The jewelry should never be so tight that it changes the shape of the piercing or piercing area. 

In conclusion, nothing replaces the first hand knowledge of a professional piercer when it comes to choosing the correct jewelry. There is vast differences in shape and size and often what works for 99.99% of the public is not the best choice for you. The goal of this is to give you a working understand of jewelry selection, so that you can have an educated discussion with your piercer on what will work best. Every piercer  understands that one of the motivations of you getting the piercing is fashion but jewelry that will produce the best out come should always rule out fashion. Think of the jewelry that the piercing is done with as trainer jewelry that will be replaced with what you like after the piercing is healed.

Choosing Jewelry Series