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Piercings and Dirty Jobs

When we think of all the things we need to consider before getting pierced, it’s usually things like what piercing we want to get, what jewelry we plan to wear, and how we should take care of it while it's healing. Something we don’t often consider is how will my lifestyle affect this piercing. There are lots of lifestyle elements that can affect how our piercings heal, from the products we use on our bodies to the medications we take to the climate we live in. Today, I specifically want to talk about how what we do for work can affect piercing healing. And more than just that- what if we work in dirty jobs? How can we still get piercings despite this? Let’s take a look!


The Dirtier, The Better


Now when I say dirty jobs, I am truly referring to dirty jobs. I’ve had clients who work as miners, getting covered in dirt, mud, debris, and contaminated water miles and miles underground. I have clients who have worked on oil rigs and ended up covered in crude oil, dirt, and debris from the job. Folks who work doing elements of construction and plumbing that leave them coated in insulation, wood dust, and who knows what else. These are dirty jobs, and if you get this dirty, your piercing often does as well. For many, this is a reason to simply not get piercings. And I will be honest, there are some lines of work and some people's bodies where it just won’t work. The piercing will simply be irritated and have issues and not heal. Sometimes in these circumstances even with every tip and bit of advice, it’s just too much. But, that being said I have had some great success with a conservative approach to piercing folks in these lines of work, modified aftercare, and a little bit of patience.


Start Small, Start Simple, Start Slow


The first and biggest thing if you work in a dirty job is that we need to start small, simple, and slow. Ideally, we’ll do one piercing at a time, and we will start with someone that a going to be easier to heal (meaning no cheeks or high nostrils right off the bat folks). We should start with simple jewelry, a plain titanium bead or disc would be an idea. Nothing decorative or that has settings that could collect and trap dirt and debris. Depending on the piercing and the type of work, a bead may be the easiest to clean dirt and debris away from. For some, the higher profile of the bead may be more likely to catch, and a disc may be better. Talk to your piercer about your work, what it entails, and work together to figure out the jewelry that will be best for you to start.


I also like to start with very simple classic aftercare. Just saline to keep things clean, no extra harsh chemicals or products. Your skin is used to your workplace environment and likely has developed your immune system to fight off whatever you come in contact with on a day-to-day basis. Let’s let your immune system do its job, rather than overwhelm your new piercing with harsh or drying chemicals. We can always modify and adjust aftercare as needed and as we see how you heal, but starting off with a simple approach gives us a baseline to go off of.


PPE, Please


If possible, wear personal protective equipment at work! Healing a nostril or oral piercing? Wear a face mask to keep your lower face covered and cleaner. Healing an ear piercing? I’ve had clients add covers for their ears to their helmets or wear wrestlers’ ear covers to help prevent their ears from getting dirty while they work. Clients healing tattoos have work arm sleeves under clothing for an extra barrier. Use this PPE that already exists to help keep your piercing cleaner and protected during the day.


Teamwork


And the biggest element with healing piercings under these circumstances- is teamwork with your piercer! We are here not only to do your piercing but to help you heal it- so use us as a resource! I would do regular virtual check-ins so we can monitor the healing process and suggest any aftercare or sizing changes needed. We can also spot signs of irritation and issues before you can. I’ve vent had clients in these lines of work see me regularly for deep cleanings on their piercings. When you work together with your piercer you allow us to help take some of the burden of healing. And it's much easier as a team.



Working dirty jobs can absolutely limit some of the things you can do. But piercings don’t always have to be one of those things! Finding an experienced, reputable piercer willing to work around your lifestyle, and being patient with starting slow and simple on jewelry till you are healed, are ways we can absolutely make piercing unhappen. No matter your line of work. Happy healing!

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Andrea Stewart
Andrea Stewart
Nov 04, 2023

I work in a sawmill, I have cleaned so much sawdust off my piercings, especially my septum. Balls and disks are definitely the way to go for piercings that are hard to keep dust off of. I have also used bezel set gems with great success. prong settings are just a bad idea, they hold so much dirt! I have not been able to use over ear hearing protection, as they are tend to irritate my piercings more than the dust does, using ear plugs works fine, but means a daith piercing is out of the question. one other adjustment I made is in aftercare. I clean my piercings a LOT more than the usual 2x per day. I clean…

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