What is Dermal Piercing?
Dermal piercing, also known as microdermal piercing, is a form of body piercing where the dermis, i.e., the layer of skin underneath the epidermis, the outer layer of skin, is punctured or cut in order to place body jewelry. Dermal piercings can be made on almost all skin surfaces of the body. It is considered a permanent piercing because it can only be removed by a medical professional.
Dermal piercing has been practiced for various reasons such as religion, cultural tradition, aesthetic value, self-expression, or sexual pleasure. However, the display of dermal piercings may be forbidden in certain settings such as school, religious, and work establishments.
Dermal piercing on face
Locations of Dermal Piercing Locations
Dermal piercings can be made on several locations on the body such as:
- On the hip – As one of the newest and most popular piercing approaches, hip piercing requires placing jewelry on one or both sides of the hips lateral to the navel.
- On the chest – The chest can be one of the easiest areas to do dermal piercing, but it requires greater caution since the area can be irritated when something like a bath towel accidentally rubs against it.
- On the back – The lower back, just above the buttocks, can also be a site for piercing. Dermal piercing on the lower back require sleeping on a soft mattress because hard surfaces such as the floor, tough mattresses, and wooden boards may cause friction and pressure on the area.
- On the neck – The nape area or the side of the neck can be a site for dermal piercing. The skin overlying the collar bone can also be pierced. Piercing the neck area may result in mild swelling and redness because of vast blood supply in the area.
- On the wrist – Piercing on the wrist is one of the most popular locations for dermal piercing among teens. However, this area is usually not advisable due to the various movements in the wrist and further trauma to the tissues.
Dermal piercing on wrist
- On the fingers – Piercings can also be placed on one or more fingers to add aesthetic value to the hand.
- On the face – The face is also one of the most common areas for dermal piercing. It is usually placed on the lips, eyebrows, ears, and tongue.
- Under the eyes – Dermal piercing under the eyes can be quite complicated and painful, and the procedure should be performed by an experienced professional piercer.
Dermal Piercing Jewelry
Dermal piercing jewelry should be hypoallergenic to reduce irritation and possible rejection. These are most commonly made of metals such as stainless steel, titanium, and niobium.
Among the three, titanium is less likely to cause allergic reactions and irritations. Most jewelry for new piercings which are made from palladium and titanium can be used. Gold and silver are not employed for initial piercings due to possible allergic reactions or metal oxidization (tarnish).
The clasp or stud of the jewelry should also be made with the same material as the primary piece to reduce risk of allergies.
Pictures of Dermal Piercing
Dermal piercing on chest
Dermal piercing on hips
Procedure for Dermal Piercing
The procedure for dermal piercing is usually simple but requires precision and care. The step-by-step procedures include:
- Disinfecting the piercing site. An antiseptic, usually alcohol, is used to clean the site to remove microorganisms which can potentially cause infection. Hairy sites like the chest and wrist may be shaved for easier procedure.
- Marking the site. The area to be perforated is marked with a surgical pen to indicate the entry and exit points of the needle.
- Boring the skin. A surgical needle which is sterilized prior to its use is inserted through the skin on the indicated markings.
- Inserting the microdermal anchor. The dermal piercing anchor is then placed in the area. When the tissue heals, it usually encapsulates the inserted dermal anchor, making it impossible to remove the anchor without undergoing a surgical procedure.
The whole process usually requires strict asepsis to prevent infection.
Following the dermal piercing procedure, aftercare, which is needed to prevent complications, includes the following:
- Cleaning the site regularly. The site may be cleaned with a mixture of salt and water. Cotton soaked in the solution is used to wipe the area. Salt prevents the occurrence of infection and may not cause significant stinging compared to alcohol. It is advised to clean the site at least twice a day.
- Washing hands before and after contact with the site. The hands should be maintained clean in order to prevent dirt and other particles from getting trapped in the pierced site.
- Using mild soap during bathing. Strong soap concentrations may irritate the area.
- Increasing intake of protein and vitamin C rich foods. Vitamin C strengthens the collagen matrix, thereby preventing infection. Protein enhances wound repair, thereby quickening the healing process.
- Rinsing away soaps and shampoos effectively. Soap and shampoo can build up on the site and may cause presence of debris. It is advised to rinse off immediately.
- Removing crusts from the area. Crust from blood and tissues may form on the pierced site. It is important to remove these to prevent further build-up which may be difficult to remove later on.
- Avoiding frequent touching, fidgeting, and moving the piercing. Frequent contact with the jewelry causes irritation to the surrounding tissues due to friction.
- Allowing the site to be exposed in the sun from time to time. Vitamin D from sun exposure in the morning can help promote healing. It also prevents infection from anaerobic bacteria, especially in the hidden areas of the body.
Dangers and Risks of Dermal Piercing
Since body piercing is an invasive procedure, it causes several complications such as:
Allergy is a possible complication when non-hypoallergenic jewelry is used. Titanium and nobium are the most common hypoallergenic materials which can be used in dermal piercing.
Infection from viral, bacterial, and fungal origin is also possible. The most common microorganisms which cause infection are the Staphylococcus aureus, pseudomonas, and streptococcal species. Hepatitis B and C can also be acquired when infected needles and equipment are used.
During the healing process, hypertrophy of tissues around the area may cause scarring and keloid formation. Infected piercings are more susceptible for scar tissue formation due to abnormal tissue growth and regeneration.
Pain is an imminent risk for dermal piercing. The perforation in the skin causes the inflammatory response to be activated. Pain can be managed using anti-inflammatory medications and prevented by infrequent contact with the piercings.
The body recognizes the piercing as a foreign body that needs to be removed. As a result, the piercing may cause severe pain and produce discharge. A prolonged inflammatory reaction can also be a sign of rejection. When rejection is observed, removal of the piercing is required.
Dermal Piercing Removal
Removal is warranted when there is rejection of the jewelry or when the person chooses to remove the piercing for some reason. Dermal piercings are permanent because the jewelry is already embedded in the tissues after healing has taken place.
The removal requires another surgical procedure to be done by a medical professional in order to detach the jewelry from the tissues. It should never be removed at home because it may cause bleeding and tissue damage.
Dermal Piercing Costs
The general cost of dermal piercings is $75 to $100 in the United States and 40 to 50 pounds in the UK. The price of piercing does not really differ significantly. However, titanium is more cost-effective because it does not cause allergies and rejection.