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How to Sterilize Body Piercing Jewelry

Are you worried that a piece of jewelry may lead to an infection or develop some inflammation on your skin? Want to know how to sterilize body piercing jewelry? Then read the following article.
ThoughtfulTattoos Staff
Body piercing is quite a fashion statement these days. If you are interested in getting a body piercing done, you should be aware of the ways in which you can sterilize your jewelry, so that you are safe from the infections which result if proper care is not taken of the jewelry. This is specially the case if you have pierced a sensitive part of your body, or a part that is exposed to dirt and dust easily, like your nose, eyebrows, etc. In such cases, the risk of infection and allergies is more, because the dirt/ dust can collect in the pierced hole if it is big enough, and the piercing may become septic/ inflamed. To avoid such painful situations from occurring, following the basic hygiene and sterilization precautions is a must. The following paragraphs will describe how to sterilize body piercing jewelry, to avoid any health risks.
Ways to Clean Body Piercing Jewelry
Warm Water and Antibacterial Soap
This treatment is recommended ONLY if you are using your own jewelry that you haven't used for a long time, or a new piece of jewelry. If you are using someone else's jewelry, then you have to use a more effective method called autoclave method (described below), for cleaning it properly. For cleaning your own old jewelry or a new piece, heat water in a clean vessel and add a few drops of liquid disinfectant/ antibacterial soap to it. Immerse the piece of jewelry in this solution for at least 5 - 10 minutes, immediately before inserting it into the piercing.
Caution: Avoid using soaps or disinfectants which have added fragrances, as they contain chemicals which may negatively react with the jewelry.
Alcohol or Peroxide
Rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol is another method of disinfecting your jewelry. But again, this method is to be used ONLY if your own old jewelry or new jewelry is being used. Immerse your jewelry in the alcohol and let it soak in the solution for 10 minutes, prior to inserting it in the piercing. This is not a very effective method for killing all the germs/ bacteria. Besides, it may cause discoloring of the jewelry, and may also irritate your skin if the jewelry is inserted into the piercing without being cleaned properly. Also, cleaning with peroxide may cause the jewelry to smell really bad. For oral piercings, it is recommended that you use oral antiseptic rinse or mouthwash. Betadine, Hexetidine, Listerine, etc., are usually preferred.
Caution: It is 99% effective, but it does not kill spores. So, it is basically used for disinfecting rather than sterilizing.
Boiling Water
This the simplest method that you can try for sterilizing any piece of jewelry. Just boil water in a vessel, and keep the jewelry in the vessel while it's boiling. Let it boil for 15 - 20 minutes, before taking it out and inserting it into the piercing after cleaning and drying it suitably. Again, this method is 99% effective, but definitely better than the alcohol method, since it not only disinfects, but also sterilizes, thus helping in preventing the risks associated with body piercing.
Steam Treatment
This is the best bet to sterilize your jewelry at home. Clean up your cooker thoroughly, and put the jewelry in it with enough water. Make use of autoclave bags to hold your jewelry, and allow maximum steam penetration when you put it in the cooker. Allow for 10 - 12 whistles, letting the jewelry be inside for at least 45 minutes. It is very important to dry the jewelry properly before inserting it into the piercing. This will clean the jewelry thoroughly and kill all the spores, so that the jewelry is properly sterilized.
Autoclave
This method is expensive, and you will have to rent the autoclave machine for it. But it is also the best way to sterilize your jewelry. It is very similar to the steam treatment method mentioned above. Actually, the steam treatment is a substitute for the autoclave method, since it is difficult to find autoclaves to rent, besides which it is impractical to rent such a big and expensive machine for a comparatively small piece of jewelry. It is affordable if you are a professional, and regularly need to clean a lot of jewelry. Alternately, you could give your jewelry to someone who will autoclave it for you.
Tests for Ensuring Proper Sterilization
Sterilization Index Test: Make sure you check the sterilization index, while having your jewelry autoclaved. It should indicate exposure to steam at around 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The minimum sterilization standards have to be met, in order to say that the sterilization has been a success.
Spore Test: Make sure you carry out a spore test on your jewelry, to ensure that it has been properly sterilized. This test should tell you whether all the bacteria and germs have been killed, and also whether all the spores have been killed. It is more difficult to get rid of spores as compared to bacteria, and this test will let you know how successful you have been, in getting rid of those spores.
Heat Indicators: This is not exactly a test, but more of a confirmation that the packet placed in the autoclave or cooker has been exposed to the right amount of heat, for the treatment to prove effective. They have a minimum temperature mark that has to be passed, to ensure that the right temperature has been achieved.
Fashion cannot come at the expense of causing discomfort or harm to yourself, and by following the basic body piercing tips and precautions, you should be safe while flaunting all the piercings that you want. Better safe than sorry, right?
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