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Some Basic Piercing Knowledge: Proper Body Piercing Names and Terms

o those who are just starting out, learning all the names of, and terms related to the piercings that interest you may be nerve-wracking. This is not here to cover everything, but to hopefully correct some common mistakes! When someone is asking questions regarding piercings on the forum boards, it is important that we can communicate effectively. In fact, being able to describe things accurately to your piercer makes their job easier and eliminates “mistakes” as a result of miscommunication between the piercer and piercee. Let’s start with some basics. It may not mean much to the person saying it, but to some experienced pierced folks it can be equivalent to nails running across a chalk board!

Tongue rings - There are few piercings that actually use a ring for jewelry in the tongue. A standard tongue piercing is actually done with a straight barbell. It may not sound like a big deal, but there have been some wackos with needles out there who thought this was a good idea so we can never be too sure! If you are referring to a tongue piercing please call it what it is – a standard or normal tongue piercing (straight barbell through the center of the tongue), venoms (side tongue piercings, usually done with barbells as well) and the tongue web (which is the little piece of flesh in the center under your tongue aka lingular frenulum, that can be pierced with a barbell or a ring).

Navel rings – Is it a ring or a curved barbell (or a special kind of curved barbell called a navel curve or bananabell)? This is important when asking a question because different kinds of jewelry have different problems commonly associated with them. Rings are known to lean to one side and snag more, causing difficulty in healing. This is not the case for all people though, because piercing placement and jewelry is determined by the piercee’s anatomy. You should never have a straight barbell in your navel. They are prone to irritation and rejection and a straight barbell is just aiding those in taking place.

Nose piercings – Do you realize there are many different kinds? Most commonly this refers to a standard nostril piercings, but bear in mind there are also septum piercings, high nostrils, multiple nostrils, and bridge piercings (which some people refer to as “nose”). Be a smart piercee. Know what kind of jewelry your piercer is going to put in. If you are getting a nostril piercing is it a captive bead ring (CBR) or nostril screw? You should never be pierced with a nose bone (straight bar with a small bulb on the end) because they are difficult and traumatic to your body to remove. They are also not long enough to accommodate the swelling you may experience. These should only be worn in a well healed piercing and you should expect to have to cut them to remove them if it does not come out easily to avoid ripping your piercing. A nostril screw is a stud with a twisted, sort of L-shaped bend at the bottom. This can be adjusted to fit your nose because the nostril cartilage can be thick on some people and thinner on others. When purchasing a pre-bent nostril screw, be aware of the length of the straight portion of the screw.

Gauging or gauges - This is one of my particular pet peeves. When you gauge something you are determining a measurement. A gauge of jewelry refers to its size – not the type of jewelry it is. ALL body jewelry has a gauge, which is the thickness of the body of the jewelry. Refer to Tribalectic’s gauge guide for help determining thickness. When you want to enlarge a piercing, it is done through a process called “stretching.” (see the Tribalectic Stretching Guide) The name says it all, you are taking a hole that is currently one size and enlarging it to the next size up by stretching the flesh. When the jewelry is stretched, a taper is used. They are called by their names, not by saying “my gauges.” If your name is Sue, you want to be called Sue, not “the girl.” This is the same principal. So, when you want to make your piercings bigger you will stretch them and wear “insert size here” gauge jewelry in them, which has a name depending on what it is.

Please feel free to amend this through the comments and add in anything that I missed. This was just meant to be an example and to inform piercees of common mistakes that honestly sound ignorant and make being helpful difficult.