Two of the most common issues with body piercings are allergic reactions and infection. Correct care and cleaning of piercings are crucial, but the type of metal in the piercing jewelry you choose is also very important. The following are the top 3 best metals for body jewelry, and two choices that you should stay away from.
THE 3 BEST METALS FOR BODY JEWELRY:
#1 Implant Grade Titanium
Titanium is by far the metal of choice for body piercing jewelry, and can be safely used for initial piercings. Implant grade titanium G23 (Ti6al4v-ELI) is the type of titanium used in surgical implants, is biocompatible, resistant to body fluids and nickel free. Titanium is also stronger and lighter than steel, which gives us body piercing jewelry that is both durable, comfortable and nearly without scratches. Titanium is an expensive metal, but well worth the slightly higher price. Titanium body jewelry is beautiful, it lasts, and will look (just the same after many years of wear.
#2 Surgical Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is the most common metal for body piercing jewelry, and is just behind titanium when it comes to biocompatibility. 316L or 316LVM are the only two grades of stainless steel that are considered safe for wearing in healed piercings. Keep in mind that even the best grades of stainless steel do contain nickel and may cause problems for those who are allergic to nickel. Some countries have banned the use of stainless steel for initial piercings, and it is best to steer clear of stainless steel altogether until after your piercing is completely.
Although it is beautiful, gold is not the best choice for body jewelry, especially for initial piercings or long term wear. Because gold is a softer metal and is made with metal alloys, there is a somewhat higher risk of irritation or infection. Gold jewelry is beautiful, but should only be worn in healed piercings, and with care. Replace gold body jewelry with titanium at the first sign of irritation.
Sterling Silver: Do not purchase any body jewelry where the part that threads under your skin (barbell, banana, ring) is made of silver. Sterling silver tarnishes when it comes in contact with body fluids, can easily harbor bacterial growth, and can contain allergy-causing metals such as nickel. Body jewelry where a sterling silver “charm” that is attached to or dangles from the end of the steel or titanium bar is perfectly fine, so long as you aren’t allergic to silver jewelry. Just make sure that the part that is inside your body is made from a more biocompatible metal.
Mystery Metal: Scary. Any “costume” or “plated” body jewelry is a bad idea, and so is poor quality stainless steel. Stick with the top 3 choices above to be sure your piercing stays irritation and infection-free.
Remember that a body piercing jewelry is placed inside you, and should be treated more like a surgical implant than a piece of costume jewelry. Although it may be tempting to buy cheaper body jewelry, spending a little more on higher quality jewelry is definitely a better way to go in the long run.