Belly button rings have been around for so long that no one quite knows their history. Some theorize that the belly rings originated as an Egyptian ritual. In a weird parallel that only ancient Egypt would get, piercing your belly represented the liberation of your spirit from the mortal world into an eternal world. Others just speculate that it has to do with courage or manliness or some similar virtue. There’s no way to get the truth out of dead people, so we’ll just go with the most obvious reason ancient people would want belly button rings—they look awesome.
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About Belly Rings
Also called belly button piercings, navel rings, or navel piercings, belly button rings are small piercings on the top half of the belly button. Although they can take six months to heal, piercings done by experts can heal up much more quickly and with less migration. Belly button rings are unique in that they are technically a surface tattoo. This means that they are a piercing of skin, fat, and muscle, rather than just cartilage. They also stand out from surface piercings because they heal quickly and are rarely rejected by the body. They are one of the least risky piercings you can get, right up there with earlobe piercings.
Unlike ear piercings, there are optimal body types for navel piercings. I’m not talking about whether you are skinny or heavy set—I’m talking about the shape of the belly button itself. Because everyone has their umbilical cord fall off slightly differently, no two belly buttons are the same, and some people will have a difficult time getting their piercing. The ideal belly button would have extra skin or folds in the area that you want pierced. The better the fold is above the belly button, the more likely your body is to treat it as two separate wounds, rather than one wound with something stuck in it that needs to be rejected.
Getting a Belly Button Piercing
As with all piercings, you should have yours done by a professional piercer. Tattoo and piercing shops must be held to strict health code standards, so the professionals will know how to sterilize the area, deliver the piercing with the least amount of pain, pick the right belly button rings for you, and recognize emergencies if they come up. By practicing extra care, they ensure that you don’t get blood borne diseases like Hepatitis or HIV. If you already have a blood borne disease, they can ensure that you get your procedure done with minimal risk for you and anyone else in the studio.
On top of that, the piercer will be able to select hypoallergenic jewelry for your first piercing. I recommend purchasing rings or bracelets made of common trigger metals beforehand to see if you have a reaction. Nickel and copper are the biggest offenders, and many cheap gold and silver alloys could contain them. Hypoallergenic jewelry is made of 14-karat gold or higher, palladium, sterling silver with argentium, titanium, and ceramic. Tungsten is also hypoallergenic, but its incredibly hard material might not be the best thing to start with. It’s so hard that doctors need special equipment to saw off tungsten rings if the finger underneath them swells!
The piercer will have you lie on your back as they stretch the skin of the belly button. They use a needle to quickly insert the jewelry. It will hurt a little more than an ear piercing, but the pain is very fleeting. Once you have the jewelry, you have to be very careful not to move it too much, or your body will reject it.
Bottom Belly Button Piercing
Although belly button piercings are normally done on the top fold of the belly button, inverse navel piercings allow you to wear jewelry on the bottom of your belly button, too! Compared to top belly button piercing, you need to exercise even more caution during the healing process. Bottom belly button piercings take much longer to heal and they are in an area you are likely to move and stretch during daily activities.
Belly Button Ring Healing
Getting a belly button piercing is easy enough, but keeping it safe is another matter. Since it can take up to six months to heal, there’s a good chance that bacteria will find its way in. Here are some tips on keeping your belly button piercing healthy during the healing process so that you can switch belly rings in the near future!
First, be aware of what kind of clothes you are wearing. Even the light brush of fabric against the piercing can cause sensitive people to react. Wear a shirt with thin fabric and try not to put pressure on the area. A loose fitting shirt is the second best thing to wear, if you can’t find anything light—but you’ll have to make a trip to the store if you only have form-fitting clothes. Wearing low rise pants is also highly recommended. Jeans are especially hazardous, since they are made of heavy fabric and shift every time you sit. If your jewelry catches in your jeans, you’re going to have a terrible time if you stand up quickly without noticing!
Wash your hands frequently and only turn your belly button ring if it feels right to you. If the area is still sensitive, allow the jewelry to sit for another day. The more you move your jewelry, the more likely it is to migrate. This can cause crooked piercings or piercings that are larger than intended. In worst case scenarios, your body can push the ring out of your belly button entirely! To prevent this, only move your jewelry if you don’t feel soreness in the area.
If you want to wash the area, only do so with saline or rubbing alcohol. Will that hurt? Yes. But rubbing creams in the area is like asking for an infection. Even the anti-bacterial creams will clog up the piercing and promote infection. If you’re lucky, healing will only take a few weeks! If you’re not so lucky, it could take a year. The average healing time is 3-6 months, although you should be able to switch jewelry before it completely heals. Your doctor or piercer will tell you the recommended time for switching jewelry based on your body type and the type of hole they made. They will also certainly have aftercare advice, so listen to everything that they tell you!
Belly Button Ring Infections
Sometimes it happens. You did everything right—you only move it as much as you need to, you keep your hands washed, you rinse the area out with saline every now and then, you avoid using creams, and you avoid wearing clothing that could irritate the area. Even after all of that, infections happen. Here are the common symptoms of an infected belly button piercing so that you know to recognize them.
The worst symptoms of your piercing should fade away after a few days. If you notice that your body’s reaction is getting worse instead of better, take yourself to a doctor right away! Tenderness, redness, and swelling are common symptoms, but they aren’t certain ones. Yellow pus is sometimes associated with infections, while green pus is a sure sign! If there are bubbles or bumps of liquid in the area, something has gone wrong with the healing process, and a doctor or piercer might be able to correct it before it’s too late. If your piercing is still bleeding without being provoked or if your piercing seems to be expanding around the jewelry, you should see a doctor immediately. And, of course, if you are throwing up or feverish and don’t think you caught the flu, you should probably see a doctor.
Do you notice a trend with all of this? Doctors are awesome people who can help you out whenever you need them to. Their eyes are also trained to distinguish between an allergic reaction, an infection, and a rejection of a belly button piercing.
Unique Belly Button Rings
There are unique belly button rings for every person under the sun. From loops and hoops with exotic designs to rings designed for sensitive skin to jewelry made specifically for pregnant women, the industry has you covered. The best place to get unique belly button rings is, of course, the internet. Many Etsy stores will even allow you to commission unique designs! If you’re not ready to invest in a piercing yet, there are clip-on belly button rings out there for you.
When shopping for your first set of unique belly rings, try to get a variety. You shouldn’t start with a particular theme, you should explore them. You’ll notice that you have a favorite design, or perhaps a favorite shape, and you can expand your collection from there. You’d be surprised how quickly you can go from having just your starter jewelry to having a whole collection of belly button rings for every occasion! Belly rings can function as both a centerpiece and an accent to your personal fashion displays. They are an awesome way to express yourself, and you’re sure to find a different ring for every mood and whim you could have!
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