Although the discomfort associated with a belly button piercing may be short term, care of the piercing is a long-term commitment. Clean the area gently to cut down on infection risk, and choose your clothing wisely so it won't snag on the piercing. Weigh the responsibility of a belly button piercing against your desire for the glitzy body adornment as you decide whether the piercing is right for you.
Belly Button Piercing Basics
The piercing process uses a hollow needle to create a hole through the skin surrounding your belly button. Then, your belly button ring of choice -- from a hoop or barbell to a pendant or stud -- is placed through the newly created hole. This body adornment has aesthetic advantages, but comes with health risks.
Pros: The Fashion
A belly button piercing, like other forms of body art, allows you to express your style.
A Hint of Sparkle
Piercing your navel is a form of personal expression, and lets you adorn your mid-section in a very personal way. An edgy look calls for a classic hoop or barbell in gold or sterling silver. For a hint of sparkle, a pendant navel ring encrusted with gemstones will draw attention to your tummy.
When you don't want it to show, a belly button piercing is easy to conceal compared to other piercings. Unless you're wearing a bikini or crop top, your navel ring won't be visible. Therefore, your piercing won't be a problem in conservative environments such as the workplace, where body jewelry might be frowned upon.
Cons: The Risks
Despite the appeal of sparkling body jewelry, belly button piercings come with disadvantages -- and these can affect your health.
Slow Healing Time
The navel is slow to heal after a piercing, a process which could take from nine months to a year to complete. Careful cleaning of the area during this period is essential to minimize the risk of infection.
Allergic Reactions to Jewelry
While most rings are made of sterling silver, gold, niobium, or titanium, nickel is often added to strengthen and harden the jewelry. The nickel can trigger an allergic reaction, which can show up as a rash, skin swelling, dry patches and blisters.
Opt for a nickel-free navel ring to minimize skin irritation.
Belly button piercings can lead to infections. During the piercing, a less than sterile environment or unsanitized equipment can transmit viruses including hepatitis A and C. Likewise, bacteria like Staphylococcus and Streptococcus can be spread when skin is not properly cleaned. Tight-fitting clothing against the navel can also increase the risk of bacterial infections.
If you have an infection or open wound, delay your belly button piercing until the problem has resolved. An existing abrasion increases your risk of complications during the piercing procedure. Other conditions such as uncontrolled diabetes or immune system deficiencies may up your risk of infection. Talk to your doctor about the risks associated with a belly button piercing, especially if you have one of these conditions.
If you notice redness, swelling, discharge, a rash or a bad smell from the piercing site, contact your doctor for a thorough evaluation.