It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when industrial piercings became popular. There are so many variations in designs and sizes, but the initial procedure generally involves the same basic 14g barbell piercing. To the outsider, it can look like a new trend or a very old one.
Throughout history, there were clearly many cultures that embraced body modifications that looked more extreme than the industrial piercings we have today. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that this has been going on for thousands of years, similar to tattoos or even way before.
One thing is for sure, although the methods have been refined and the health care products improved, industrial piercings still take a very long time to heal and require so much more care, which is why they’re not for everyone.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Industrial Piercings are and What They Mean
- 2 How to Prepare for the Piercing
- 3 Weighing Pros and Cons
- 4 How to Help the Healing Process
- 5 Pain Expectations
- 6 How Much would it Actually Cost?
- 7 How Long will it Take to Heal?
- 8 Signs and Symptoms of Industrial Piercing Infections
- 9 Risks and Causes of Infection on Industrial Piercing and How To Avoid Them
- 10 Industrial Piercings for Men
- 11 Industrial Piercings for Women
- 12 Summary
- 13 Photos
What Industrial Piercings are and What They Mean
Also referred to as scaffold piercings, industrial piercings refer to any two holes of cartilage or tissue connected with a barbell. These are generally 1.5” apart and connected by a single straight barbell. While it’s not mandatory to use an industrial barbell from the beginning, it is recommended and common practice for piercers.
Here, we have a very pretty barbell earring on a female subject.
There is no special meaning attached to industrial piercings other than the one you give it through your choice of design. A lot of people just go on with the basic industrial barbell while others end up displaying flowers, crosses, tribal patterns, or reptiles like snakes, lizards, and anything else that has a natural elongated shape.
How to Prepare for the Piercing
Preparing for the day you get your piercing will help minimize the pain and uncomfortability.
First, consider your lifestyle and if you are willing to tweak it a little for the dream piercing that you are about to get. The piercing will definitely affect your day-to-day life for at least a month or so.
Believe it or not, your hair can be a huge deciding factor when it comes to your industrial piercing. Horizontal piercings tend to get stuck on long hair, so if you have that, then steer clear of the horizontal and opt for the vertical. Your jewelry getting stuck in your hair can actually cause your piercing to be irritated, therefore opening a chance of infection to your ear. If you have long hair, then it would be best to put it up before the process to get it out of the way.
You should also wear loose and comfortable clothes during the day of your piercing. Your earrings can get caught on your clothes, causing it to open up the wound and making it a breeding ground for bacteria.
Do these tips and tricks for the next couple of days or at least for the whole month to prevent your piercing from being infected.
Weighing Pros and Cons
Just as it is with any other piercing, industrial piercings are a matter of personal preference. If you want arguments for them then you don’t have to look past the visual impact. Unlike traditional piercings which are for the most part one-dimensional, industrial piercings can have way cooler designs and patterns.
Here’s a traditional industrial piercing.
They can also be improved later on, as being able to stretch out two holes can give you a whole new range of designs to experiment with in terms of girth, length, complexity, finish, and jewelry attachments.
The drawbacks of industrial piercings are the slow healing process and the special care that they require. While oral piercings are more prone to infections, they do heal faster and you can resume your normal activities sooner. With industrial piercings, it can take up to half a year before you’re able to switch designs, sleep on that ear, go for a swim, or play sports without worry.
A unique take on the industrial piercing.
The pain is also significant but not so much that it becomes a deterrent. Getting pierced is something that happens quickly, and you move on from it in a matter of hours. The lingering pain, however, is another story with industrial piercings because of how long it takes for the wounds to fully heal and the cartilage to adjust.
How to Help the Healing Process
First, it’s important to understand that the healing process for industrial piercings could take up to six months. Taking extra care of the wounds and protecting your ear could speed up the process, but not so much as the recovery period of smaller piercings. Even so, taking good care of your ear and its hygiene is important to avoid complications such as swelling and infections.
Use recommended sprays and solutions
As tempted as you are to clean your ear with soap or shower gel, it’s best if you just use water and the recommended solutions that a medical professional or your piercer advises you to.
Avoid using too many ice packs
It’s a natural instinct to put frozen bags of veggies or cold compresses on a part of your body that hurts. But you should try to refrain from doing this after getting an industrial piercing to avoid bringing bacteria into contact with the open wounds.
Don’t stretch the holes too soon
For most, getting industrial piercings is a stepping stone to stretching out the holes even more so they could fit bigger objects. If you’re new to piercings in general, it’s best that you consult your piercer before attempting to modify your holes. Also, don’t do it in the first few months as you could stop the healing process.
Don’t sleep on your newly pierced ear
This should be obvious, but a lot of people still underestimate the harm of sleeping on a newly pierced ear. While you might get away with it for a regular ear piercing, industrial piercings create two large holes and affect the entire ear’s sensitivity. No matter how soft your pillow is, just try and get used to sleeping on the other side.
Avoid places and bodies of water that can be crawling with bacteria
Swimming should be a no-go, no matter what and where you get pierced. It’s especially a cause for concern with industrial piercings because people might think that strapping on a swimmer’s cap would offer enough protection. Chances are that this won’t help and whether it’s chlorinated or untreated water you’re swimming in, you will expose yourself to either inflammation or infection.
Minimize the amount of alcohol and nicotine you consume
Everything that you put into your body that could affect your health is going to prevent it from being efficient at regenerating tissue. There’s a lot that goes into fixing your tissue and cartilage, especially for two different holes in close proximity.
Generally, keeping your entire body as healthy as possible will help speed up the healing process. Industrial piercings can take a huge toll on your body’s regenerative abilities, so you should do whatever you can to keep the process going by not limiting yourself to caring for the outside of your ear.
Now that you know you’ll be getting two holes instead of one from industrial piercings, you probably think they hurt more than the average piercing. Ordinarily, we would say that everyone experiences pain differently and depending on your own threshold, your experience might be tolerable or very uncomfortable.
Will it Hurt?
You bet it will. When it comes to industrial piercings, the initial hole may actually be very bearable. It is the second hole that will cause you real pain. As the ear begins to swell from the first penetration, your pain sensors slowly flare up and the entire ear becomes irritated. Most people when asked to compare the differences generally agree that piercing the ear the second time can be as much as three times more painful than the initial one.
The pain that you will experience during the piercing is different from the healing process. During the piercing, you will experience a jolt of pain once the needle pushes through your ear. It is similar to that of a hard pinch, it is a very sharp pain. The healing process ha more of that throbbing effect and you can experience your ear to be red and swollen during this period.
This is How the Process Goes
The first thing that the piercer or artist will ask you is to sit on his chair. He will then proceed and have the area disinfected with his own special concoction. Most piercers use 99% alcohol or a mixture of water and soap to disinfect the area that will be pierced. This helps prevent the possibility of getting an infection due to a bacteria being pushed through the holes in your ear.
The areas that will be pierced will then be marked, so the piercer knows where to properly place the needle. They will then ask you to look at the marks in the mirror and ask you if you think the marks are good enough.
After you confirm, they will place a sharp and hollow piercing needle from the outside of your ear. This same needle will then enter the inside of your cartilage, creating two holes with one earring.
You can definitely choose the type of earring that will be used for your piercing, but always remember that the fancier the earring, the more expensive your piercing will cost.
How Long will it Hurt?
Since the industrial piercing requires two holes to be pierced in just one sitting, the pain will be a little bit worse compared to other conventional piercings. The part of the ear that will be pierced has tougher and thicker tissue and can be more sensitive compared to other parts of the ear.
You do not have to worry though, as the initial pain will be gone in a minute or two. If your pain threshold is high, then you can expect to feel lesser pain.
However, the healing process is a whole different story. Since the tissue on those parts of your ear is tougher and more sensitive, it will take a bit longer for it to heal. Expect it to completely heal within a period of six to eight months, although the pain and throbbing will mostly be gone in just a month.
The Healing Process
There’s also something to be said about the healing process. You should be prepared for more pain than you’re usually accustomed to from a single piercing. Industrial piercings take longer to fully heal. Because of the larger size of the wounds and the close proximity, anything that slightly touches your ear could cause pain for at least the first two weeks.
Industrial piercings can be a bit more difficult to sleep on, most especially because it is located on your ear. Because of this, swelling and flaring up is a common thing, so don’t be too worked up when this happens. As long as you keep your piercing clean at all times, you will be all good.
If you happen to see pus or blood oozing on your piercing though, then go ahead and see your doctor right away.This might mean that your piercing caught an infection. Listen to your doctor and follow your piercer’s aftercare tips to prevent these things from happening.
What Can Affect The Pain in my Piercing?
There are certain things that can affect the pain that you are experiencing on your piercing.
First, not sleeping enough can make you more susceptible to pain during your piercing session. Additionally, sleeping less during the healing period can also delay the healing process. Make sure to get enough sleep before the day of your piercing, as well as during the healing process.
Second, the placing of your industrial piercing makes a huge difference. You can either choose to have it done horizontally or vertically. The length of the piercing is totally up to you as well. You can ask you piercer where the piercing will hurt most, as they are trained and they would most likely know the answer to this question.
Third, being under the influence of drugs and alcohol can actually make your piercing more painful. Alcohol automatically and temporarily thins your blood out, which is why it is not a good idea to drink it before getting a piercing. Blood will more likely flow easily, making your piercing and wound bloodier and more difficult to pull off for the piercer.
Fourth, your piercer’s skills and experience can contribute to the pain that you will experience when getting pierced. Choose a piercer that has proper training and experience when it comes to doing industrial piercings.
Ask your piercer if you can get a numbing cream placed on or near the areas that need to be pierced to lessen the pain.
What Should I do to Deal with the Pain?
Preparing for your piercing is a must, especially if you want to lessen the pain. Listen to some music or have a friend tag along and talk to you during the procedure. This will help you relax and be less stiff during the process.
Another thing to note is that you must be free from any type of stressor during the procedure. Eat before you go to your piercer’s shop to minimize the risk of fainting. Lastly, wear comfortable clothes to help you relax during the piercing.
How Much would it Actually Cost?
Estimating the costs of an industrial piercing is always difficult, especially if you are reading this article from outside of the United States.
A lot of factors can affect the costs of your piercing: the experience and skills of your piercer, the location of his shop, his credibility, the country you are currently in, the living costs in your country, and the placement of your piercing.
If you are in the United States, you can expect your industrial piercing to cost between 30 to 90 USD.
Every piercer or tattoo artist charges different rates, and there is no way to tell how much exactly a certain piercing would cost.
Your best bet would just be to visit the piercer’s shop, explain what you want, and ask for a quote. Do your research before finally choosing your piercer, as getting one from an inexperienced artist can only cost you more when it comes to infections and medicines.
How Long will it Take to Heal?
If you are disciplined enough to follow the aftercare that your piercer asks you to do, then you can expect your piercing to heal in a month.
For most people though, the healing period can take longer. Some people find that it takes three to six months for their industrial piercings to fully heal.
If you want to get an industrial piercing on both ears, then you must never get it at the same time. This will make it more difficult for you to go on with your day-to-day life, as you would have to think about taking care and cleaning both ears. This will also make it difficult for you to sleep on either side, so you would have no choice but to sleep on your back or on your tummy.
Always listen to your piercer and do the proper aftercare like cleaning your piercing every day and keeping your hair out of your ears.
Signs and Symptoms of Industrial Piercing Infections
Not all piercing get infected but sadly, some of them do. It is crucial to watch out for signs and symptoms of infections when it comes to your industrial piercing.
If it looks sore, red, and tender to the touch, then you most likely have an infection. An infection is known to take place when harmful or bad bacteria starts to build up on one or both of your piercing’s holes.
Our body and system are full of bacteria, but most of it is good. When bad bacteria starts to grow massively on our bodies due to foreign objects being introduced to it, that is when the infection starts to harbour.
You should immediately call your doctor if you notice these symptoms:
- Redness on the piercing even after a couple of days
- Pus coming out from both the holes of your piercing
- Soreness and tender to the touch
- Pain in the pierced area
Risks and Causes of Infection on Industrial Piercing and How To Avoid Them
Now that we have tackled the signs and symptoms that you should watch out for after having your industrial piercing, it is time to discuss the risks and how you can get an infection.
First, you have to make sure that the place that you are getting your piercing is a hundred percent sanitary. Most parlours and studios follow a strict set of rules when it comes to hygiene and sanitation. Most of them want what’s best for their clients as of course, they never want you to contract any type of disease or infection.
However, some tattoo and piercing parlours still run the risk of giving you an infection due to their unsanitary conditions. This is why it is important to choose a parlour that looks clean and trustworthy. Before piercing any area of your body, make sure to watch the artist and see if he washes his hand. They should be wearing a new set of gloves, too. The body are should also be cleaned thoroughly before piercing, and a new and sterile needle should be used for it.
Second, avoid touching your piercing while it is still in the healing process. Your hands can be full of bacteria, so make sure to refrain from touching your piercing. If you are going to clean it, you should wash your hands first before touching it.
Third, avoid getting the jewelry caught in your clothes while it is still in the healing process. This can make the piercing swell and susceptible to infections.
Fourth, wear the right type of jewelry. This is definitely a must, especially if your skin is sensitive to these types of materials. Avoid using cheap metal or acrylic jewelry when having any part of your body pierced. Ask your artist to use surgical stainless steel, surgical implant titanium, niobium, or tygon. Sure, they are much more expensive than the metal and alloy ones, but with these materials, you can be sure that you will avoid the risk of running an infection or allergic reaction.
Fifth, remember to clean your piercing until it has completely finished healing. Use a mixture of salt and water to clean your piercing and avoid tugging on the skin too much, as this can only irritate the piercing.
Industrial Piercings for Men
It’s hard to say if industrial piercings are more common in men or women. One thing is certain, and that is that both genders use them for the same reason: showing off something special that doesn’t look like all the basic earrings that people wear.
The usual barbell industrial piercing for men.
However, men do seem to favor more basic barbell designs. While you will see cool arrow heads or spikes from time to time, there’s just not as much variety in jewelry attachments. That being said, men usually have a big advantage over women when it comes to getting industrial piercings.
Your not-so-typical arrow earring for an industrial piercing on a man.
In the aftermath of getting their ears pricked, men have an easier time protecting the ear and the piercing from their hair. It’s not that men don’t wear long hair. It’s just that it’s not that common among men. This means that there’s a lower likelihood that hair will get stuck in the piercings while running, sleeping, showering, etc. Of course, guys who wear a Thor-like head of hair are going to deal with the same issues that women have when getting these piercings.
Semi-connecting industrial piercing.
A classic take on the industrial piercing.
Industrial Piercings for Women
As if women didn’t have enough to accessorize with, industrial piercings offer a whole lot more to work with. The jewelry and designs you can experiment with as a woman almost makes industrial piercings feel like must-haves.
An earring with a feather hanging from it.
Names, animals, flowers, gold beads, diamond beads, you name it and your piercing or tattoo parlor probably has it. Even though many women still opt for the standard 14g barbell industrial piercing once the healing process is over, there’s just a lot more to experiment with.
A barbell earring with gem stones on it.
Since most women tend to have long hair, taking care of the ear after the procedure will likely require extra care, and perhaps even a hairstyle change to be on the safe side.
A unique beehive earring for an industrial earring.
Industrial piercings take a bigger toll on you due to their aggressiveness. However, no form of body modification comes without some risks and its share of discomfort, but industrial piercings seem to have more to offer in terms of aesthetics. Whether on men or women, they have a wider range of accessories to go with, more design choices, and they can really make a statement as there’s no way anyone will miss them.
Starting with the basic barbell design, here are some pictures that take you through the journey of getting, wearing, and exploring different designs of industrial piercings. Through the following pictures, you’ll be able to get familiarize with some popular ideas for men and for women.
An arrow or spear earring for an industrial piercing.
A very classical barbell earring used for an industrial piercing.
A fork earring for a girl’s industrial piercing.
A barbell earring with a gemstone on the center.
Multiple spearhead earrings on just one ear.
A very simple barbell earring with a gem stone in the middle.
A lightning bolt as an earring.
A three-head earring for a man’s industrial piercing.
Your usual barbell earring and industrial piercing.
Multiple ear piercings including an industrial one.
An industrial piercing along with other cute earrings.
A purple barbell earring.
Classical barbell earrning on a woman’s industrial piercing.
Industrial piercing with a pretty gemstone in the middle.
A very stylish industrial piercing and earrings.
Blue gems at the end of each earring head.
A longer earring was used for this piercing.
A snake as an earring.
A dragon as an earring.