Surprising facts about why we pierce our ears, plus a jeweller shares 5 tips for taking care of your piercings

Portrait of a pierced smiling young woman. Photographer:  
Santiago Iñiguez / EyeEm
Portrait of a pierced smiling young woman. Photographer: Santiago Iñiguez / EyeEm
Santiago Iñiguez / EyeEm

How piercings are viewed thoroughout our lives can be very contradicting.

Everyone thinks a baby with little studs in her ears is the cutest thing ever. However, when a teen decides to get a piercing on other parts of her body she easily attracts disapproving looks.

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As much it is easy to believe piercings were introduced around the 40s when rock and roll became popular, they date back to as far as 5 000 years ago. Otzi, the oldest mummy was discovered in 1991 with holes in his ears and a part of that amazing discovery was the realisation that the tradition of decorating our ears has existed long before we did.

In ancient African civilizations, piercings had many cultural meanings apart from being a form of body modification. According to Face2Face Africa, here are some of the reasons ancient African civilizations had piercings:

Ear piercing:

Some of the first recorded ear piercings arose among some primitive tribes for magical purposes. People believed evil spirits entered the body through the ear. The evil spirits were said to abhor metal of any form. The natives consequently wore metals on their ears to repel those spirits.

Nose piercing:

Nose piercing is still a common practice among the Berber and Bedouin people of North Africa and the Middle East. In these traditions, a man gives a woman a gold ring when they are about to get married. She continues to wear this gold ring while married to him and in case they divorce, the lady takes the ring off, sells it and uses it as her financial settlement.

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Navel (belly) piercing:

Navel piercings were known to be reserved for the Pharaoh only in ancient Egypt. If any other person was seen with this form of piercing the person could be killed. In those times, navels were likened to the genitals of women and hence women were not allowed to show them off.

Nipple piercing:

In the mountains of Algeria, nipple piercing is still practised among the women of the Nomadic Kabyle tribe. It was believed that pierced nipples were the best nipples. Even in ancient Rome, men pierced their nipples to signify strength and resilience.

With all the restrictions, traditions and superstitions from back in the day, in 2019 we now have the freedom to get pierced in any area you would like, but you must note that it is important to get knowledge regarding the safety to avoid getting infections and damaging your body.

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Kristin Weixelbaumer from jewellery brand, Black Betty, gives us the 5 tips you need to know before, during and after getting a piercing:

1. Ask questions.

You are about to have someone create a hole in your ear with a needle, you must ask as many questions as you like. When you have all the information you need, you will feel more relaxed and confident about your decision.

2. Make sure you have your ears pierced by a professional

Getting your friend to bring along their long needle and some surgical spirits to spear your earlobe does not count. A professional offers a hygienic studio and hygienic equipment, is competent in placing the piercing and can give sound advice on how to look after your ear especially during the early days after the procedure.

3. Choose the right metal

Choosing the right metal for your earring is a must because not all earrings are suitable for just-pierced-ears. Hypoallergenic nickel-free metals are the best metal options when it comes to choosing your earring and to reduce the risk of infection and allergic reactions. Silver should only be an option once your piercing has healed.

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4. Don’t ignore the aftercare regime.

Your piercer will be able to give you the correct information on how to look after your piercing, and it is important not to abandon their advice. Just because is it looking good a week after the piercing, does not mean that infection won’t set in later. Keep vigilant when looking after your newly pierced ear. 

5. Choose the correct earring style.

Choose an earring style that you really like, because for up to eight weeks you will be wearing it. It will take time for your piercing to heal, and if you take your earring out before it has healed, your hole can close-up,  sending you back to your piercer to start all over again.

Which piercing do you have and why? Tell us here

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