Dermal Piercing - Pain, Healing, Risks, Aftercare, Procedure

Dermal piercing may be referred to as a microdermal or a single-point piercing and it’s a type of skin piercing that is done on flat surfaces of an individual’s body and held in place using dermal anchors installed underneath the skin. With ordinary body piercings, usually they have an exit and entry point where the jewelry is put, however, when it comes to dermal piercings, you find that the jewelry sits on the skin’s surface and secured using an anchor entrenched under the flesh or the dermal layer. When you have this kind of piercing, you look as though you have small beads resting on the skin’s surface.

One reason why dermal piercing is so popular these days is because a piercer can place it on any flat body surface allowing people to decorate body areas that tend to be difficult to pierce when having the regular piercings. A piercer can be creative and form different patterns with use of multiple dermals. Similarly, an ornament may be attached to the dermal piercing as seen with some dermal finger piercings.

How a Dermal Piercing is Done

Dermal Piercing Problems

Usually, dermal piercings do not have exit points, there is only the entry point. The jewelry is pushed into the body through a hole where it is held in place using an anchor inserted under the skin’s surface. A professional piercer will use a dermal punch or a needle to create the hole where the jewelry is inserted. The anchor that is used to hold the jewelry has a round-base or is footed so that it can stay in place under the skin. The jewelry is then screwed onto the footed or round-base anchor. 

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Dermal Piercing With a Needle – The Process

If a needle is used to install a dermal piercing, it makes an L-shaped pouch rather than just making a hole. During the process, the skin area is sterilized with use of a surgical scrub and marked using some ink to ensure precision. The piercer will then insert a needle into an individual’s skin and pull it out. In this case, a pocket or pouch is created to allow the anchor to be inserted.

The piercer takes a forceps and uses it to insert the anchor’s base plate into the pocket or hole. The anchor’s base has to be pushed so that it rests completely underneath the skin being parallel to the surface. The piercer will now screw the jewelry onto the anchor’s screw head. At times, you may have the jewelry attached prior to inserting the anchor onto the skin surface. When doing the piercing, the right needles have to be used. An appropriate needle-size will depend on the area where the piercing is being done and the individual’s skin anatomy.  

Dermal Piercing Using a Dermal Punch – The Process

If a dermal punch is used to create the point of inserting the anchor, it has to be done properly. In this case, the pouch is created in a different way. A needle will make a pouch through separation of skin, however, a dermal punch works pretty different in that the pouch is created by removing some tissue. The base plate as well as the anchor and jewelry are installed. Dermal piercings are mostly done with use of a dermal punch – reason being that the punch tends to be less painful compared to a needle. It is also safer to use the punch than a needle because it is designed with a protective mechanism to prevent going deeper into the skin tissue. 

Dermal Piercing Vs. Surface Piercing

How Long Does Dermal Piercing Take To Heal

You may find that people use the terms ‘surface piercing’ and ‘dermal piercing’ interchangeably, or to imply the same thing, however, there is a difference between the two. Surface piercings are those involving barbell piercings sitting on the skin surface. Unlike the traditional dermal piercings also referred to microdermal implants, the surface piercings or transdermal implants tend to be more invasive. They have both an exit and entry point. So, rather than having the jewelry secured using an anchor, a piercer uses a barbell that is inserted into the site ensuring the opposite ends of the barbell protrude from the skin and the middle bar rests into the flesh.

The piercer pinches the skin then sticks a needle so that a passage way is created for the jewelry.

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Since a dermal anchor comes with a base for holding the jewelry piece at a 90 degree angle, there are holes in it some of which are small and others large. Upon placing the anchor under the dermis, the skin will begin to heal. New skin grows through the anchor’s holes attaching to the skin within the other side. Since the skin is growing through the holes, it ensures that the dermal piercing stays in place without the issue of budging.

Are There Risks of Migration with Dermal Piercing?

Yes, dermal piercings can migrate as the body tries to reject them. Of all kinds of body piercings, it is perceived that dermal piercings have a higher probability of migrating or being rejected. Before the skin grows around the piece of jewelry, you may find that the body will try to defend itself because it sees it as a foreign object.

The jewelry may be pushed closer to the skin surface until it is removed. Because dermal implants or piercings don’t penetrate deeper into the individual’s skin, they tend to have a higher risk of being rejected. The less skin surface is available to hold the jewelry in place, it means the more the chances of the dermal piercing being pushed out by the body. That said, there are ways a piercer and the individual receiving the dermal piercing can help keep it in place.

You may want to have the piercing done on the body part with more skin. Locations such as the face, sternum, throat, and nape experience more jewelry rejection than others. You may also consider using niobium or titanium jewelry instead of stainless steel. In the event that you are having a surface piercing, you can try to have a larger gauge. For example, 16 or 18-gauge piercing barbells tend to be small meaning they can easily migrate compared to gauge 12 or 14.  

How Long Does Dermal Piercing Take To Heal?

Are There Risks of Migration with Dermal Piercing

A dermal piercing takes about one to three months to heal, but sometimes it may take longer based on the location of the piercing. You want to make sure you protect the piercings so that it is not pulled out, removed, or moved around. Care must be taken because the piercing could be trapped or caught by towels and clothes thus moving it around or pulling it out. Avoid fabrics that have small holes.

Dermal Piercings – Pros and Cons

There are many benefits of having dermal piercings, but there are also disadvantages. The best thing with dermal piercings is that individuals can have them placed in almost any location on the body. For example, you can have one inserted below the eye. You can work around the piercings to create the patterns and decorations you want. For instance, you can outline the hip’s curve or get a dermal piercing placed on toe or finger so that it appears as though you have a ring. The possibilities are limitless.

A downside with the dermal piercings is that you may have rejection or migration. While the footed or base anchor reduces the chances of migration, you need to realize that protection is key to prevent the piercing from being snagged, pulled out, or displaced. It’s natural to have the piercing ejected by the body just the same way a splinter is ejected. So, just make sure you have proper aftercare. 

Dermal Piercing Problems

You may encounter problems with the piercing even when you observe proper aftercare. So, you want to know how you can deal with the piercing problems and reduce complications.

Crusties: A common complaint reported by people who have received dermal piercings is the crusties that develop during the healing time. As the body works to heal the wound, it will secrete lymph substance, which may dry and form a whitish crust within the external piercings. You need not worry much about crusties because they are part of the healing process. Whenever they form around the piercing, what you need to do is to soak a cotton ball inside saline wash then hold it against the piercing. Do so gently until you have the crustie softening and then wipe it away using a cotton swab.

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Infection: If the piercing has a thick, yellowish discharge, or red streaks forming around it, and the skin feels hot when you touch it, then there may be an infection. You may want to see a doctor so that you are prescribed an antibiotic to treat the infection. Proper aftercare is required so make sure you have the piercing healing well without complications.

Dermal Piercing Using a Dermal Punch

Displaced dermals:  Your piercing may be displaced if it is snagged or you bumped it. It may be slightly pulled out or it is slightly pushed below the piercing hole or the edge of the fistula. The best thing to do when this happens is to visit your piercer to correct the problem. When you have a displaced dermal corrected, you need to treat it as though it is a new piercing. So, you will have to begin the aftercare process all over even if you had a month of healing. This is because the tissue that was holding the anchor may not be present anymore, so it has to grow again.

Scarring: Scars after a dermal piercing develop differently in individuals, some people are prone to them than others. Environmental factors may also be associated with scarring. With closed and existing dermal piercings, there may occur two types of scars which are – keloids and hypertrophic scars.

Keloids aren’t so common and you may find that many people who have issues with hypergranulation tend to think that they have actually developed a keloid. Developing a keloid may be associated with family relations, so if there is a member of the family who has previously developed keloids, it could as well happen to you. Keloid scarring is mostly a genetic issue. It is important to note that if you are at risk of developing keloids, you should not have dermal piercings. You could have a very serious scar that may require the intervention of a dermatologist or even bring other skin complications.

That said, hypertrophic scars tend to be more common and they form soon you have the piercing, around the site of the jewelry rather than sprawling as with the case of keloids. Hypertrophic scars are flat-topped and look small and round. They stay closer to your natural skin color and tone. If you develop a hypertrophic scar after having a dermal piercing, you can use home remedies like jojoba oil that has a natural skin moisturizing property and helps reduce scarring. You may as well use another product like a silicone gel to treat the scar. It helps shrink the scar and reduce the redness.

Hypergranulation: When you receive a dermal piercing, you may have a red bump forming around the fistula edge or the piercing hole. This may be referred to as hypergranulation. In other types of piercings, having hypergranulation indicates that the jewelry is just too tight, but with dermal piercings, it is mostly a sign that there is pressure or moisture problem. This may happen if you cover the piercing too often, so you may want to stop doing that for a while to allow the piercing to breathe.

A dermal piercing that is on your hips may have hypergranulation related to pressure. The pressure may come from the waistband of the paints that constantly press against the piercing. It may also be an issue with sweating because the hip area covered with pants may not be breathing well. You may want to wear loose clothing to allow the piercing to recover.

Sometimes, you may find that it’s not an issue with moisture or pressure, but something to do with the dermal top and the dermal anchor. What you can do is to allow some little space between the dermal top and anchor and see if the problem resolves or the red bump goes away. 

Dermal Piercing Aftercare

Dermal Piercing Aftercare

Practicing good dermal piercing care will ensure that it heals fast and properly. Dermal piercing aftercare doesn’t only mean cleaning and protecting it, there is more than that. Good hygiene and eating healthy can help with the healing process. You also want to ensure you get enough sleep and refrain from having nicotine which may slow down the ability of the body to heal itself.

Treat a piercing like a surgical wound or a cut from a sharp object like a knife. Refrain from touching the piercing, you may transfer infections into the wound. Make sure that you wash your hands first before you can touch or clean the piercing. An antibacterial soap comes in handy when it comes of washing the hands before you touch the piercing.

When cleaning the piercing itself, don’t use soap because it may delay the healing. Also, don’t wet the wound, it needs to remain dry so that it heals fast. However, you can soak the piercing using sea salt solution or a saline wash. A saline is considered a natural healer and the body releases it, this means the body will tolerate it. An antiseptic may help with cleaning of the piercing.