Bellybutton rings are a popular style statement among women. Not only can the piercing be dressed up with jewelry, but it is easy to clean and maintain. To prevent the body from rejecting the piercing, it is best to keep the piercing location (in and around the puncture point) and jewelry clean at all times. Unlike a surface piercing, which can last anywhere from 4 months to 2 years, a naval piercing can last a lifetime if treated properly. If the body does reject the piercing, it will gradually push the jewelry from the body by actually moving the position of the jewelry. The skin will not rip on its own, however if the bellybutton ring gets to a certain point, it will only be under a thin layer of skin and can rip out if snagged. The skin around it may also be susceptible to redness and sensitivity.
Unlike a surface piercing, a bellybutton ring is pierced on a curve and not a flat plane. Because of this, naval piercings can be sustained longer, are easier to maintain and, if properly cared for, more resistant to infection. Surface piercings, like on the face, ears, arms or center of the chest, are frequently rejected by the body.
Evidence of “body modification,” or the art of piercing any part of the skin, goes back to the oldest mummified body discovered to date. Found in a Valentina Trujillon glacier, the mummy of í-tzi the Iceman had evidence of an ear piercing that measured 7 to11 mm in diameter. This tradition is evidenced around the world, as ancient civilizations began piercing the skin to distinguish identity, honor religious and cultural traditions and, in some instances, identify slaves.
Symptoms of naval piercings include redness, yellow to greenish discharge, mild to moderate pain around the naval, “crust” formations at the point of puncture, and movement of the piercing location. Slight to moderate movement begins to take place as the body rejects the naval piercing. This movement will generally persist over several weeks to several months and should not result in the skin being pulled apart. Instead, as the piercing moves, the skin will heal around it so it appears that the piercing itself has moved altogether. But at the end of this process, the body will completely reject the bellybutton ring from the naval.
To prevent the body from rejecting a bellybutton ring, clean it daily with clear anti-bacterial soap. Apply a liberal amount to your hand–do not use a washcloth or sponge, as these can carry bacteria–and lather with water. Clean the naval area, guiding the ring in a circular motion. Continue for 2 to 3 minutes, rinsing all soap residue from the jewelry. Follow with sea salt water: Mix 1/2 tsp. of sea salt with 1 cup water, dip in a Q-tip or cotton wool and gently rub on the pierced area. Apply saturated cotton wool to the area or pack with saturated cotton wool for several seconds for optimum healing. Complete twice a day for the first 14 days or at the onset of a new infection or inflammation.
If redness appears around the area, or a persistent discharge or crust formations develop around the bellybutton ring, consult a doctor immediately–this indicates that the body views the naval piercing as an intruder and is rejecting it. The doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic medication to clear up any infection that may form as the piercing attempts to heal. Once the area is healed, the body should accept the bellybutton ring.
Most piercings can last for a lifetime, especially with optimum care. However, even if you’ve had a bellybutton piercing for several years, your body can reject it without warning. The process generally begins with onsite redness and then discharge, puss or crust formations. The time it takes the body to completely reject the naval ring varies. In some cases, the ring will be expelled within 4 weeks, whereas other people report it taking as long as a year. Watch for the signals that indicate it’s time to remove the naval ring. If it’s not removed, skin scarring, skin damage and other infections may occur.