Dermals: Taking Care of Microdermals

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Microdermals are beautiful pieces of jewelry. I’ve gotten dermals done nine times (I still have six) and I love them to pieces but there is not a lot of information circulating about them. How do they stay in? How do you get them? How much do they cost? Can you change them? What if they start to reject? Are they irritated? Getting a new piercing can be confusing but luckily, I’m here to teach you all about them so you don’t have to learn the hard way.

Microdermals are small, decorative pieces of jewelry that can be placed virtually anywhere. It’s best to get them in low impact areas because they never fully “heal” (they don’t develop a fistula like more traditional piercings) therefore they can reject at any point, especially if they’re snagged or bumped. Dermals are also semi-permanent because they only have a single entry point and must be removed through small incisions, making them harder to remove in the case of an MRI.

So how does it stay in?

Saint Sabrina’s was my go-to guide when I first began to consider dermals. She describes dermals as a leg and a foot, with the foot being the anchor that stays in your skin. The anchor has holes in it to allow the tissue to grow through it and anchor it down. You can change the jewel after 2 – 3 months by simply unscrewing the top.

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How dermals look

How is it inserted?

Dermals are inserted by either a dermal punch or a needle. I personally prefer needles because my experience with a dermal punch was extremely painful (and I have a high pain threshold). A dermal punch is essentially a tool that “punches” out a piece of tissue but it requires the piercer to be very skilled with it. After the tissue is removed, the jewelry is simply popped into the socket. A needle, on the other hand, is used to make two pockets in the skin then the jewelry is popped into place. Sometimes the jewelry needs to be removed and reinserted (called reseating) so that it sits flush with the skin, meaning it lays flat. If a piercing needs to be reseated, don’t be alarmed when it is a bit more sore than the others. That’s perfectly normal. Dermal piercings are a relatively quick process. The longest part is marking the right placement.

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The top is the needle method and the bottom is a dermal punch.

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The needle is used to make a pocket then the jewelry is popped into place.

How much do they cost?

Dermals typically cost anywhere from $40 to $60 each.

How do I take care of them?

  • Do:
    • Clean them three times a day and once in the shower
    • Only use bar soap (Doesn’t necessarily have to be antibacterial)
    • 5 – 10 minute sea salt soaks (I SWEAR by H2Ocean) OR use saline solutions (contact lense solutions)
      • I use H2Ocean when I have time or when my piercings are irritated/infected and contact solution any other time.
    • Gently dry your piercings with paper towels each time you clean them
    • Use band-aids if you will be sweating (but take them off at night)
    • Clean piercings after a work-out
    • Only touch them if you have clean hands & you are cleaning the piercing
    • Clean off all crusties
    • Wear loose clothing
  • Don’t:
    • Touch them!
    • Use Neosporin, Alcohol, Peroxide, or antibacterial ointment. They are all too harsh for piercings.
    • Swim for a month
    • Get more than three piercings at a time because it is hard for the body to heal multiple piercings, especially in the same location

How long do they take to heal?

Dermals typically take 6 – 10 weeks to heal. Expect them to be tender for the first week and to possibly bleed the first few days if they bled a lot during the piercing process.

Is my dermal rejecting?

Microdermals have a rejection rate of 2% when properly cared for and in the ideal placement. With that being said, 3 of my 9 have rejected. Rejection is when your body recognizes the piercing as a foreign object and literally pushes it out. You know a piercing is rejecting when it’s red, tender, the surrounding skin is flaky and becomes thin, and you can see the bar through the skin. Dermals are more likely to reject if they are bumped, snagged, or not flush with the skin. A quick Google search will show you what rejection looks like but here are a few photos of rejecting microdermals in the order you might see the signs:

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Dermal becomes red

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Stops sitting flush with the skin

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Develops bump as anchor begins to surface

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Skin becomes flaky and anchor is now visible through skin

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Anchor lifts up through skin. You can gently wiggle it out at this point

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Anchor is ready to be removed.

How can I stop my dermal from rejecting?

Once the piercing reaches a certain point in the rejection process (the anchor appearing through the surface), it can’t be reversed. Although piercers can reseat the dermal (take it out and put it right back in), that hardly works long term. At that point it’s best to either gently wiggle the dermal out yourself or go see your piercer to have him/her remove it for you so the scar won’t be as bad. Don’t worry, they leave very small scars. However, if your dermal has not reached that point you can easily save it by giving it a little extra TLC. Make sure you treat it as you would if it were a new piercing, meaning go back to cleaning it three times a day and wearing very loose clothing. I’ve learned that dermals will reject if you don’t keep the crusties off of them so every single time you soak them, make sure you remove the crusties as well. It will also help if you wear a Band-Aid during the day to help push them back down and let them breathe at night.

My dermal rejected!

Don’t worry, you can get it re-pierced in about a month, although you shouldn’t get it pierced over the scar tissue as it is harder to heal piercings and can lead to rejection again. Just keep cleaning it as if it were a new piercing until the wound closes.

Who should remove my dermals?

I highly suggest seeing a skilled piercer for all dermal removals instead of a doctor because doctors tend to not know exactly how to remove them and have more invasive techniques while your piercer on the other hand will either massage it out or make very small incisions if the tissue has already began to connect.

Rejection, Migration, Irritation, or Infection?

The early signs of rejection are also the same signs for irritation, infection, and migration so sometimes it can be pretty difficult to tell them apart. Migration is when the body doesn’t like the placement of a piercing so it moves it to a more comfortable or suitable location. You can tell a piercing is migrating from it being tender, red, and possibly leaving a small line as it travels across the skin. Irritation occurs when a piercing has been bumped, snagged, or rubbed and is typically red and tender for anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Infection occurs when bacteria gets into the piercing (usually from touching it or improper cleaning) and the signs are pus (crusties), redness, itching, and a bump on the pierced area. Do NOT mess with the bumps as that can make it worse. NOTE: a fresh piercing will have crusties for at least the first week. That does NOT mean it is infected but rather it is simply healing. Itching is also a sign of healing so it is important to listen to your body and your piercings.

The top of my microdermal fell off!!!!

Okay, I can’t be the only person to have had this problem. If the top of your microdermal falls off by any chance, just screw it back on tightly and go see your piercer to make sure it’s so tight it won’t fall off again (I haven’t had to tighten mine in two years). However if you don’t have the ball to put back on it, go to your piercer ASAP. I mean faster than the Flash. If you wait, your skin will begin to close over the anchor within hours and that is not at all good. It will be pretty painful and possibly more likely to get infected and reject. If you see your piercer in ample time, he/she will be able to lift the anchor closer to the surface by using a tool that screws into it and then replace the jewel.

The Bottom Line

  • Pros:
    • Beautiful
    • Can be placed virtually anywhere
    • Can be used to create elaborate designs
    • Can accentuate tattoos
    • Are still pretty uncommon in the piercing world
  • Cons:
    • Dermals get sick when your body gets sick. Yes, I mean they get sick. They have a life of their own. Whenever you come down with a cold, your dermals will act up no matter how long you’ve had them. That’s when you give them a little TLC and they’ll be happy again.
    • Rejects if snagged or placed in high impact areas (wrists, collarbones, hips, etc)

I hope my experience with dermals will be able to help you. I am not a piercer, but I love dermals and I want to help you have a good experience with them. Happy piercing!

P.S. make sure your piercer sterilizes all tools and properly marks where you want the dermal to go.

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About Sierra

I'm an accounting major at Texas State University with a passion for all things international. I'm going to learn Russian, Portuguese, Italian, and possibly German one day. I've been speaking Spanish for 8 years and my dream is to one day travel across Latin America. DREAM Act 2015!

Posted on February 23, 2015, in Entertainment and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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