Unlike nose piercing, which was first recorded in the Middle East approximately 4,000 years ago, eyebrow piercing is relatively modern. This style of piercing appears to have become popular over the last few decades, with early instances seen in the punk movement of the 1970s. A possible reason this type of piercing hasn’t been around for a long time is that it can be very problematic and difficult to heal.
Eyebrows were usually pierced at an angle (35 degrees) from the outside corner of the eye. The reason this piercing is done at an angle is so that it sits better on the face. If it is done vertically, the ring sticks out and will never lie flat. Piercing that is slanted inwards tend to make the ring lay flat.
It has become more common to have piercing placed anywhere along the eyebrow ridge ‘ from directly above the eye to the edge of the eyebrow. Another popular variation is to have multiple eyebrow piercing. However, it is dangerous to pierce the eyebrow further in than directly above the eye. The possibility of injuring one of the three major supra-orbital nerves becomes much greater and could lead to permanent nerve damage in the eye.
The depth of the piercing is determined with regards to how much tissue is available to support the piercing. Most eyebrow piercing is usually between 1/4″ and 3/8″ wide. To avoid damaging the nerves beneath the eyebrow the piercing is not made much deeper.
Because the brow is usually relatively flat, eyebrow piercing has a greater tendency than other piercing to migrate or be rejected by the body. If the brow is completely flat and cannot be easily pinched, the tension of the skin creates pressure on the jewelry which may cause the piercing to migrate or even be rejected completely. In some cases the piercing will shift or migrate slightly while healing but will eventually settle. The piercing should not be made excessively deep on the assumption that it will migrate into place. Always ask your piercer for advice before getting any piercing. They have more experience and can tell you how difficult or easy the piercing will be to maintain.
As with most initial piercing, the recommended jewelry for an eyebrow is a captive bead ring. The reason for this is that the jewelry needs to be easily movable in order to clean and heal the piercing. However, some piercers will pierce you with a barbell if you request it. Keep in mind that it may affect how your piercing heals and you will need to devote extra time and care to it.
jewelry which is too thin is more easily rejected by the body and more likely to tear the piercing if the jewelry is accidentally pulled. jewelry which is too heavy for the amount of tissue available can cause the piercing to migrate or reject.
- Captive bead rings in 18 to 14 gauge and 3/8″ to 7/16″ in diameter.
The diameter should be at least 1/8″ wider than width of the piercing. No more than 1/4 of the ring should be through the piercing. A ring which is too small in diameter will often cause the piercing to migrate or scar.
- Straight or curved barbells in 18 to 14 gauge and 5/16″ to 7/16″ in length.
The barbell should be at least 1/16″ longer than the width of the piercing. Straight barbells should not be used if the brow is very flat. The balls will create pressure against the skin behind them which often causes the piercing to migrate forward. A curved barbell will eliminate pressure between the barbell balls and the skin.
Eyebrow retainers should not be worn in new piercing because they are not secure.
Always ask your piercer the gauge and diameter of the ring he pierced you with. Having this information will facilitate changing or replacing your jewelry later. Once the piercing has gone through its initial 5-6 week healing period, the jewelry can be changed.
The piercing will take approximately 2 to 4 months to heal. As with any piercing, different people take different amounts of time to heal. However, the better you care for your piercing, the quicker it will heal. Compared to other piercing, eyebrow piercing requires a little more extra care and attention. The reason for this is that the skin where the piercing is being done is very thin, contains many hair follicles, and does not have much supporting tissue underneath. They eyebrows’ anatomical purpose is to prevent dirt from falling into the eyes. Therefore the likelihood of dirt getting into the piercing increases. This piercing also gets knocked around a lot when you sleep, and movement hampers the healing process.
Sometimes, eyebrow piercing results in migration or rejection. Migration means that the body is slowly forcing the jewelry out, like it does a foreign object such as a splinter. The jewelry may move from its original location to another. The amount of skin taken by the initial piercing will decrease until the jewelry eventually grows out altogether. It doesn’t matter how well the piercing is done initially, migration can still occur. If migration or rejection begins to happen, call or see your piercer. He may have a way to save the piercing.
As mentioned above, eyebrow piercing is more infection-prone than other piercing, as dirt, movement, and hair follicles can irritate and infect the piercing. Cleaning and properly following aftercare instructions will help to prevent infections. However, if an infection does occur, you must handle it quickly since infections to this piercing can become bad quickly. The infection may even produce a large cyst. It may also make the piercing very red and cause the piercing to discharge.
If you do get an infection, visit your piercer immediately. He will be able to give you additional advice on how to treat and care for the wound.
The leading cause of infection for any piercing is the improper handling of it or playing around with it. You should only touch your piercing with clean hands, and only when you are cleaning it.
The following instructions will help you care for and maintain your piercing.
- You will need an antibacterial soap, such as Dial and/or sea salt.
- Your piercing should be cleaned thoroughly once day every day for the entire healing time. Prepare the area for cleansing by removing any dried secretions. This is easily accomplished by soaking the piercing in warm water for 1 to 2 minutes. When the crust has softened, use a Q-tip to gently remove the matter. Never pick at the crust with your fingernails.
- Work a small amount of soap with water and apply to the piercing. Gently rotate the jewelry back and forth through the piercing several times making sure the soap is entering the piercing. Allow the soap to remain in the piercing for two to three minutes. Keep all other soaps, shampoo, and conditioner from entering the piercing. Remember, the soap does not have to lather to be effective.
- Rinse the area thoroughly under running water, while rotating the jewelry back and forth several times to remove ALL traces of the cleanser. Never put any kind of soap on your piercing without rinsing it off.
- Gently pat the area dry with a Kleenex or other disposable paper product. Use a Q-tip to dry difficult to reach areas.
- Clean the piercing no more than once a day. Cleaning more frequently may damage the delicate skin cells, and cleaning less frequently may invite an infection. When you’re not cleaning your new piercing leave it alone.
- Mild salt water soaks are strongly suggested as a supplement to your once a day cleaning. Do this once or twice a day. Dissolve 1/4 teaspoon sea salt into 8 ounces of warm distilled water in a clean cup. Invert the cup over the piercing to form a vacuum. Soak the piercing for 10-15 minutes. Rinse or splash the salt from your piercing. If any whitish material remains, remove it with a clean Q-Tip. Do not rotate the jewelry. Many above the neck piercing are difficult to soak. In this case a warm compress of paper towels or gauze should be sufficient.
- Leave your jewelry in the piercing for the first 6 months, or the hole will close up.
- If you go to a club or party, be aware of people trying to touch or tug at your jewelry, especially friends who haven’t seen the new piercing. Warn people that it is still healing and that you would appreciate if they did not touch it.
- This one is difficult, but try to sleep on opposite side from your piercing. This will reduce movement of the ring any unnecessary friction you may encounter.