Ask Jam Slanders Photo by O'Durgy, Image by Veronica Scars, Skater Trix Ann Riots

Published on October 7th, 2013 | by Jam Slanders

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Photo by O'Durgy, Image by Veronica Scars, Skater Trix Ann Riots

Ask Jam Slanders: A Piercing Question

Dear Jam,

I’m thinking of getting into roller derby and have found my local team. Now I’m practicing daily, but I have my belly, nose, and nipples pierced. Should I take these out for derby? Especially my nipples, as I had a fall today and they’re a little sore–I’m not sure if it’s sore because I stretched it or because it ripped slightly. In your opinion should it be any kind of risk?

Pierced & Cautious

 

Dear Pierced & Cautious,

Given Jam herself isn’t particularly bedazzled and has always played sports under a strict no-accoutrements rule, I asked around and was able to identify three sources: a derby skater with piercings, someone who has been both a professional piercer and a derby skater for several years, and a doctor. Here is the collective sage advice about not getting your nipples ripped off (*gag*):

Derby skater:

“I too started derby with multiple piercings. The piercings I was most concerned about were my facial piercings. I opted to remove mine to avoid them catching and tearing, though I did have teammates who chose to skate with their facial piercings and never had issues.

The piercing I did not consider a huge risk was my nipple ring. I felt that since it was underneath my clothing, it would be safe. I lasted 2 seasons without any complications. This past year though my chest must have gotten hit during practice, because I came home one night to a sore and tender nipple. It appeared to have torn slightly. I still was only mildly concerned; I figured it would heal quickly. Boy, was I wrong. A few days later, my areola was red tender, and my breast was red and inflamed. There was a large amount of pus coming from the tear site. I started sea salt rinses, as per my traditional treatment of piercing issues, but ultimately ended up having to go on antibiotics for MRSA. Thankfully, I caught the infection early and was able to treat it. If this were the only piercing story I had to offer, I would say maybe I am the exception, that it was a fluke. That’s not the case. One of my teammates also got an infection in her nipple ring that required antibiotics. I have also witness another skater’s piercing partially rip when she was hit *just so*. You may skate for years without issues, or you may end up getting hit in just the right way that the piercing does cause an issue. So, be careful. You may consider extra gear like this turtleshell bra.

Quick PSA: Due to the constant bacteria that we are coming into contact with while playing (gross pads, other people who may be carriers), any break in the skin can pose a risk. Any scratch or cut should be covered and cleansed thoroughly after playing to minimize the risk. Piercings or no, we can all do our best to stay infection free.”

 

Professional piercer & derby skater:

“My personal practice: With piercings it is very difficult sometimes.  I tell some of my teammates that they were there before derby and they will be there after.  I personally do not take out any of my piercings, but have started taking more caution with them especially after have two ripped out.  I wear a septum plug instead of a CBR/circular barbell.  With my ears I wear solid plugs a majority of the time to prevent fingers going in and ripping my lobe, which almost happened one game.  As far as the most sensitive of piercings, my Surface Anchors, I tape and cover all of them.

But, a word of warning: Skating with jewelry in is not only a hazard to you but also to your teammates. WORST case scenario, you get one ripped out and bleed through your jersey. Not only is there now blood all over you and possibly other players, but also a piece of metal on the track waiting to get caught in a skate if not found. Not saying that everyone is diseased and/or disgusting, but all blood should be treated the same as if it’s the plague. Because it’s a biohazard, per WFTDA safety practices, you might not get to finish the game unless you have a backup jersey.

Now from a piercer’s perspective, I don’t see many other problems with being athletic and pierced.  Make sure you wear fitted jewelry; nothing that can be hooked onto anything (mainly hair, fingers, jerseys). Dangly navel jewelry, a nose hoop, and CBRs in you nipples probably not the best idea. I would suggest a standard navel ring, a basic stud for the nose, and basic barbells for the nipples.

After practice make sure your piercings are cleaned just like the rest of your body.  Non-iodized sea salt and distilled water is awesome for cleaning sweaty or irritated piercings along with any fragrance free liquid soaps or an antibacterial soap.  You can also purchase H2Ocean which is already mixed for you and in a spray bottle, which is awesome for games and travel.  I am glad that you are not assuming that your nipples are infected but rather just irritated.

It is very easy to get a piercing irritated, but very hard to get them infected.  When a piercing is irritated the best idea is to clean it 2 to 3 times a day with the above solutions and do not remove or touch the affected area/jewelry.

 

Medical doctor:

“In most sports, piercings are OK as long as they can be covered (e.g., with tape or clothing.)  Does this person wear a sports bra? Some sports tape or a band aid underneath could help even more. I don’t take my nose ring out for derby, but I know the first time I get hit in the nose I’m going to wish I did. I don’t take my navel ring out either, but it’s always covered by clothing.

A stretched or torn piercing, though painful, is mostly a cosmetic issue, but it can lead to infection. Bottom line, if they hurt or if you’re worried, take them out, but covering or taping over them can help protect them.”

 

So, there you have it: advice from people far more experienced than Jam.

 

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Jam Slanders

Jam Slanders is here to tell you what to do with your life. She's here to answer your questions about psychological, interpersonal, and social questions and issues related to playing derby, training questions, and other fun stuff (just not how you can get rid of that itchy rash you picked up at your last afterparty). She consults with a broad range of skaters, liquors, and knowledgeable media sources (“Always bet on black!”—Wesley Snipes, Passenger 57) to bring you the answers to all of your derby-related questions. All questions you pose will be completely anonymous, so feel free to come up with your own fun pseudonym or Jam will make one for you. Send your questions to advice@derbylife.com.

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About the Author

Jam Slanders is here to tell you what to do with your life. She's here to answer your questions about psychological, interpersonal, and social questions and issues related to playing derby, training questions, and other fun stuff (just not how you can get rid of that itchy rash you picked up at your last afterparty). She consults with a broad range of skaters, liquors, and knowledgeable media sources (“Always bet on black!”—Wesley Snipes, Passenger 57) to bring you the answers to all of your derby-related questions. All questions you pose will be completely anonymous, so feel free to come up with your own fun pseudonym or Jam will make one for you. Send your questions to advice@derbylife.com.



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