First off, you should only change body jewelry if your piercing is pretty well healed. The new body jewelry should be the same gauge as the original jewelry unless you are stretching your piercing (for more information, see our Stretching Guide). If the new jewelry is of a thinner gauge than the piercing will shrink and the piercing will have to be stretched back up to wear your original body jewelry. With some piercings the body jewelry must be of a certain design to be comfortable.
You will have an easier time inserting your new body jewelry if you lubricate the piercing and the new piece of jewelry using a water-based lubricant or anti-microbial soap (we recommend Satin Soap). Place a small amount of lubricant onto the existing body jewelry and rotate the jewelry to lubricate the piercing. Captive rings should be opened before lubricating the jewelry.
Externally threaded body jewelry should be heavily lubricated to reduce the risk of damaging the piercing during insertion. The threads can get caught on the interior of the piercing, making insertion difficult and painful. Threaded body jewelry is most securely tightened using rubber gloves, a tissue, or gauze to grip the balls. Never use pliers to tighten balls. In the case of internally threaded jewelry, using pliers can strip the threads from the ball.
Jewelry designed for ear piercings is not appropriate for wear in body piercings. Ear jewelry is designed to fit the thickness of the average earlobe; most body piercings are wider than the thickness of the earlobe. Ear jewelry is too thin to be safely worn in body piercings. Rings and hoops designed for ear piercings often have hinges, hooked ends or overlapping hollow tubes with rough edges which easily irritate the piercing. Ear piercing studs are difficult to clean. The butterfly clip backing can become clogged with discharge, dirt, and bacteria. Ear jewelry is usually made of silver or of a lesser grade of steel or is plated, all unsuitable materials for wear in body piercings.
Sewing needles and safety pins are made of a lesser grade of steel and are usually nickel-plated. Wearing sewing needles and safety pins can cause a severe allergic reaction and lifelong sensitivity to nickel.
Special thanks to Anne Greenblatt for compiling the rec.arts.bodyart FAQ from which much of this information was obtained. Greenblatt, Anne (1999) "rec.arts.bodyart Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)" Usenet rec.arts.bodyart, available via anaonymous FTP: rtfm.mit.edu:/pub/faqs/bodyart