Dermal piercings are all the rage, but should you get one? What's involved in getting a dermal piercing? Can you get microdermals placed anywhere on your body? What type of jewelry is worn in dermal piercings? Read on to have all of your dermal piercing questions answered!
Dermal Piercings Defined
Dermal piercings--also known as microdermal piercings or micro dermal piercings--are small, single-point piercings anchored just below the surface of the skin. To create a dermal piercing, a piercer will typically use a dermal punch to remove a small circle of skin. A tiny dermal anchor is then inserted using dermal anchor forceps or a threaded taper.
Many dermal anchors have a "foot" that may have 1-3 small holes in it so that tissue can grow up and around the anchor as the piercing heals, securing the anchor in place over time. There's also a tinier, circular-base option called a skin anchor or skin diver, which is sometimes a better fit for less meaty areas, like on the face or back of the neck. Like traditional footed dermal anchors, some skin anchors have a solid base while others have holes in them to allow tissue to grow up through and around the anchor. As an alternative to two-piece dermal anchors with interchangeable dermal tops, there are also all-in-one skin anchors available that have decorative tops permanently attached to their bases.
If a piercer has used a threaded taper to insert a traditional dermal anchor that accommodates interchangeable dermal tops, s/he will then remove the taper and screw a jeweled or other decorative top into the base. Some piercers prefer to use forceps to insert a dermal anchor with the decorative top already attached to the base, to avoid causing their client any further discomfort by screwing the top on after inserting the dermal anchor. Special dermal piercing forceps are also used to place all-in-one skin anchors.
Watch the video below to see a dermal anchor being inserted by Painful Pleasures-sponsored piercing artist Jason Coale:
Where Dermals Can Be Placed on the Body
Dermal piercings can be placed nearly anywhere on the body. Several popular options include placing dermals on the face, back and hips. A face dermal piercing can be placed below the eye, on the temple, on the cheek, or even on the forehead, possibly in a "third eye" position as shown in the image to the left (piercing by Russian body modification artist Arseniy Andersson). The more popular back dermal piercings may involve placing dermals anywhere from the the lower back up to the shoulders and neck. Hip dermal piercings are often done at angles over the pelvis. These aren't the only spots where dermals can be placed, either. You can insert a dermal anchor on a finger, toe, ankle, wrist, forearm, chest, or just about anywhere else on your body where there's enough meat to remove a small circle of tissue.
At the time you get a microdermal piercing, a small titanium or surgical steel anchor is inserted below the surface of your skin. Unless it's an all-in-1 skin anchor with a fixed top, the dermal anchor is capped with a relatively flat dermal top that may be jeweled or have another decorative design, like a flathead screw-shaped dermal top. It's important to wear a flat dermal top while your piercing is healing to minimize the risk of it getting snagged, caught on your clothes and displaced, or ripped out completely.
Once your piercing is fully healed--meaning the tissue below the surface of your skin has grown through and around the dermal anchor, securing it in place--you can change your dermal top to nearly any compatible (typically 12g or 14g) internally-threaded top. Here are some examples of the dermal top styles available:
Sometimes it can be hard to change a dermal top by hand, because the top is flush with the surface of your skin. The first time you change your dermal top, you may want to have your piercer help you. Alternatively, you can use a tool like The World's Thinnest Microdermal Anchor Holder Tool shown to the left to hold your dermal anchor in place while you unscrew the top. Another option is to get a magnetic top like the one shown above inserted as your starter jewelry, so that you can easily swap different-colored magnetic tops in and out on your own once your dermal piercing is fully healed.
Painful Pleasures offers one of the largest dermal selections available online, so you can find the perfect dermal jewelry to suit your style. Choose from a wide variety of dermal anchors, titanium, surgical steel, gold, and silver dermal tops, jeweled dermal tops, tops in unique styles, and more in our Dermal Jewelry section.
If you decide to take the plunge and get a dermal piercing, it's incredibly important to perform vigilant dermal piercing aftercare to reduce the chances of your body rejecting the dermal anchor. Since dermals are surface piercings, they're highly prone to rejection. However, if you take good care of your dermal piercing, clean it thoroughly every day, spritz it several times daily with a product like Recovery Piercing Aftercare Spray, protect your dermal piercing as best you can, and touch it as little as possible, there's a good chance it will heal well and stay with you for many years to come.
Two to three times a day, you should apply a sea salt solution-soaked cotton ball to your dermal piercing to fully saturate it with soothing, healing saline. You can either make your own solution by mixing 1/4 tsp. sea salt into 1 cup of sterile water or apply a cotton ball soaked with a store-bought aftercare spray like Recovery or H2Ocean. You might consider adding a couple drops of tea tree oil to your solution to enhance your piercing aftercare regime. Tea tree oil has natural antiseptic and moisturizing properties that can help your dermal piercing heal better. Also mist your piercing with aftercare spray several times a day in between your full soaks.
Never touch your dermal piercing directly unless you've just washed your hands with antibacterial soap or you're wearing gloves. Ideally, you should touch it as little as possible, particularly during the early stages of the healing process. It can take anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months for a dermal piercing to heal fully, depending on the person and what issues, if any, they encounter during the healing process.
If "crusties" form around your dermal piercing, don't worry. That's just dried lymph, and it's normal for the body to excrete lymph when healing any wound. Lymph is a mostly clear fluid that dries to a whitish crust, called "crusties" when they form around a new piercing. To remove crusties, simply saturate a cotton ball with saline solution, and then press the wet cotton ball gently against your piercing to soften the crusties. Once they've softened up, you can wipe them away with a clean tissue. Never pick at crusties or move your jewelry to loosen them.
If your new dermal piercing is somewhere on your body that clothes normally cover, be sure to wear breathable, loose-fitting clothing as much as possible during the early stages of the healing process. If your piercing is exposed and you need to periodically cover it to protect it--for instance, before playing a sport or at night, so you don't rub a facial dermal piercing against your pillow--you can cover it with a small, round band-aid. Just don't keep it covered for prolonged periods of time. A piercing is a wound, and wounds need as much fresh air as possible to heal properly.
Don't try to change your dermal top until your piercing is fully healed, and do your best to keep your health up in general. Eat well, get lots of sleep, avoid alcohol and nicotine (which slows down the body's ability to heal), be hygienic, and your piercing should heal well with time.
Additional Microdermal Tips
To learn more about dermal piercings, check out our Dermal Piercing & Surface Piercing FAQs. If you'd like to see dermal piercing pictures, visit the Dermal/Microdermal Piercings section of our photo gallery. If you have additional questions about the dermal piercing process, you can also post in our forum.