To continue with our previous post on materials used for body jewelry, we will now introduce plastics and glass.

 

Glass:

Glass is a common piercing material which has been used for thousands of years. For example, earplugs made of glass have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. If correctly shaped and manufactured, glass can be an functional material: comfortable to wear, tough, and safe for the body. However, cheaper glass beads that are not covered in a metal shell can easily break into shards. If you drop glass jewelry on the floor, you probably won’t be able to use it again. Also if you have a cheap bead in a tongue piercing and accidentally chew on it, it can break into tiny shards and cause lacerations. It is possible to sterilize glass in a steam-autoclave but the heat may cause cracking in cheaper products.

 

PTFE:

PTFE or Teflon was invented in 1938 and is can be refined for use in the medical industry for prolonged contact with skin. Refined PTFE can be made biocompatible.  It is a lightweight plastic, it’s bendable, autoclaveable, not visible with X-Rays, not magnetic, and very stable. It is suited for implants and piercings, especially if some flexibility of the material is desired. PTFE is commonly used as a retainer.

 

Acrylic:

Acrylic, sold as Plexiglas or any of a variety of names, is a transparent plastic, in piercing mostly used for plugs and tapers.Due to the material’s smoothness, it has been used for stretching. Many overenthusiastic wearers have damaged their holes with acrylic tapers.

It is not a good material for damaged or new piercings and can not be heat sterilized by autoclave as it can melt or discolor. It is also a fragile material and can easily crack, craze or shard if dropped. Jewelry made of acrylic has a tendency to collect body fluids and skin parts in tiny pores and fissures. The Association of Professional Piercers suggests that it may only be used for temporary wear in healed piercings.

Acrylic can be a chemical irritant or allergen, resulting in Acrylic monomer dermatitis from the decomposition of methyl methacrylate.