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The Difference Between Internal and External Threads on Body Jewelry

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When buying body jewelry, especially from an online company, you may come across the terms “internally” or “externally” threaded, and wonder what they mean. It’s important that you know the difference, because one is safer and higher quality than the other. Let’s see if you can figure out which is which.

What Are Threads?
Threads exist on body jewelry that has an end ball that screws on and off, like barbells – straight, curved or circular, and labret jewelry. A thread is a spiral ridge that winds around the metal like that on a bolt or the inside of a nut.

Externally threaded body jewelry has the thread on the end of the barbell, and it is placed inside a threaded hole in the ball. This means that when the jewelry is being passed through the piercing, the threads also pass through it, and then the ball is screwed into place. [Illustration]

Internally threaded body jewelry has a threaded hole inside the barbell, and then an external thread protruding from the ball. A smooth barbell passes through the piercing, and then the ball is inserted and screwed into place. [Illustration]

Which is Better?
Which sounds better to you? Would you prefer to have a smooth or threaded barbell pass through a raw, new piercing? But internal versus external jewelry is not just about comfort.

The Association of Professional Piercers (APP) sets the standards to be followed by professional body piercers, and they make their position very clear in regards to threaded jewelry: “Internally threaded jewelry is part of the APP standard for initial piercing jewelry: the part of the jewelry that passes through your skin is smooth, and the threads are on the removable end(s), such as balls, gems, or spikes. Internally threaded jewelry avoids any possibility of scraping your tissue with sharp threads, which is especially important with fresh piercings.”

The APP specifies initial piercings because they are the most susceptible to irritation and infection. Bacteria can reside in the nooks of the threading and come in contact with the raw flesh inside a new piercing hole, causing a whole host of problems. If you have externally threaded body jewelry, it should only be used on well-healed piercings.

But it's More Expensive!
Internally threaded body jewelry does cost more, because it’s more difficult to manufacture. Novelty stores and mall shops can sell body jewelry for less because the quality is much lower, and this type of jewelry should never be used in an unhealed piercing. High quality jewelry from reputable shops (physical or online) will cost you much less in regards to your health, which shouldn’t have a price tag anyway!

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