Cocobolo Wood Jewelry Reaction

Speaking of wooden jewelry, I’d like to remind you (care of Peter Mahoney) that it’s important to know what kind of wood you’re wearing, how poisonous it is (many woods are on one level or another), and how allergic you are to it. These pictures are of Peter’s 1 1/4″ lobes after a reaction with cocobolo.

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

38 thoughts on “Cocobolo Wood Jewelry Reaction

  1. I couldn’t agree more.There are a HUGE number of plugs being made out of woods that should definitely not be worn in piercings. I think the real benchmark for safety standards in wood is Organic Jewelry (Erica Skadsen)- she knows her stuff.

  2. I experienced the same reaction to bamboo plugs. Who knew a grass allergy would pop up in the form of bamboo?

  3. Mmmm, fruit loops…

    Okay, probably poor taste – but doesn’t it kind of look like an orange or red fruit loop??

  4. Ha, I’m on modblog. :)

    First thing’s first. It was super gross. I haven’t had Froot Loops in years, but I’m pretty sure after the similarities pointed out, it’ll be far longer before I ever consider them again!

    I can plead ignorance up and down til I’m blue in the face, but the important part of all of this, is that I listened to my body(albeit a bit later than I would’ve prefered). Also, I hauled arse to the doctor, got some antibiotics, and kept hopeful.

    To answer Poppie’s question, I had them in for about a week. It seemed to sneak up on me, however in hindsight, I should’ve taken note when I began to notice a build-up of discharge on the plugs when I’d take them out(in all the time stretching my ears, I never had a problem with any sort of build-up).

    The bright side of all of this is, my ears have bounced back, and are healthier than ever! I’m back to just under 1″, with no pain or struggle whatsoever. I just know now to read up on the toxicity of the wood I’m considering, or simply to stick to woods I love(i.e. ebony — my birthday is coming up! j/k)

  5. Monsternips – Bamboo and grass belong to the same family. Which is why you got a reaction.

  6. ears were like that as well after wearing wooden spirals for about 3 hours, but not as bad…I had to get lori (spikesandstuds) to put some steel things in my ears and i used heaps of neem oil and teatree oil on them & took some telfast – i formed this massive rash down the side of my neck. so gross. i’ve just recovered from it pretty much. wasn’t so much sore as it was itchy.

  7. Julien, it’s similar to people with latex alergies not being able to eat avacado, certain nuts, rootbeer, ect. Or people who are illergic to dogs or cats. Some people only have only a mild alergy, say to latex or a certain dog or simply grass, and some people’s alergies are far worse, reacting to many things with similar protean makeups.

  8. OH MY! my ear did that when i tried to stretch with kaos plugs:pyrex and ebony saved my dear ears.

  9. I had a bit of an incident with Kaos tunnels a couple of months ago…

    A really slow and safe stretch to around 20mm with no issues, using wood (! ;)) plugs wrapped in teflon tape…Left them at that size for a fair few weeks and popped in a pair of Kaos eyelets.

    Everything was fine and dandy for weeks…No discharge, no buildup, no redness, warmth, swelling,…Absofuckinglutely fandabidoze.

    Then one night I pulled my T shirt off and caught them both….They both instantly split around the circumference of the lobe and started bleeding heavily…Blood down my neck and chest-styles.

    Dropped back to 18mm acrylic to ease the pressure and they closed up and healed within 4 or 5 days…Left them for a long, long time to thicken up before stretching back up.

    Weirdness…Guess they must have just been a bit ‘tacky’ :/


  10. oh peters poor lobbies.
    i hope to god that doesnt happen to me.

  11. “Blim: explain that, I don’t get it. So what if it’s related to grass”

    Bamboo, being the Poaceae family, is actually a type of grass – explaining the allergic reaction.

  12. they look like my ears did after a similar experience with kaos plugs. unlike most kaos nightmare stories i’ve heard, i was not using my plugs to stretch. i had 5/8″ lobes and 5/8″ kaos plugs. virtually overnight my ears became huge and red. when i removed the plugs (the worst pain i’ve ever experienced, might i add) the entire circumference of both holes had split.

    so uncool.

    i now have fucked up looking slits in my ears. still toying with the idea as to whether i should start stretching again.

  13. Chris – because the medical silicone that Kaos jewelry is molded from is hydrophilic. It sucks the moisture out of your ears. Just a fact of life. You can see this effect with other medical grade silicones as well, particularly with implants.

    Personally I’ve had great success not only with wearing Kaos but stretching with it as well. I just lay down a thick coat of my preferred oil (I like Onetribe’s stuff!) on my Kaos stuff once in a while to keep it fed and happy.

  14. I am fine with wearing kaos normally – wore it when I was at smaller sizes (10 and 12mm) with no issues. Now I’m bigger, I just moisturise them with normal, perfume-free moisturiser once every couple of days. Keeps them nice and healthy :)


  15. the first time i tried stretching with kaos my ears split around the circumference as well, got horribly infected. now i stretch with kaos for like 2 days before slipping in glass to finish healing, and it works great.
    i find myself dried out fast with woods but, jesus, nothing like that. once some bamboo got stuck to the lobes and i tore off skin taking them out. i’m glad to hear your ears are healing ok, it sucks to think you are going to lose something you’ve put that much time and money into.

  16. I usually put a few turns of teflon tape on my silicone eyelets even if I’m not stretching, just because it reduces that drying effect substantially.

  17. oh my god that picture wants to make me take mine out!!! im so freaked out incase it happens to me now ::( how ur earsys r okay in future

  18. actually some people are alergenic to even surgical sainless steel… my grandma is alergic to all earings (she tried everything except organics and teflon of course since shes pierced at a 20g.

  19. I wish I had seen this 3 weeks ago. I’m dealing with the aftermath of a cocobolo reaction right now myself.

    I had heard it was an irritant but I have no allergies and thought I would be fine.

    Mine didn’t look anything like Peter’s (they were only 1/2″) but closed in entirely 30 seconds after I removed the plugs. It came up from nowhere too, they were fine for over a week before this happened.

    Now I’m down to 8mm, they’re still itchy but I’m oiling constantly and trying to nurse them back to health.

    Does anyone have any additional tips? Are antibiotics for this particular reaction recommended?

  20. Hello! I’ve had my ears stretched at a 0g for years. Recently I bought some wood tunnels on a trip to Seattle almost a month ago. I had worn them just about every day since I got them with no issues, taking them out only for showering. Yesterday morning I took them out to shower and rushed out of the house for work without them… as the day went on they became very swollen, red, itchy, hard, and warm to the touch. Though my ears hardly look anything like the picture above, they are still very swollen, itchy, and starting to peal this morning.

    I was unware of allergies and dangers of wood body jewelery, and was not informed by the seller; most likely because I did not purchace these from a Tattoo / Piercing shop. Is there a way to tell what kind of wood they are made out of just by looking at them?

    Is there anything I can do to help reduce the swelling and dryness. Any Oils? or if seasalt sokes would be appropriate. Any information would be great.


  21. BrokenAutumn, go straight to a doctor!

    I tried self-treating mine for a week (oils, salt soaks and the like) but they got much worse and the infection (which you have as well) started working it’s way upwards. I’m now on the strongest antibiotic available to me and it’s still not certain what’s going to happen. If the infection gets into my cartilage then according to the doctor “it could be serious.”

    I don’t know if that means removal, or whatever else, but I’m worried and you should be too. I didn’t treat this seriously enough at the very early stage that you describe.

    Please go to a doctor as soon as possible.

  22. Hi BrokenAutumn –
    The same thing happened to my ears about 3 weeks ago. I took the rosewood plugs out right when I started to see a bumpy itchy rash behind my lobes about 1-1.5 weeks after I put them in. Thankfully mine nursed back to good health with lots of polysporin, and bactirycin ointments. I put steel tunnels in to make sure the holes didn’t close up (I was only at an 8g), and after about 2 weeks of lots of love and care my ears are a-ok.
    Needless to say I believe I had an allergic reaction to something in the wood (or whatever was used to seal it) since my ears were still in the healing phase, coupled with a couple times I forgot to take them out when I showered.
    Good luck :)

  23. This has happened to me before when I had a pair of wooden plugs at a size 1 1/4. And I just recently got a another pair in a size 1″ because my ears have been healed for a while at that size, so I wore them last night and switched them out with something non wood for bed and they swelled in the middle of the night. I love the wood plugs, but is there anyway you can stop your ears from getting that way. Maybe tape a layer of electrical tape on the plug where your ear lobe will only be touching? idk?…
    Any advice?

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