Risks of Body Piercing

There are many risks of body piercing. Here are a few red flags to help educate individuals regarding some of the more common dangers of body piercing and how they can be avoided.

Before anything else, make sure you understand what body piercing is, what the dangers of body piercing gone bad are and what the future repercussions of having a body piercing might be. While body piercing has been going on since the beginning of time, today it represents a fad, and fads fade fast.

Warnings Issued by Body Piercing Specialists
Body piercings are personal preferences, just as hairstyle and fashion are personal. In the bigger scheme of things, however, the most a bad hairstyle or horrendous clothing selection will incur is a shake of the head or a frown from passers by. Do hairstylists or clothing designers issue warning signs along with their products? If they do, it's a rarity. But the fact that body-piercing specialists do issue warnings with their products should be your first red flag. You need to be aware. There are many dangers associated with body piercing. It's no joke-the dangers of body piercing are real.

The dangers of body piercing range from mild to serious, with some complications even ending in death. In 2006 a 17-year-old girl died from complications incurred when she had her breast pierced in a private parlor. According to the investigation, the piercing parlor did conform to industry standards. After investigation, Dr. Jim Hutchinson, an expert in microbiology at Memorial University's Faculty of Medicine, concluded that death due to a dangerous body piercing infection was a rare occurrence. However, he noted, as with anything else, there are no guarantees.

Another real danger of body piercings is that many children get body piercings without their parents' consent. If the piercing is in a "private" location on their body, Mom and Dad need never be aware, or so the child thinks. What does a child do when the piercing becomes infected? If she's afraid to show Mom or scared of what Dad will say, she might never mention it. She might erroneously think she can handle the infection on her own. Unfortunately, she may be wrong.

No Regulations Are Enforced for Body Piercings
At last check, no government standards for body piercing had been either outlined or enforced. Private or public body-piercing parlors follow their own code of ethics. How do you know the setting you choose will be one where a conscientious body-piercing specialist has taken up residence? Perhaps the owner is conscientious but the workers are not, or vice-versa. Perhaps they reuse needles and don't sterilize equipment.

Are you willing to risk your life just so you can boast about a belly piercing or so your teen can get his or her eyebrow pierced? In this case the risk far outweighs the benefit. If you're concerned about the safety of your child, look into the dangers of body piercings and simply don't allow your child to get a body piercing. Parent by example. At the very least, wait until there are government standards that all piercing parlors must follow. For information regarding which states allow or do not allow body piercings and tattoos on minors, check the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Dangers of Body Piercings

  • Infection
  • Disease
  • Allergic reaction
  • Injury
  • Scarring

Infection and How to Prevent It
Infection can set in every time a wound occurs, and body piercings are wounds. The type of infection or severity of an infection also can correlate with the area of the body that is pierced. Piercings to moist areas of the body, such as the oral cavity, are most prone to infection. It is estimated that one in every five piercings ends up infected.

The dangers of body piercings rise when facilities are unclean, technicians do not use facial masks or gloves and tools are not sterilized or are sterilized improperly. Unsterilized equipment can also lead to secondary death from disease.

Preventing infection is as easy as not getting your body pierced. Once you have received a body piercing, the specialist should give you a list of dos and don'ts to follow, including how to spot an infection before it becomes serious and how to take care of your newly acquired body piercing properly.

Infections can be hard to treat. Take into consideration the area of your body that has just been pierced. How hard it is to keep that clean and dry? Can you reach the site easily? Is it possible to keep disinfectant on it? Do you have the proper disinfectant? If you cannot reach the piercing site easily, do you have someone who can help you keep the site disinfected?

Disease from Unsterilized Equipment
Contracting a deadly disease such as HIV or hepatitis is a very real concern. Unclean equipment is the primary cause. Remember to let the technician know what medications you currently take, especially blood thinners, or if you are diabetic, have heart issues or have a weakened immune system, which can all lead to secondary issues after receiving a piercing.

Allergic Reactions
Depending on the type of metal or needles used, allergic reactions can occur. In some cases jewelry made from brass or nickel can cause reactions.

Injuries
The danger of body piercings is heightened when you take into consideration the fact that clothing can get caught on jewelry and tears can occur. Normal healing of a body piercing takes approximately three to four weeks. During that time, the site will be tender, but any red "stain" that develops around the site could indicate infection from a tear, unclean equipment or not keeping the area sanitized.

Scarring
Keloids, or scar tissue, are hard lumps that sometimes appear beneath the skin following any type of body piercing. The danger of body piercing in this case points to disfigurement. Keloids usually can be removed, but they always have a chance of returning. Some people form keloids more easily than others. If you've ever formed a keloid on a scar elsewhere on your body, be smart and don't get a body piercing on your face or in another easily seen area, as it may form thick scar tissue or keloids, leading to disfigurement.

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