Body piercings are puncture wounds made in body tissue to allow jewelry to be inserted. Piercings are popular with men, women and children of all age groups, but it is important to be aware that invasive body art can pose health risks.
One of the most common areas of the body for piercings is the earlobe. While all piercings carry some risks, most dermatologists agree, ear piercing is typically safer than piercings performed on other parts of the body. However, gauge earrings which stretch the ear through the insertion of progressively larger plugs or gauges carries greater risk.
When done too quickly, gauging can cause the ear lobe to split and may lead to severe scarring. Large gauge openings also won’t grow back if you decide to remove the jewelry. The only options for disguising the hole are skin colored plugs or plastic surgery.
When infections occur as a result of piercings of the eyebrow, nose, naval, tongue, lip, nipple and external genitalia, they can lead to more serious complications since deeper tissue or cartilage is often involved.
Penetrating the skin with any object carries the risk of infection, and infections due to piercings are common. These infections can usually be treated with topical medications applied directly to the affected skin near the body piercing. Rarely, they can be serious with reports of hepatitis B and C, tetanus, HIV, staphylococcus aureus and even tuberculosis linked to body piercing.
Other complications that can occur as a result of body piercing include prolonged bleeding, scarring, inflammation, abscess at the piercing site, granuloma development, allergic reaction to the jewelry, and nerve damage.
To reduce the risk of complications association with body piercing, it’s important to:
- Ensure an expert performs all piercing. Never pierce yourself or allow a friend to do piercing
- Use only a licensed piercing facility that follows all health laws and safety recommendations
- Make sure all equipment is adequately cleaned and sterilized between clients
- Protect fragile tissue from crushing injury by using a piercing gun only on earlobes and a sterile, hollow needle for other body parts
Ask your dermatologist for advice on finding a safe piercing facility. If you experience complications after body piercing, schedule an appointment at a dermatology clinic for proper treatment.