Health Care and Body Piercings

The popularity of getting various body parts pierced has been growing over the past few years, but the concept is as old as humanity itself going back to ancient times. Ever since mankind figured out that it could poke a hole through some physical part of the body, piercings have been seen as a statement of individuality and fashion.

People from many different cultures have pierced their bodies for centuries. If you look in a history book, you will find that Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans decorated their bodies with piercings and tattoos. Many pierced their bodies to show their importance in a group, or because they thought it protected them from evil. Today, we know much more about the risks of body piercing. Body piercing is a serious decision. Before you decide to get a piercing, ask your parents, trusted adults, and friends what they think. More information is available at this site: http://youngwomenshealth.org/2013/08/07/body-piercing/.

In recent modern times the art of body piercing has grown to include more and more unique piercing placements and designs. There are now dozens of piercing styles used on the face, chest, back and other parts of the body. This website shows the various types of body piercings and how to manage and care for them: http://www.almostfamouspiercing.com/body-piercings/.

According to KidsHealth, a body piercing is exactly that — a piercing or puncture made in your body by a needle. After that, a piece of jewelry is inserted into the puncture. The most popular pierced body parts seem to be the ears, the nostrils, and the belly button. Other areas of the body can be pierced but may only be for adults and not children or teens.

If the person performing the piercing provides a safe, clean, and professional environment, this is what you should expect from getting a body part pierced:

·         The area you've chosen to be pierced (except for the tongue) is cleaned with a germicidal soap (a soap that kills disease-causing bacteria and microorganisms).
·         Your skin is then punctured with a very sharp, clean needle.
·         The piece of jewelry, which has already been sterilized, is attached to the area.
·         The person performing the piercing disposes of the needle in a special container so that there is no risk of the needle or blood touching someone else.
·         The pierced area is cleaned.
·         The person performing the piercing checks and adjusts the jewelry.
·         The person performing the piercing gives you instructions on how to make sure your new piercing heals correctly and what to do if there is a problem.

More details on this topic are found at this site: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/body-piercing-safe.html.

The piercing disrupts the protective barrier that normally prevents bacteria from entering, according to US News & World Report, and in the worst-case scenario, a staph infection on the skin or inside the nose develops. People who have had major surgery, diabetes or HIV are at a higher risk of infection. Plus, people who have undergone nose surgery should wait at least six months before considering a nose piercing, while those prone to sinus infections should probably not do it at all.

The body treats jewelry in the body like a foreign object, so a little bit of swelling, numbness, redness or tenderness is common. To stave off a potential infection, piercers recommend you clean the piercing site with warm salt water as well as an antimicrobial soap. You should also maintain a hygienic environment, so use paper products to pat dry your piercing as opposed to towels, which harbor bacteria. For the same reason, you should change your bedding regularly and wear clean clothes.

Also, keep yourself healthy. Even though your piercing might seem as harmless as a splinter, it’s a permanent fixture your body is taking in, so you should boost your immune system by eating a good diet and getting plenty of rest – especially during the first few months following your piercing. If an infection does develop, you can most likely use a topical antibiotic to treat it. More details on this subject are located at this site: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2014/10/28/how-to-care-for-body-piercings.

Additionally, according to the AAFP, American Association of Family Physicians, the trend of body piercing at sites other than the earlobe has grown in popularity in the past decade. The tongue, lips, nose, eyebrows, nipples, navel, and genitals may be pierced. Complications of body piercing include local and systemic infections, poor cosmesis, and foreign body rejection. Swelling and tooth fracture are common problems after tongue piercing.

Minor infections, allergic contact dermatitis, keloid formation, and traumatic tearing may occur after piercing of the earlobe. “High” ear piercing through the ear cartilage is associated with more serious infections and disfigurement. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are advised for treatment of auricular perichondritis because of their antipseudomonal activity. Many complications from piercing are body-site–specific or related to the piercing technique used.

Navel, nipple, and genital piercings often have prolonged healing times. Family physicians should be prepared to address complications of body piercing and provide accurate information to patients. More information on the hazards of body piercings is located here: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2005/1115/p2029.html.

There are also location-specific risks with body piercings, according to HealthLine. A tongue piercing can cause damage to your teeth and cause you to have difficulty speaking. Additionally, if your tongue swells after getting the piercing, swelling can block your airway making it harder to breathe. A genital piercing can cause painful sex and urination. The risk of complications is higher if you have other medical conditions like:

·         Diabetes.
·         Allergies, especially if you’ve ever had a reaction that caused breaking out in red bumps, swelling of the throat, or difficulty breathing.
·         Skin disorders, such as eczema or psoriasis.
·         A weak immune system.

Talk to a doctor before getting a piercing if you suffer from any these conditions. More details on this subject can be seen at this site: http://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care-tattoos-piercings#healthrisks2.

Making a decision about the location of the piercing on the body, according to the California State University Long Beach, should be based on the following questions to ask yourself:

·         Why am I doing this?
·         What does it mean to me?
·         How will I feel if people see my piercing?
·         How long am I willing to wait for it to heal? Healing times vary depending on the body location.
·         How much am I willing to spend on a quality piercing? Remember that good piercings are not cheap and cheap piercings are not good!

So if you still want to get a piercing, you have to make some important choices. First, choose your piercer carefully by getting recommendations from friends and other people you trust. Look at the piercers portfolios and watch them work. Meet with the piercer before you decide to find out if you like their work, their personality, price and professionalism. Find out if the piercer has been properly trained and uses hygienic procedures. A piercer should NEVER use a gun for piercing!

Here are some questions to ask the piercer before making the decision:
·         Does the piercer wear gloves?
·         Does the piercer use sterile, non-disposable equipment?
·         Does the piercer remove needles from the packaging in front of the client?
·         Does the piercer sterilize the station between clients?
·         Are they recognized by the Association for Professional Piercers (APP)?
·         Do they have a permit from the local Health Department to operate?

The APP is the industry standard for piercers. They set the standards for piercing studios and abide by all cleanliness guidelines and federal regulations. If the salon has an APP license, then you can have a greater level of confidence about hygienic practices.. However, it is important to note that the APP license expires. You should also look to see if the studio has a permit from the public health department. A significant amount of additional information about body piercing that you should strongly consider is available at this website: http://web.csulb.edu/divisions/students/hrc/health_topics/BodyPiercing.htm.

Body piercings, although considered by many to be fashionable or personal taste, can have associated risks beyond the nature of the piercing itself, and your health care could be put at risk if there are complications. Before you take the plunge to poke a hole in anything that really doesn’t need it, familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of body piercing. Talk with your doctor if you have any particular physical or medical issues that may be compromised if you get this procedure done anywhere on your body. It’s always safe to be prepared and knowledgeable.

Until next time.

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