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Body Piercing

Body Piercing: Is it Safe?

Body piercing was once considered the stigmata of deviant youth. However, within the last several years, the popularity of piercing has increased. A 2001 survey of an undergraduate campus revealed that 51% of its students had a body piercing. This influence is reflected in pop culture’s adornment of multiple highly visible piercings. However, despite this recent acceptance, there are still risks associated with body piercing that you should know.

To begin with, all piercings are at risk for infection. Fortunately, with proper sterilization techniques, the risk of viral infection, such as hepatitis or HIV, is very low especially if disposable instruments are used. However, a study in the state of Washington did demonstrate that individuals with hepatitis were more likely to have had their ears pierced. Even with sterile methods, a bacterial infection can occur. Areas such as the mouth, where a large amount of bacteria normally reside, are at particular risk.

The ear lobe has a long tradition as a safe and common area to be pierced. However, piercing the upper ear is a much different story. The ear lobe is soft and comprised of fat, where as the upper ear contains strong, hard structural cartilage. A piercing gun, which is forceful and difficult to sterilize can be especially destructive to the upper ear. If the upper ear cartilage is infected as a result of the piercing, permanent damage and disfiguring collapse of the ear can occur.

Lip and tongue piercing are also relatively common piercing, seen in stars such as Madonna and Christina Aguilerra. Lip and tongue piercing have a much higher rate of infection due to the fact that they are bathed in bacteria from the mouth. In very rare instance, this infection can even become deadly. Tongue and lip piercing can also lead to gum recession, chipped teeth, and speech impediments.

Navel, nipple and genital piercing main risk is infection, which can occur with any piercing. Nipple piercing may interfere with breast-feeding, due to the scarring of the lactation ducts with infection. Genital piercing may cause a number of complications, including irreversible scarring and urinary tract infections.

More information regarding piercing is located on the internet, but recognize that potential complications may not be mentioned. Ultimately, body piercing is an individual decision. If you would like more advice or are concerned you may have an infection, consider consulting with a physician.

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