Risks of body piercing
Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:25 pm
Body piercing is a rage all over the world. However, it involves a lot of possible risks. Read on to know more.Body piercing may sound like a new-age art but the truth is that we have been practicing it for centuries. Have you ever realised that even your earring hole is a form of body piercing? It is the most common form of body piercing practised. In India, women routinely pierce their nostrils too. Instances of body piercing have been found in the Bible as well as in Egyptian Mummies.
Body piercing is the piercing of a body part in order to wear jewellery in the opening created. Does that sound crazy? For millions of teenagers and even older people, it is the biggest fashion accessory. People may undergo piercing for a number of reasons. While the most popular reason is aesthetics, sometimes people may pierce for religious, cultural, or sexual reasons. Unusual piercing locations include eyebrows, tongue, lips, nipples, neck, and genital regions. While these may appeal to youngsters, the reception from parents is less than approving. If you are planning to go for it, ensure that you are aware of the risks and possible complications.
A piercing is nothing but a small wound. Go to a registered body piercer so that the procedure you opt for is aseptic, that is, free from bacterial contamination. Many states in the US have government recognized registered practitioners. Follow the directions for after-care meticulously. Very soon, you will find the punctured tissue growing back and becoming part of the closed system. An eyebrow piercing will take about four to six weeks to heal while a neck piercing can take up to twelve months. Piercing your ear lobes means a healing period of 6 to 8 weeks.
Infections or irritation can occur only if the area opens due to some reason. For example, if you catch a nose ring on a coat hook, there can be problems galore.
Quite a few body piercing enthusiasts may be allergic to piercing. A study on body art by Dr. Anne Laumann of North-western University found that women may be more allergic to body piercing. One in four women may display an allergic reaction to metal jewellery. The quality of the metal is of great importance. With a 14-karat gold stud, there is a greater chance of infection due to the amount of nickel in it. The risks may be minimised with pure 24-karat gold. Swollen and itchy, red skin are the primary signs of an allergy. Your doctor will suggest a topical steroid cream for it.
A common concern with people is how to prevent the opening from closing in case they do not wish to wear a ring in it regularly. For example, if you are pregnant, it is advisable not to wear a belly ring. However, you may wish to preserve the hole, it is definitely possible to do so. An inert, flexible insert made of Tygon is used for the purpose. Tygon is flexible plastic tubing that looks like a fishing line. Another option is PTFE or Teflon. A professional piercing artist or a dermatologist can do it for you.
If done improperly, there is every chance of your teeth chipping or breaking due to lip and tongue rings. Ask for studs in the lip to be placed in a neutral space along the lower gum line. This will prevent damage around the mouth area. Tongue piercing needs to be angled such that they do not catch in the palate on the roof of your mouth or the sublingual web along the bottom. Acrylic rather than metal jewellery is considered safest for the mouth region. This is because metal can easily chip teeth and cause injuries.
According to the Association of Professional Piercers, when properly performed, an oral piercing procedure will last only for a few seconds and involve no bloodshed or swelling. People with oral piercings are advised not to share plates and other eating utensils. Though the mouth is exposed to a variety of germs, the saliva has several antimicrobial factors that can easily defend you against these pathogens. However, if you go to an unsafe clinic or you default on your aftercare, there can be severe complications. Pain and bleeding, infections, dental and heart problems, injury due to swallowing the jewellery, drooling, and bad breath are some of the risks. The American Dental Association is against oral piercing and deems it a public health hazard. Some gruesome photographs only intensify the debate.
Studies have found that navel piercing is the most susceptible to infections. Surprisingly, even nipple and genital piercings are found to be safer. The irritation from clothing may pose a medical problem. Shirt materials, belts, waistbands, and buttons can create friction with the jewellery during movement. This is particularly aggravated during physical exertion. Small breaks occur in the skin, leading to infection. Another disadvantage with navel piercing is that moisture can easily collect in the area, which provides a hotbed for bacteria and fungus.