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.
What are teens saying about body piercing today?
Ask other teens who have been pierced what they thought of the entire experience. How much did it cost? Was it painful? How long did it take to heal? If they had the chance to do it over again, would they still get the piercing?
Some tips teens have passed along to us:
Are there any medical reasons why I should not get a piercing?
Yes. There are medical conditions (see the list below) that could interfere with the natural healing process after a piercing, which makes getting a piercing under these circumstances not only a bad decision, but a risky one.
The Association of Professional Piercers recommends that you should not get a piercing if:
Bottom line, if you are wondering if it’s safe for you to have an oral or body piercing, you should talk to your primary care provider and/or your specialist health care provider (for example, your cardiologist).
What are the risks of body piercing?
The most serious risks are infections, allergic reactions, bleeding, and damage to nerves or teeth. Infections may be caused by hepatitis, HIV, tetanus, bacteria, and yeast. If the piercer washes his/her hands and uses gloves and sterile equipment and you take good care of your piercing, the risk of infection is lowered (but can still occur).
Did you know that:
Another cause of problems from piercings is using the wrong kind of jewelry for the area pierced. If the jewelry is too large, it can actually cut off the blood supply to the tissue, causing swelling and pain. If the jewelry is either too thin or too heavy, or if you’re allergic to the metal, your body may reject the jewelry.
Know the risks before you have your body pierced:
Is the healing time the same for all body parts?
Healing time is different depending on the part of your body that you get pierced. Some parts are more likely to get infected or have problems. Piercings on your ear lobes usually take about 6-8 weeks to heal.
However, piercings on the
side of your ear (cartilage) can take anywhere from 4 months to 1 year to heal. The reason for this is that the type of tissue in each area is different, and the amount of pressure placed on the pierced area while you are sleeping is different too.
Tongue piercings swell a lot at first, but heal fairly quickly if the right type of jewelry is used.
However, metal jewelry in the tongue may damage your gums and chip the enamel surface of your teeth. In fact, the ADA (American Dental Association – a group of dentists that set professional standards for dentists in the United States), is against any type of oral piercings because of the possible health risks.
In some cases, nipple piercings can damage some of the milk-producing glands in a young woman’s breasts. This can cause infections or problems later on if the woman decides to breast-feed her baby. Some pierced areas, such as the navel (belly button), are more likely to become infected because of irritation from tight clothing. A pierced site needs air to help the healing process.