Whether it’s ears, lips, nostrils, eyebrows, belly buttons, tongues or even cheeks, you’ve probably seen piercings – maybe multiple piercings – on lots of people. But are they safe? And what should you know if you decide to get one?
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 are the ears, nostrils and belly button.
If the person performing the piercing provides a safe, clean and professional environment, this is what you can 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.
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.
If you’re thinking about getting pierced, do your research first. Find out what risks are involved and how best to protect yourself from infections and other complications.
Certain sites on the body can cause more problems than others – infection is a common complication of mouth and nose piercings because of the millions of bacteria that live in those areas. Tongue piercings can damage teeth over time. And tongue, cheek, and lip piercings can cause gum problems.
Studies have shown that people with certain types of heart disease might have a higher risk of developing a heart infection after body piercing. If you have a medical problem such as allergies, diabetes, skin disorders, a condition that affects your immune system or infections – or if you are pregnant – ask your doctor if there are any precautions you should take beforehand. Also, it’s not a good idea to get a body piercing if you’re prone to getting keloids (an overgrowth of scar tissue).
If you decide to get a body piercing, make sure you’re up to date with your immunizations (especially hepatitis and tetanus).
Plan where you will get medical care if the piercing becomes infected (signs of infection include excessive redness/tenderness around the piercing site; prolonged bleeding; pus; or change in your skin color around the piercing area).
Also, if you plan to get a tongue or mouth piercing, make sure your teeth and gums are healthy.
Body piercing is regulated in some states but not others. Do a little investigative work about a shop’s procedures and find out whether it provides a clean and safe environment for its customers. Every shop should have an autoclave (a sterilizing machine) and should keep instruments in sealed packets.
Ask questions and make sure the shop is clean and the person doing the piercing washes his or her hands with a germicidal soap.