Body Piercing Complications
Yes, body piercing is a trend that is not vanishing (especially among teenagers), but you definitely must know what to expect when doing it, as body piercing complications are real and are not a joke.
Many areas of the body are used for piercing, and most of the people don’t have any side effects, however, you can develop some of them.
The most common piercing spot are the ears, but popular spots also include the mouth, tongue, nose, eyebrow, navel, and even the genital area.
During and after this process you may develop mild to severe body piercing complications such as:
Infection At The Pierced Spot
Whenever the skin’s protective barrier is broken, local skin infections from staph or strep bacteria are a great risk.
Infections can often be treated with good skin hygiene and antibiotic medications and with this type of infection, jewelry generally does not have to be taken out.
Because this helps prevent the hole from closing and promotes drainage of the infected area.
Infection of the mouth or lips may cause speech, chewing, swallowing or swelling problems that can block the throat.
Infection of a nipple can scar the breast tissue and limit the ability to breastfeed later. The infection may be potentially serious or life-threatening and involve the entire body if the infections spread.
Why doing this in first place?
Blood Stream Infections
With any piercing there is always danger especially of this type of infection, including the hepatitis B or C viruses and tetanus.
These types of infections are commonly caused by contaminated piercing equipment. It is important to be up to date on immunizations, especially hepatitis B and tetanus, before having anything pierced.
Dental and Mouth Trauma
Tooth chipping is the most common dental problem related to tongue piercing, and not to mention how lip or tongue jewelry can cause gum problems and damage the enamel.
Unfortunately, the jewelry can also become loose and can be swallowed.
Researchers have also found that, in some cases, the jaw bone may be affected requiring oral surgery to preserve the teeth.
Allergic Reactions From Jewelry
Nickel allergy is a very common and is a potentially serious risk of piercing, therefore, jewelry containing nickel must be avoided.
Don’t forget that some gold jewelry may contain nickel as well.
If you get an allergic reaction, the jewelry piece needs to be removed. Steroid creams can then be used to help stop the reaction.
Also note that poor quality jewelry can also cause the same problems as nickel, and as teens are always on a tight budget, they may buy cheap and low quality jewelry that may cause allergic reactions.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), nickel is a common allergen and any reaction would usually go away shortly after removing the piercing.
Jewelry absolutely must be new and never used by anyone else.
It should also be the right size for the body part being pierced.
If it is too big it could lead to large scars or tissue damage, and if it’s too small, it could cut the skin or break off.
Prolonged wearing of heavy jewelry also may result in an elongated or deformed earlobe.
Jewelry in the genital area may cause injury and can cause a condom to break or a diaphragm to dislodge – increasing the risk of pregnancy and exposure to STD(sexually transmitted diseases).
Also, jewelry in the navel can get caught on clothing and linens. This constant irritation can delay healing and may take up to 1 year.
Cuts and tears are common to pierced ears and may occur after falls, motor vehicle crashes, contact sports, person-to-person violence, or accidental pulling of an earring.
To prevent scar tissue from forming and/or permanent deformity, tears should be repaired within 12 to 24 hours.
Keloids are overgrowths of fibrous tissue or scars that can occur in some people after even minor trauma to the skin.
In addition to aesthetic concerns, patients with keloids may have itching and tenderness.
Treatment options for keloids include: surgical excision, corticosteroid injections, cryosurgery (freezing), pressure dressings, radiation and laser therapy.
If you are one of those prone to keloid formation – you should probably not get any piercings whatsoever!
Teens with a chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, may be at a greater risk of complications from body piercings and should check with their pediatrician before getting pierced.
Parents, you definitely should talk them out of this, even it is a teenage trend!
Health in first place!
How To Care For Your Body Piercings
Depending which body part you’ve chosen to pierce, you need a proper after – pierce care.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly before contact with piercing
- Do not use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, because both slow down the healing by drying and killing new healthy cells
- Do not use bacitracin or other ointments. (Ointments attempt to heal the skin and may slow oxygen transport to the tissue)
- Use salt soaks for best care and cleaning of ring or stud, and loosening dry material on the skin (¼ teaspoon of sea salt or teaspoon of table salt dissolved in 8 oz of warm water)
- To clean the surrounding skin, use mild antiseptic products such as benzalkonium chloride, (Bactine, any liquid antibacterial soap – avoid perfumed products). Dilute 50/50 with water, if soap is too harsh.
- Twice a day saturate a cotton swab with the cleaning solution, apply to the pierced area, and let it soak for a few minutes
- Remove any dried matter
- Rotate the jewelry while the area is still wet
Because of decreased vascularization in the upper pinna of the ear, it will take longer than the ear lobe to heal, generally between 12-16 weeks.
It is important not to irritate the ear, and it is recommended that you sleep on the non-pierced side, or sleep on your back – if both ears are pierced.
When talking on the phone, use the un-pierced ear or ear phones if both ears are pierced.
Pierced Nipples and Belly Buttons
- Pierced belly buttons heal in 6-12 months, and pierced nipples heal in 6-8 weeks
- Options for cleaning area with salt water soaks: Make a suction seal between cup and belly button by leaning over cup, then lie down on a towel, lie on your back. Cup should be sealed to abdomen.
- Soak the area for at least 10 minutes. Rinse with plain water. Dry the area thoroughly after soaks.
- OR, Clean the area with salt water soaked cotton swabs. Soak the area for at least 10 minutes. Rinse with plain water. Dry the area thoroughly after soaks.
- Wear loose fitting clothing (clear, pink, or slightly bloody discharge is normal for several days after piercing).
- Do not remove the stud for 8 weeks. Healing may take 12-24 weeks, depending on location of piercing.
- Avoid touching the stud unnecessarily
- Nose piercings can close within hours, so never leave the piercing without jewelry
- The special nose stud is designed to be worn with the stem pointing up the nose. This is not normally uncomfortable.
- If it causes irritation, move the stud slightly until a comfortable position is found
Tongue, Cheek and Lip Piercings General Care
- The healing time is from 6 to 8 weeks
- No oral contact is recommended of any kind for 6 weeks (no wet kissing or oral sex)
- Suck on ice or popsicles the first 24-48 hours to minimize swelling and pain
- Reduce intake of warm beverages, hot or spicy foods, tobacco, alcohol and anything irritating to your mouth
- Rinse with mouthwash for 30-60 seconds after consumption of anything other than water. If Listerine is too harsh – it may be diluted, or use teaspoon sea salt to an 8 oz glass of water
- Use Gly-Oxide/Peroxyl twice daily following the instructions on the bottle: 5 drops on top, 5 drops underneath. Let foam and spit. (This is very important)
- Afterwards you may rinse with water or salt water
The size of the stud is important in the healing process. It is best to use a post ¼ inch longer than the thickness of your tongue.
When the swelling has improved, the post can be downsized to a slightly shorter but still roomy length.
After 6-8 weeks you can wear a stud the length of the piercing.
Cheek and Lip
- The outer opening of the piercing is best treated using liquid antibacterial soap or Bactine
- If the liquid soap is too harsh, it may be diluted 50/50 with water (avoid perfumed products)
- Apply liberally with a cotton swab
- Rotate the jewelry only after the area is moist and dry material has been loosened or removed
- Clean 2-3 times daily
- Continue the above care regimen for 6-8 weeks
- Avoid sexual contact until piercing is fully healed, from 6-10 weeks
- To clean – use warm water with a cleansing agent of antibacterial soap. ( Phisoderm, Bactine, or liquid antibacterial soaps such as Dial, Lever 2000, or Softsoap) and avoid perfumed products
- Dilute 50/50 with water if irritation occurs
- Leave the cleanser on the skin for 3 minutes
- Lather and work the ring back and forth through the piercing half a dozen times
- Remove any dried matter from the surface of the ring and around the opening of the piercing before turning the ring or stud
- Rinse under running water or use a peri-cleanse bottle (available over the counter in most drug stores). It has a squirt top which is ideal for rinsing the area
- Urine may irritate the area but usually does not cause infection
- Keep the new piercing clean
- Never touch it with dirty hands
- During sexual contact, use barriers (condoms, dams, etc.) to keep saliva and other body fluids out of your piercing (avoid sex for 6 to 10 weeks after piercing)
Trend or no trend, you should consider all body piercing complications that may occur. And if you still decide to do it, you better ask around and find a reputable studio.
It does matter if you want to avoid possible body piercing complications.
By the way, what do you think – are health issues caused by body piercing worth the trouble?
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