You’ve probably noticed people are sporting body piercings and tattoos more than ever. These aren’t just a fad among young rebels anymore - you’ll even find them on mothers and professionals. What might have once been considered taboo by many may now be considered the norm. But if you’ve thought about creating “art” on your body with a body piercing or tattoo, you should consider not only the design or placement, but also the potential health risks and permanence that may come with one.
While body piercings and tattoos may be a creative way to express individuality, they don’t come without health risks. Keep in mind that getting either a piercing or tattoo is a form of altering your body, which can mean trouble, even when they are done safely. This is because the body’s ultimate protective barrier - the skin - is being punctured. Infection and certain skin reactions can occur, some more serious than others.
Here are some specific health risks of tattoos and piercings that must be taken into consideration before getting one done:
Allergic reactions are common. Tattoo dyes can cause an itchy rash, particularly red dye, even years after the initial work. With body piercings, just like in the ears, jewellery that is made of nickel or brass can also cause allergic reactions.
Infections are especially common with body piercings. Signs that you have a piercing infection include swelling, redness, warmth and discharge. While navel piercings may look cute, especially on a toned tummy, they can take the longest to heal.
Skin disorders can occur. Skin disorders from tattoos include keloids, raised skin with excessive scarring, and bumps called granulomas, both caused by the tattoo ink. Unsterilized needles can spread disease. The most serious risk is blood-borne diseases like hepatitis, tetanus and HIV/AIDS. Oral complications may also arise from tongue or lip piercings. The jewellery not only causes oral infections, but also cracked teeth and gum damage, which can lead to gum disease.
Not only can piercings and tattoos pose serious physical risks, but you may regret your decision later. That groovy peace sign tattoo on your back may have been hip in the 60s, but it might be far from representing who you are today. Remember: Tattoos are permanent. The decision to mark your body should not be taken lightly, and shouldn’t be a spur of the moment decision. Do your research!
If you do decide that piercing or tattooing your body is right for you, choose an establishment that follows all health and safety guidelines that prevent the spread of diseases.
Follow aftercare instructions religiously. And don’t forget to carefully consider your choice of piercing or design and the place that you will be happy with it in five, 10 or 50 years from now. Whatever you may choose, be safe and be sure.
(Adapted and abridged)
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