Body Piercings Are Not as Safe as You Think

Protect yourself from complications.

Posted: 02/24/2012 01:56 PM EST

Deciding to get your belly button, upper ear or tongue pierced? If so, really think about it.


A new report conducted by researchers from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine warns people that despite piercings being very popular, there are some health consequences that need to be considered. According to the review, Body Piercing: Complications and Prevention of Health Risks, almost 20 percent of these piercings result in complications which can range from infections, scarring and bleeding. Some of the more serious rare complications that have been documented have been viral hepatitis, toxic shock syndrome and brain abscesses. They also note that nipple piercings may impact a woman's ability to breast-feed; tongue piercings can cause salivation, dental and speaking issues; and genital piercings can lead to fertility problems and scarring. 


That's pretty alarming. 


Anne Laumann, a professor of dermatology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and co-author of the review told NPR, "I think piercing can be quite dangerous, actually. I would not encourage it in a teenager."


But the reality is that if you decide to get this procedure done, researchers want you to think ahead. 


In their abstract, they wrote: "When it comes to piercing complications, prevention is the key. Body piercers should take a complete medical and social history to identify conditions that may predispose an individual to complications, and candidates should choose a qualified practitioner to perform their piercing."

According to NPR, the review also emphasized the following:


— Make sure that the person doing the piercing is using sterile equipment.


— Belly-button piercings need one year to heal and people shouldn't do sit ups during this time and that they should keep the area covered up when working out or being intimate.


— Piercing the upper cartilage of the ear can have some serious complications including the cartilage dying and the upper ear collapsing.


A common complication to piercings are keloids — abnormal scars that grow outside the wound. And while anyone can develop keloids, African-Americans and Latinos are 15 times more likely to develop them than whites.


Most importantly, keeping your piercing clean and free of germs should be a major priority in reducing your chances of complications and infections.


BET Health News - We go beyond the music and entertainment world to bring you important medical information and health-related tips of special relevance to Blacks in the U.S. and around the world.

 

(Photo: Nick Dolding / Getty Images)

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