Body Piercing and the Risk for Infection

Body piercing is commonly done all over the world. Everything from ears, nose, eyebrows, tongue, genitals, lips, naval, and nipples are being pierced. People think nothing of piercing their bodies with ornamental jewelry at various sites, not realizing the complications that can occur if they are not taken care of properly.

Depending on where and who pierces a person's body, certain complications can occur. If the piercer is not experienced, they may not know or understand the necessary health and safety precautions needed to avoid infections. Adolescents and young adults under the age of 18 are piercing each other without this knowledge because most places will not pierce them without a parental consent (Armstrong, 1998).

If instruments are not properly sterilized or the environment is not clean infection may occur. Infections that can arise are HIV, hepatitis B, tetanus, Pseudomonsa chondritis, and endocarditis. Other complications that can arise are scarring, keloids, and lost of taste. Besides the physiological complications, if a person has negative experiences with body piercing they may also suffer from psychosocial problems (Armstrong, 1998).

The quality of the jewelry, such as brass plated costume jewelry, can cause complications such as an allergic reaction or infection. Jewelry that is brass plated, as most costume jewelry is, can cause an allergic reaction or infection. According to Armstrong, "It's important that you advise patients to use only jewelry made of surgica-grade stainless steel or solid 14-karat yellow gold, niobium, or titanium" (1998, p.27-28).

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