The Potential Health Side Effects of Piercings
If you are thinking of getting a body piercing, it is easy to focus your concerns on the procedure itself. For example, you may be worried about the pain the needle will cause when it pierces your skin. You might also be concerned about what happens after the piercing process. Some piercing client experience complications such as allergies to the jewelry material. Others develop infections and other issues.
The complications that result from body piercing can be short or long-term. Some issues are caused by the location of the piercing and the type of jewelry used. Others may be general consequences from skin piercing such as inflammation and bleeding. Being aware of the potential risks can help you minimize and even avoid them. When you are aware, you can take precautions to protect yourself. However, some hazards are more difficult to avoid unless you avoid piercings entirely. Continue reading below to learn about the most common potential health side effects of piercings.
Immediate or Nearly Immediate Health Consequences
There are several health hazards caused by piercings that can occur during or soon after your piercing appointment. For example, you may experience temporary bleeding at the piercing site immediately after the needle punctures the skin. That bleeding may be prolonged if the needle ruptures a blood vessel. Additionally, the area around the piercing site may temporarily swell or become red.
Another possible immediate complication of piercings is an allergic reaction. Such a reaction may manifest as an itchy rash or red, irritated skin. Moreover, the allergy may not occur due to the piercing process but rather to the composition of the body jewelry used. The most common allergy you may have that creates such irritation is a nickel allergy. If you switch the jewelry to a piece made from a different material such as silver, the allergy symptoms may stop. Other metals that present few allergy risks include:
- Surgical–grade steel.
In addition, piercings can cause more health side effects if you have certain underlying medical conditions. For instance, if you have diabetes, a piercing might compromise your body’s ability to heal after the procedure. Thus, if you are diabetic or experiencing any disorder affecting blood or wound healing, see a doctor before scheduling a piercing appointment.
Abscesses and Keloids
Another danger associated with body piercing is the development of an abscess at or near the piercing site. An abscess is an area of bulging skin filled with pus. The skin surrounding an abscess usually turns red or pink. An abscess forms from debris and bacteria that collect under the skin. It can indicate that the environment or needle used during the procedure was not sterile.
An abscess will not form at your piercing appointment or during the procedure. However, it can develop over time after you go home. Furthermore, it typically will not heal on its own. However, applying a hot compress can open the abscess and allow it to drain.
If a compress does not help, you may need medical attention. During the medical procedure, the doctor makes an incision to puncture the skin surrounding the abscess which will enable it to drain. All pus and bacteria must be removed for the abscess to heal.
In addition, keloids can develop as a result of body piercing. Keloids are areas of excessive scarring with tissue overgrowth. While they are not hazardous to your health, they can be tender or itchy. If you develop one or more keloids after a piercing, the added scar tissue may make wearing your body jewelry uncomfortable. Keloids may also change color permanently, leaving you with dark patches of skin near the piercing site.
Infection and Disease Risks
Infection is one of the most common health risks of body piercing. An infection can be temporary or chronic. It can occur as a result of a dirty needle or piercing environment.
In such an environment, it is easy for bacteria to be introduced into your body during the procedure. Therefore, it is crucial that you do not get a piercing in a friend’s home or any other environment that is not sterile if you want to limit the risk of infection.
Infections can also occur long after your piercing appointment is over. If the site of the piercing is itchy or uncomfortable, you may be tempted to scratch or touch it. However, the site is still an open wound while it is healing. Therefore, any bacteria on your fingers or hands can easily transfer into the piercing site. The same is true if the piercing site comes in direct contact with bacteria carried on other objects or certain irritants such as makeup.
When getting a piercing, you must choose a reputable piercing parlor to limit the risk of disease. Ensure that the establishment is clean and ask if the needle is new and sterile. Unclean or shared needles are of particular concern. They can carry multiple blood disorders. Among them are:
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
- Hepatitis B.
- Hepatitis C.
Tongue and Genital Piercings
Before getting an oral piercing, you must learn about the additional health hazards associated with one. Tongue piercings in particular pose the potentially life-threatening immediate risk of swelling. When your tongue swells slightly, you will experience difficulties with speaking and eating. If the swelling becomes severe your airways can become compromised.
Additionally, an oral piercing can jeopardize the health of your teeth and gums. As the metal jewelry repeatedly pushes against your gums and teeth, your teeth cab chip or loosen, especially those in the bottom front section of your mouth. Moreover, you can also develop oral abscesses and gum infections.
Genital piercings also pose additional health risks. For example, if you get a genital piercing, you may have pain or difficulty urinating. Additionally, you can experience pain during sexual intercourse. If you are male, your piercing can impede your ability to maintain an erection. Blood flow disruption is also a risk if you are female, especially with a clitoral piercing.
Related Resource: Piercings: How to Prevent Complications