Tattoos & Piercings

Tattoos and body piercings are very popular but don’t rush into them without thinking carefully about whether you will still want them in 5, 10 or 50 years! Remember there are other alternative such as henna, temporary tattoos, transfers and other body jewellery.

Also you need to know what the laws on tattoos and body piercings are.

Body Piercings
Body piercing is the insertion of jewellery into an opening made in the ear, nose, eyebrow, lip, tongue or other area of the body.

How is it done?
Body piercing is traditionally done without anesthesia to dull the pain. The person doing the piercing either pushes a needle through the body part and then inserts the jewellery through this tract or they use a piercing gun. The guns can be more difficult to sterilise and can more easily damage the skin.

What are the risks?
Anytime the skin is punctured, there is a risk of infection. Specific risks include:

  • Blood-borne diseases. If the equipment used to do your piercing is contaminated with the blood of an infected person, you can contract a number of serious blood-borne diseases. These include hepatitis C, hepatitis B, tetanus, tuberculosis and HIV — the virus that causes AIDS.
  • Allergic reactions. Some piercing jewellery is made of nickel or brass, which can cause allergic reactions.
  • Oral complications. Jewellery worn in tongue piercings can chip and crack your teeth and damage your gums.
  • Skin infections. Typical signs and symptoms of an infection include redness, swelling, pain and a pus-like discharge.
  • Infections from piercings in the upper ear cartilage are especially serious. Antibiotics are often ineffective. The ear cartilage doesn’t have its own blood supply and the antibiotics can’t reach the infection site. These infections can lead to cartilage damage and serious, permanent loss or part or your ear.
  • Scars and keloids. Body piercing can cause scars and keloids — ridged areas caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue.

Piercing Care
Follow-up care for your piercing depends on the body part pierced.

If you have an oral piercing (tongue or lip), use an antibacterial, alcohol-free mouth rinse for 30 to 60 seconds after meals while your piercing heals. Use a new soft-bristled toothbrush after the piercing to avoid introducing bacteria into your mouth.
If you have a skin piercing (nose, ears, eyebrow, navel), rinse the site in warm water and use a cotton swab to gently remove any crusting. Then apply a dab of a liquid medicated cleanser to the area.
Gently turn the jewellery back and forth to work the cleanser around the opening. Avoid alcohol and peroxide, which can dry the skin. Also avoid ointments, which keep oxygen from reaching the piercing and can leave a sticky residue.

Piercing removal
Piercings often heal over — sometimes quickly — once you remove the jewellery that keeps the hole open.

The King's School 2008