Unfortunately piercing infections are part and parcel of the procedure. While the chance of getting one can be greatly reduced and even removed completely, there is still a chance it can occur. Infections can occur with any piercing and with any person, although the risk is often slightly higher with young people due to their lack of aftercare. A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2008 stated that ten percent of youth aged sixteen and over had body piercings, showcasing the increased likelihood that piercing infections will affect young people.
Many people do not understand the severe risks of piercing infections if they develop. While some may be mild and easily cured, some can develop into something much more serious. Medical conditions such as infections can and do result from piercing. For example, scientists at Yale University in the United States in 2001 directly linked a young woman's brain abscess to an infection received from a tongue piercing. And according to the British Medical Journal study, a third of all complications resulted from naval piercings. Unsurprisingly, tongue piercings are the most dangerous, with the most common complications being swelling and inflammation which can soon lead to piercing infections.
The study also noted that complications from piercing infections can be fatal. The authors note that there is evidence to validate concerns about blood-borne viruses being transmitted by body piercings. They caution researchers that their study was not designed to validate these concerns, but provide quantifiable information on youth who choose to be pierced. Therefore, it is thoroughly recommended to visit a professional piercer who will use the correct, sterilized tools and provide suitable aftercare advice to prevent piercing infections from occurring.
There are various piercing infections that can occur, some being more serious than others. Bacterial infections are the most common, resulting in abscesses full of puss. While these may not seem serious, they can develop into blood poisoning if not treated so make sure you see your piercer or doctor as soon as possible. Other infections are quite rare in this country due to the hygienic restrictions in place. HIV and hepatitis can be transferred through piercing equipment but this is rare, if not impossible, in the UK. Still, make sure you visit a respectable studio to prevent the likelihood of piercing infections occurring.
As mentioned, piercing infections are more common among young people but they can happen to anyone. According to an article published in the Daily Mail in 2008, one in three young people who underwent body piercings suffer from medical complications as a result. This makes it vital to do your research, choose a respectable piercer and perform the correct aftercare to reduce the risk of piercing infections and more serious problems.
The difficulty of piercing rejection is one that many people come across. The process occurs when a piercing is forced out of the body; in other words, rejected. The skin is not used to having foreign objects embedded in it and so the body will sometimes react to a piercing as it would to something like a splinter. This is one of the main reasons that piercing rejection occurs.
The rate of piercing rejections significantly increases when discussing surface piercings. This is because they are a more complex and sensitive procedure than one that goes all the way through a body part. More skin is affected and there is less of an anchor keeping it in place, as well as the healing process taking longer. Excessive movement, friction, poor quality jewellery, improper piercing technique and even accidental bumping can increase the risk of piercing rejection in these instances.
Signs of piercing rejection include redness, swelling, itching, soreness and shrinking of the piercing holes. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take immediate action. Contact the shop where you got your piercing and ask for advice on how to deal with the rejection. They may ask you to come in so that they can see whether piercing rejection is occurring and address it in person.
Meanwhile, do not do anything that may increase the piercing rejection rate. Don’t remove the jewellery if you believe the piercing to be infected; this will promote closure of the exit holes and leave the infection trapped under the skin. Avoid touching the area too much as this will increase irritation and can transfer dirt or bacteria from your hands. Gentle cleaning can be performed at home with the recommended cleaning solution or a salt-soak. If you choose this method, be very gentle as too much rubbing or bumping can increase piercing rejection complications. Keep an eye on the area and go to the doctor if the rejection or infection gets worse.
To lower the risk of piercing rejection, proper care must be taken. This starts when first considering the type and location of the piercing. Try not to pick an area that experiences a lot of movement or will likely be bumped if pierced. Research piercing parlors in your area to see who has the best reputation then visit them to make sure that their equipment is sterile and the environment is clean. Educating yourself on the best type of jewellery for the piercing you want is also a good idea. Being informed and careful is the best way to reduce the risk of piercing rejection and keep it looking great.