- The Complete Guide to Body Piercing, Healing and Possible Complications
- Types of body piercings
- Possible body piercing health risks and complications
- Is body piercing safe if I have an existing health condition or disease?
- How to choose a body piercing professional
- Tips for taking care of your new piercing
- How long does it take for a piercing to heal?
- Body piercings – Infection vs. rejection
Deciding to get a piercing may seem simple enough, but as with anything in life, it’s not for everyone. There are many reasons to carefully consider or avoid getting a piercing, including a few less obvious reasons that you may never have considered.
While your mother may disapprove, or your boss might not be a fan of facial piercings, here are few more important health conditions that require consideration6 before going under the needle.
- Previous allergic reactions to piercing materials – If you’ve ever had a reaction to receiving a piercing previously, it may be a good idea to stay away from receiving another. If you’re still interested, consult your doctor before doing so and discuss your allergies (i.e. latex, disinfectants, metals etc.) with your piercer prior to the procedure.
- Dental or gum disease – If you have a history of dental or gum disease, but you’d like to receive an oral piercing, it’s important to clear up any existing conditions first to avoid complications that may result in further infection and damage to your teeth and gums. Gum disease occurs as a result of bacteria, if this bacteria is then introduced to an oral piercing site, it can enter these tissues and the bloodstream, causing a systemic infection that affects the entire body.
- Anaemia – Being anaemic or a smoker can lead to a slower wound healing process which in turn could lead to infection.
- Diabetes – Having diabetes doesn’t mean that you have to avoid getting pierced, it just means that your condition has to be stable and under control. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to delayed healing, opening you up to the possibility of infection. Also, be mindful of the fact that diabetes affects circulation and areas known for poorer circulation like the buttocks, shins, ankles and your usual site of insulin injection should be avoided.
- Heart defects or conditions – If you suffer from a congenital heart condition or other heart related issues it is best to avoid piercings as potential infections that may develop as a result can lead to life-threatening heart complications. If you cannot be dissuaded from getting a piercing, then speak to your doctor about antibiotic prophylactic cover and the signs and symptoms of infection to look out for so that you can seek prompt treatment if necessary7.
- Bleeding or clotting disorders or the use of anticoagulant medications – If you have a bleeding or clotting disorder like haemophilia or have been prescribed anticoagulant (anti-clotting) medication, piercings may result in excessive bleeding and may not heal properly.
- Pregnancy – Depending on where you’re considering getting a piercing, many professional piercers will refuse to perform the procedure if you’re pregnant. With the obvious risk of infection aside, abdominal, genital or nipple piercings can be rejected by the body during pregnancy8 which could lead to tearing and scarring.
- Nerve damage – If you’ve experienced nerve damage in the past or you have a condition that affects your nerves, consult with your body piercer before proceeding. Nerve damage could cause complications including the inability for the wound to heal as it should.
- Bloodborne viruses – If you suffer from a bloodborne virus like HIV, Hepatitis B or C, you should make your piercer aware of this as a matter of courtesy to him / her as added care will be taken when performing the piercing. It’s always important to discuss any issues that may arise with your piercing professional. Chat about your concerns, divulge any and all possible medical issues, and if you’re still not sure, seek medical advice.
6. Bolton Council. Advice and safe practice for body piercing: http://www.bolton.gov.uk/sites/DocumentCentre/Documents/bodypiercing_guidance.pdf Pg 26. [Accessed: 22.06.2018].
7. US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. November 2007. Shebani, Suhair O., Milnes, Helen F J., Simmons, Phil., Stickley, John & De Giovanni, Joseph V. Awareness of the risk of endocarditis associated with tattooing and body piercing among patients with congenital heart disease and paediatric cardiologists in the United Kingdom: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2083627/ [Accessed 22.06.2018}
8. Semantic Scholar. Kluger N, Monestier S, Blatiere V. March 2010. Complications related to abdominal microdermal implants during pregnancy: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Complications-related-to-abdominal-microdermal-Kluger-Monestier/c27e3e11cbfca7f7691efab885c714d544437c1d [Accessed 22.06.2018]