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Body Piercing Can be Life Threatening

Posted by Ann V. On 2015 Nov 7th

Body Piercing Can be Life Threatening

Planning to get body piercing done? Think again for a while after reading this…..!

Body Piercing - a canvas for self-expression is a popular trend since years. Walk into any hip lounge or coffee house and you will find customers with tongues decorated with metal studs, earlobes "gauged", and much more.

Besides this adorning aspect of piercing, it has a very bad side too. Have a look at the complications of body piercing that can even be life threatening.

Minor Complications, Sometimes Serious

Research shows that minor complications that can turn serious sometimes and even life threatening on rare occasion occur in 17 percent to 35 percent of all body piercings.

- Cause
- lack of experience
- unhygienic practice of the artist,
- material used
- lack of proper aftercare by the recipient.

In addition, every piercing site on the body has its own specific set of risks. The most common issues include infection, swelling, allergic reactions, bleeding, scarring, pain and slow healing time. Infection occurs in up to 20 percent of piercings.

Although, generally the infection is minor and localized at the site of the piercing, however it can spread to the entire body and can lead to life threatening complications in rare cases, such as a brain abscess or endorcarditis. The navel is one among the sites at greatest risk for infection due to the increased skin moisture and the friction caused by rubbing against clothes.

Chips, Wrecking Ball Fractures

A small amount of bleeding is quite normal with any piercing. But profused blood can be a serious complication. This risk is the highest with penile and tongue piercings as these appendages have numerous small blood vessels.

However, the most common risks associated to tongue piercings are the bane of dentists: gingivitis and chips and fractures of teeth.

Chips and fractures occur because of the regular act of knocking, biting, clacking, clenching, or tapping jewelry against the teeth. Other issues may include speech impediment, eating problems, drooling, taste loss and scarring.

Although, the tongues doesn’t swell after being punctured, however, in some critical cases, the tongue swells so much that it create problem in breathing. In some rare instances, a physician may need to pass a breathing tube through a patient's nose until the swelling settles down.

There’s no surprise in the fact that piercing ornaments have also been accidentally swallowed. Therefore, people who get oral piercing must learn to chew differently to avoid biting on the piercing. Plus, tongue-piercing balls can easily get caught between teeth causing damage. In medical terms, dentists often refer this as the wrecking-ball fracture. Unfortunately, in the worst cases, both tongue and nasal piercings can become embedded requiring surgical removal.

A recent study conducted by Mayo Clinic among college students shows that a tongue piercing can prove to be more trouble than it's worth. About half the people who had tongue piercings eventually let them close.

Piercings of the ear cartilage can also sometimes result in disfigurement in case of serious infections. The cartilage can collapse and leaves a "cauliflower ear" appearance. Repair needs minor plastic surgery accompanied by treatment that can involve steroid injections. When it comes to restoring earlobes that have been stretched and gauged with large holes from ear expanders, plastic surgery also may be the remedy. This will depend on how big the holes are.

Other Site Specific Hazards

Prince Albert - The most common male genital piercing, which perforates the urinary meatus and corona tends to affect urinary flow.
In addition, nasal piercings may cause septal hematomas, edema and extra mucous formation.

Other Well-Known Potential Risks Of Body Piercing

Besides the above explained complications of body piercing, other common potential risks are:
- Transmission of blood borne infections like hepatitis.
- Scarring that includes keloids and allergic reactions.
- The most prevalent allergic reaction is from nickel; though silver jewelry can cause poisoning where leaching of silver salts discolor the skin.
- Skin tears that are caused by jewelry catching on objects like clothing are common, too.