Health Talk: Piercings

Body piercing has been popular as an ancient cult and traditional practice in many societies. Today, it is fairly commonplace, and many people enjoy getting various piercings. Body piercings can be seen as a form of expression or art or simply a stylish commodity. Unfortunately, piercings can often get infected, which causes problems.

Infected piercings can actually be very serious. Health risks from piercings include HIV, Hepatitis B and C, as well as many other diseases and disorders. Therefore, prior to trying out an eccentric piercing, it is important to know the repercussions of an infected piercing, as well as means of treatment.

Since a piercing is virtually an open wound, there are many ways that a piercing can become infected. If a sterile technique is not used during the piercing process, bacteria can get into the wound. To ensure a safe piecing, make sure the person performing the procedure has a license to do so. He or she should also wash their hands and wear gloves.

Today, many locations use nitrile gloves due to the vast number of people with latex allergies. The piercer should use a sterile needle or piercing gun. It is also a good idea to make sure that the piercing parlor itself is not dirty.

If the jewelry used after a piercing is not sterile or is allergenic, it can cause an allergic reaction and infection. Thus, be aware of your metal allergies before opting for a piercing. Most piercings are done using titanium or sterling silver. If you have white metal allergies, choose pure gold jewelry for their piercings.

Also, earrings with short posts can also cause infection, as the clasp can press too tightly against the skin, blocking air.

In this situation, cleaning solution cannot get into the space between the clasp and the skin, allowing bacteria to settle and breed.

Symptoms of piercing infections vary from person to person. For the most part, an infected piercing will be painful, red, and swollen.

Other symptoms include itchiness and presence of puss. In addition, you can tell that a piercing is probably infected if it does not heal within a couple of weeks. The beginnings of any irregular illnesses following the piercing can also be signs of infection.

Infected piercings can also result in scar tissue formation. For example, keloids are fairly common. A keloid is an oversized skin growth that occurs within scar tissues.

Keloids can grow as large as the earlobe itself. They are slightly pale due to a restricted supply of blood. The only way to get rid of a keloid is to have it surgically removed, although the likelihood that it will return is usually higher than 50 percent.

Some people are more susceptible to keloid formation and should take extra care of their piercings in order to minimize their chances of forming a keloid.

Infected piercings can generally be treated at home. Sometimes, however, a medical professional may need to be consulted. In its early stages, an infection can usually be eliminated within two or three days.

The jewelry should be taken out and thoroughly cleaned with rubbing alcohol or water and baking soda. The piercing itself should also be thoroughly cleaned and flushed out with warm water.

Then, the jewelry should be soaked in a solution of warm water and sea salt for 10 minutes, three times a day. Sometimes, the jewelry can be put back in after the initial cleaning if the wound has not closed, but the jewelry must still be soaked on a daily basis. If the piercing does not improve, approach a medical professional.

Fortunately, piercing infections are totally preventable. After going to the piercing parlor or stand, the piercing professional should give the customer a list of instructions on how to care for the piercing. They should also provide a bottle of solution to clean the piercing with. Typically, earlobe piercings are the easiest to clean and fastest to heal.

Cartilage, tragus (the small pointed part of the ear that protrudes toward the inner hollow), and nose piercings often take longer to heal — usually around 12 weeks. Moreover, they can be hard to clean. Cartilage and tragus piercings are most likely to get infected because of their sensitive position. Ensuring clean needles or piercing guns, in addition to after-care for piercings are essential for piercing-lovers looking to prevent infection.