Modern entertainment has given today’s generation a taste for body jewelry. Brow studs, belly button rings, nose rings, and a wealth of other accessories have turned up in games and movies, and consumers are of course following suit. No part of the body seems immune to this new fashion trend, and it seems to be gaining ground.
Diamond jewelry and gold chains are still on top of the line, but more and more younger buyers seem to be opting for cutting-edge accessories. Body piercings are especially popular, probably as the technology became more available, widespread, and cheap. Practically every other jewelry store now offers a piercing service that the typical high schooler’s allowance can easily afford.
But how safe are body piercings? The first and perhaps most obvious risk is infection. No matter how you put it, a piercing is essentially a wound, and like any wound, it’s an open door for germs, bacteria, and disease. While the chances of catching something are small, especially if the place is well sanitized, you can never cut the risk down to zero. Bacterial infection usually involves swelling, redness, and acute pain, and should be treated immediately to avoid spreading.
Other people may be allergic to certain metals, commonly brass and nickel. This is a fairly common reaction, and most places have actually switched exclusively to non-reactive metals such as stainless steel and titanium. Some stainless steel jewelry and piercing supplies contain a bit of nickel, but usually not enough to cause an allergic reaction. It may be best to stick to hypoallergenic metals if you’re getting a piercing, especially if you have sensitive skin.
A lesser but more serious risk is the transfer of blood-borne diseases through piercings. These include HIV, hepatitis B and C, and tetanus. This is often the result of poor sterilization, which may happen when equipment is used on several people. Your best bet is to choose the place wisely and keep an eye on their hygiene practices, or to go to an authorized, well-established clinic with a good track record.
Better yet, steer clear of piercings altogether and opt for more traditional jewelry, such as rings and necklaces. Silver rings for women have much of the same appeal as stainless steel piercings, but are much more timeless and valuable, not to mention safe. If you do opt for a piercing, make sure to weigh your options and take every safety measure.