Piercings: Cool? Or Cruel?
As you stroll through the mall or across the TCNJ campus, you will probably notice an increasing number of individuals sporting a fairly new trend, body piercings. However, unlike flare jeans or platform shoes, body piercings have many risks involved, not to mention various pain factors depending on what body part is pierced. As an unregulated field of endeavor, infections, diseases, and accidents are not uncommon. Considering the dangers and hassles associated with body piercing, ornamenting oneself in such a way is hardly worth the trouble.
Many people look at a pierced navel, eyebrow, or the presently popular tongue accessory, and wonder why would anybody want to mar themselves in such a way. Although some claim that they sought body piercing for the purposes of beauty or for cultural reasons, the more popular answer, according to prevalent surveys, is I just felt like it (Did That p 1). The majority of those getting pierced and providing this reasoning are adolescents, particularly those younger than eighteen years old. At this age, teenagers are unable to get piercings at any reputable shop without their parent s permission, and as you may have guessed few teens would actually ask, as few parents would consent.
Therefore, many adolescents resort to an amateaur, a friend, or self piercing, and use tools such as, needles, piercing kits, safety pins, staplers, and earrings. Such resources are very often unsterilized and always unsafe (What Every p 1). Thus, most people who get body piercings done, are doing so in the most unsafe conditions and for little reason at all.
The dangers accompanied with nonprofessionals and unreliable equipment are many and various. The most obvious danger in this situation is the great chance of infection. In addition to allergic reactions and scarring (What Every p 1), unsanitary and inadequate pierced openings can cause terrible infections, in some cases to an extent where the individual must be admitted to the hospital. Infections almost always involve redness, swelling, irritation, pus drainage, and of course pain. Areas such as the tongue, ear, and nose, are more susceptable to these infections simply due to their location and the bacteria they come in contact with (You Pierced p 2). Other sensitive areas that are likely to become infectious are those which are usually covered with clothing, such as the navel. This is because sweat is more apt to secrete in these places, and the constant friction from clothing becomes irritating to the wounded site (What Every p 2).
The biggest danger associated with less than ideal piercing conditions, is the risk of getting a disease such as Hepatitus B or AIDS (How Many p 1). If an infected person s blood is on the needle, or other instrument used, this is very possible. In addition to these diseases, youths who did not get a tetanus shot are susceptible to that as well (What Every p 1). If more people were aware of such terrible risks, I highly doubt many would be willing to sacrifice their life to have their navel decorated, or whatever the case may be.
The third classified danger affiliated with nonprofessional piercings, is the people doing the work, the amateurs. In the piercing and tatoo industry, there are no health regulations or training requirements. This means that anybody can buy some equipment, whether it is safe or not, and open up a shop. Because the demand is high in this rapidly growing industry, very often just anybody does exactly that (How Many p 1). Many of these untrained technicians are just out for the money and do not care if they are using the proper piercing devices or if they are poking places that are not suited for that type of brutality (Did That p 2). An apparatus often used by amateurs, and very hazardous, is the piercing gun. In the first place, it was designed after a cow tagging device, which implicates its unreliability. Even worse, however, the instrument gets very dirty because it can not be sterilized and so is proven to very easily become infectious. Unfortunatly, this does not stop nonprofessionals from using it regularly. Likewise, these people are careless, not only about what they pierce with, but where they pierce. Customers will and have walked into these shops, unaware of different safety precautions, and ask to get places, such as their forehead, pierced. The amateur piercing artist willingly gives the customer what he or she wants as long as there is money involved (How Many p 2). They would also be willing to pierce body parts such as the neck and arms, although professionals agree that piercing these areas is extremely dangerous because the ornament can easily be ripped out (Did That p 2-3). Even if an amateur would refuse a piercing they know is dangerous, he or she would still be very undependable because as an untrained worker he or she would not know the biological information associated with piercing. This individual could, therefore, very easily pierce a detrimental area or a vital blood vessel. Lastly, untrained piercing specialists are dangerous for a very different reason. Often, people that go to these shops for genital piercings are sexually harassed or even sexually assaulted (How Many p 2). The point is when a customer goes to get a piercing at one of the many amateur shops, he or she just does not know what they are getting.
Although, getting a piercing done by a trained professional is much safer than going to an amateur, there is still significant risk involved. It is very possible to get an infection, involving sore, red, and pus filled piercing sites, even by a skilled professional, as well as diseases transferred by blood, although, it is less likely (What Every p 2). In addition, some bodies are simply incapable of handling certain piercings resulting in hostile reactions. Even trained specialists can not determine which bodies can handle specific piercings and so must simply take chances. Although it is less likely that a trained professional will cause harm, it is still a gamble. Would you really want to risk it?
Did That Hurt? By Beki Hodgeson http://www.unl.ac.uk/su/pierce.htm
How Many Diseases Can Dance on the Head of a Needle?-February 6, 1997
The Spectator- Seattle University
>You Pierced What?!, Growth Chart Oct/Nov 97