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Things to know about body piercing

Body piercings, from ears and eyebrows to nose and navels, make a statement, but they can also trigger serious problems, from allergic reactions to hepatitis.

fashion and trends Updated: Feb 24, 2012 18:06 IST
Relaxnews
Piercing
Piercing

Body piercings, from ears and eyebrows to nose and navels, make a statement, but they can also trigger serious problems, from allergic reactions to hepatitis. Announced last week, a new report from US dermatologists examines the risks while offering up ways to express yourself without the risk.

"Go to a reputable place," says Dr. Jaimee Holbrook, a Northwestern University clinical research fellow who coauthored the report, published in the February issue of American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. "Talk to your piercer."

The most common problem is bacterial infection, affecting up to 20 percent of all piercings. But Holbrooke adds that piercing is generally safe when performed by a trained professional. Be sure your piercer uses sterilized tools and follows safety precautions for dealing with blood and controlling infections.

Also talk to your piercer about your medical history, including allergies, diabetes, and heart disease risks, says Holbrooke. If you currently have an infection, put off your piercing until you are healthy, and be aware of your own medical issues beforehand -- some conditions weaken your immune system, which raises your chances of infection from your piercing.

Avoid taking aspirin for a week before your piercing, and avoid other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) for at least a day before getting pierced and for seven days afterward. Don't forget to talk to your piercer about how long the wound typically takes to heal, ask what to expect in terms of side effects, and learn how to keep your new piercing clean afterward.

Also factor in your lifestyle. If you practice contact sports or your piercing is in an area that will easily snag on clothing, this could injure the skin. Or if you have a job that requires you to frequently remove your piercing, this could also increase your risks of infection and lengthen healing time.