A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology highlights the complication rate for body piercings, which hovers near the 20 percent mark. Complications arise due to a number of issues, such as improper piercing technique, inappropriate jewelry or poor aftercare, which can lead to problems like infection, jewelry rejection or heavy scar tissue.
The good news? If you arm yourself and your teen with knowledge beforehand, you can reduce or eliminate many problems before they have a chance to start. Here's how to do it.
We spoke with a licensed professional body piercer in Lexington, Kentucky to learn more. Haley Street, mother of one, has been in the industry for four years (plus a year-long apprenticeship) and currently works at Bleed Blue Tattoo and Piercing.
She suggests researching piercers and studios yourself. "I feel like every parent of a teen wanting to be pierced should take the time to go in and speak with the piercer ahead of time," she told us. "Ask questions about the jewelry quality that's being used and the heal times and difficulties that go along with the particular piercing their teen is interested in."
Someone who doesn't want to take the time out of their day to answer a parent's questions is a red flag, she shared. "If the piercer is willing to spend time giving in-depth answers and willing to address the risks with the piercing, they're more than likely not just money-hungry and want to keep the best interests of the client in mind," she said.
As a new piercing is a healing wound, it's important to make sure your piercer uses proper jewelry to minimize wear and tear. "Internally threaded jewelry or threadless jewelry is something to look for as they do not have sharp threads that will come in contact with the piercing and possibly tear it," Street explained.
Aftercare is how you take care of the piercing from the time it is fresh until it's completely healed. Your piercer will be able to tell you an approximate healing time as well as how to care for it during the process. "We're finding out more and more that turning the jewelry is not necessary during healing as long as an implant grade non-porous material is being used in the piercing," Street shared.
And as far as cleaning, common first-aid staples in your medicine cabinet, such as anti-bacterial ointment and peroxide, are a no-go with piercings. Some studios recommend anti-microbial soaps, but even that isn't set in stone. Street's aftercare for her clients? "I usually recommend an aftercare involving an additive-free saline solution, warm compresses and 'leaving it alone,'" she said.
A great place to begin before you venture out into your town's studios is the Association of Professional Piercers website -- www.safepiercing.org. Parker, mom of one, said, "You can find out how to choose a piercer and studio, aftercare, health considerations, troubleshooting... tons of great info. It will tell you pretty much everything you need to know."
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