Body art, safely done

The biggest risk from a tattoo is changing your mind later. Unlike piercings, which can heal, tattoos are forever. So think about it for a long time. Don’t rush, and don’t make a decision that is impulsive or while under the influence of something. Removing tattoos by laser can cost thousands and may not be entirely successful in erasing them.

Look out for that abscess

While piercings are less permanent — eyebrow piercings actually have to be redone after time — infection can happen, and similar precautions should be taken, which vary slightly depending on the body part getting the needle. People now pierce all parts of the ear, the nose, the tongue, lips, and other parts of the face, as well as nipples and genitals.

The person doing the piercing should be experienced, skilled and knowledgeable about infection control, keeping everything spotless and sterile, especially the equipment and the jewelry going into the hole. Piercing guns should not be used as they cannot be sterilized. As with tattooing, disposable needles and gloves are essential.

In addition to risks like infection at the wound site, getting infectious diseases, an allergic reaction to the jewelry, and excessive scarring, further possibilities include nerve damage or excessive bleeding as well. Tongue, cheek and lip piercings can damage teeth and gums. Mouth and nostril piercings are common causes of infection because of all the bacteria in those places. Pus-filled abscesses can form. Male genital piercings can lead to impotence.

After a piercing you need to watch for the signs of infection, keep the area scrupulously clean, using germicidal soap and saline solution. Keep hats, sheets, clothing, anything that touches the area, spic and span as well. Don’t finger the jewelry or let anyone else do it. Don’t take it out unless you discuss it with the piercing professional first. You have to be very careful how you eat, sleep, dress, work and play, depending on the piercing’s location. Different spots take varying times to heal, from the four to six weeks of the ear lobe to the nine to twelve months of the navel.

Maybe I’ll just dye my hair purple instead.

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