As a parent, it is always difficult when your child voices their intention to get a body piercing. Parents are faced with this dilemma every day and must base their decision upon facts. Before an informed and rational decision can be reached, you must wade through the barrage of misinformation, myth and conjecture to reach the facts. The risks and dangers of body piercing are real, but may not be as great as imagined. The primary decision of course, is to allow a minor to get a body piercing or not to. Of course, the problem with saying ‘no’ is that the child may do it themselves (incorrectly and putting themselves at even greater risk). It depends upon the relationship you have established with your child and if your child respects the boundaries you have set for him or her. Even if you are against it, it may be the wiser choice to take your son or daughter to a body piercer yourself to have it done, at least that way you will know they are in the hands of a professional and you will have a chance to inspect the shop and body piercer’s credentials yourself to insure competency. If you do not believe it is the right thing to allow your child to do, stand your ground firmly and make sure to be aware of any ‘piercings’ that may appear later on. Some piercings are easy to hide, especially tongue, navel and other piercings that are concealed by clothing. If you make it clear to your child that you will be watching them and checking them for piercings, it should help act as a deterrent to them.
If you choose to allow a body piercing to be done, here are the risks involved (even from a professional and accredited body piercer that performs the technique by the book);
Risk of infection: The risk of infection or rejection by the body is always present in any piercing, no matter how carefully it was done. Infection can develop from exposure to bacteria long after the piercing, as well as irritation and rejection from irritation or improper aftercare treatement by the piercee. The way to minimize infection is to follow proper aftercare procedure to the letter and not take any ‘short-cuts’ or stop before the suggested time-frame.
Pain: There is always pain involved both in the piercing itself and during the healing process. Different body piercings have different pain ‘windows’, and should be considered before doing. Pain can be lessened through various aftercare treatments, through the use of over-the-counter pain reliever, and with the passage of time. As time passes, the pain should recede. If it does not you may have an infections
Allergic Reaction or Rejection: You could develop an allergic reaction to the nickel in the metal used in body jewelry. Most people are fine with 316L Surgical Stainless Steel or Titanium body jewelry for first piercings, but some require non-metallic solutions such as PTFE jewelry.
Nerve Damage: This can occur in areas of the body such as the tongue, facial piercings or other areas that have many nerves present. It is rare that this happens, but there is always a slight chance it can.
Bleeding Excessively: If a person getting a piercing is prone to bleeding, or is taking any kind of blood-thinning medications, it may not be a good idea to get pierced. Sometimes even if you are not prone to bleeding it happens, as there is always a chance of hitting a vein during any body piercing. Usually, this is not a major problem and the bleeding will usually stop on it’s own. If the bleeding does not stop after a minute or two, you may need to seek medical attention. A professional body piercer should know if something is not right and be on top of the situation.
Keloids: A form of tough scar-tissue that can form after a body piercing, or may be already present in the area to be pierced without prior injury. Many people develop keloids from body piercings that have been allowed to close, and are quite painful to go ‘through’ if repiercing is required.
Other Risks: There is always the possibility that you may develop complications such as gum infections from mouth/lip piercings, or be unable to donate blood for up to a year once you’ve been pierced. It is also strongly unadvisable to get a body piercing while pregnant, as the risks double and can be passed onto the unborn fetus. Other risks include being judged by co-workers, peers or family members once you have become pierced, as well as possibly impacting your prospects for a new job negatively.
Remember, the vast majority of body-piercings are done every day without incident or concerns. Getting your ears pierced is a type of commonly accepted and performed body piercing that is completely routine and devoid of skepticism. Body piercing overall in many ways can be considered even safer than ear-piercing in method, since body piercings are done with sterile tools and materials, while some types of ear-piercing guns can harbor pathogens and have a higher chance of cross-contamination than body piercing does.
The best thing to do as a parent is to make your decision with the facts in hand, based upon rational information, personal participation (checking out the sterility and credentials of the body piercing shop yourself) and through open and honest communication with your child that is based on calm rationale rather than hysteria or over-reaction. Making the right decision for the right reasons will be remembered years later by your child and they will thank you for it.