WebMD Medical News
Hansa D. Bhargava, MD
Feb. 17, 2012 -- Women once got their ears pierced simply to wear a wider variety of jewelry.
But these days, more and more women and men are getting other parts of their bodies pierced -- from eyebrows and noses to navels, tongues, and genitals -- as a popular form of personal, cultural, or artistic expression.
By one U.S. estimate, 49% of women and 19% of men aged 18 to 50 had piercings in their earlobes in 2004. And 21% of women and 8% of men had piercings in other places.
When done by a trained professional, body piercing is fairly safe overall. The most common problem is infection, affecting up to 20% of all piercings, according to a new review by dermatologists at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology.
Most often the bacterial infections are at the piercing site. Other complications may include bleeding, allergic reactions, skin tearing, or scarring.
In the review, the researchers described some of the main health risks from body piercings and how to prevent them.
To stay safe, the paper describes these points to consider before getting your body pierced.
SOURCES:Holbrook, J. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, February 2012.News release, Northwestern University.Association of Professional Piercers web site.
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