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The Dangers of Body Piercings

The Dangers of Body PiercingsPiercing is nothing new. It started with earrings, but now piercings have become popular in places like the nose, belly button, nipple and tongue. It has been around for ages and has only grown more and more socially acceptable around the world. Piercing is common among women, younger age groups and even men nowadays. When you go around cities particularly in Lagos, Nigeria among others you will find beauty and Spa outlets offering piercing procedures.

Piercing is another popular form of body art. This is a type of body modification where a needle punctures a hole in the body. Jewellery is then inserted in this hole. Ears, noses, eyebrows, tongues, lips, navels, nipples, genitals, and other body parts can be pierced. However, before making the decision to modify your body, it is important to understand the adverse effects associated with these procedures. According to a report, one in three young people who had a body piercing experienced medical problems. One per cent of these people were forced to seek medical advice or go to hospital because of their piercing.

So you know, modifying your body with piercings also carries a measure of health risk, such as the risk for a bacterial infection. Some people develop an abscess after getting a piercing. This pus-filled mass can develop around the piercing. This is a serious side effect. If left untreated, there is the risk for sepsis or blood poisoning.

A tongue piercing can cause damage to your teeth and cause you to have difficulty speaking. Additionally, if your tongue swells after getting the piercing, swelling can block your airway – making it hard to breathe.

According to survey results published in the British Medical Journal, 25 per cent of body piercings lead to complications including swelling, bleeding and infection. Furthermore, even if you avoid infection, jewellery can lead to rashes and itching for those with nickel allergies, while dangly earrings can damage the ear tissue as it is stretched and pulled down by their weight. To accessorise your look without putting your health at risk, always go to a reputable piercer for new piercings; opt for hypoallergenic jewellery where possible, and reserve heavy earrings for special occasions.

Dermatologists say a newer type of piercing called a dermal anchor carries extra risks. This is a cross between an implant and a piercing. They allow body decoration in areas that would not normally allow surface piercings, like the neck, sternum or cheek.


As with any open wound, a piercing can potentially get infected, leading to tissue damage, fever and other issues. Often piercings need to be left in for 6-9 months initially, during which time sweat, dirt and bacteria can lead to infection. These can sometimes lead to cysts, scarring or other problems. Often infection is treatable with antibiotics, though sometimes the piercing will need to be removed entirely.

According to Health service executive, an online health portal, other health risks of body piercing include:

 Genital piercings can interfere with the functions of the genitals, sometimes making sex and urination difficult and painful. This is particularly common with piercings on and around the penis.

 Ear cartilage piercings (at the top of the ear) are riskier than earlobe piercings. If the site becomes infected, you may develop a painful abscess. This is because the skin is very close to the underlying cartilage and pus can become trapped. Antibiotics do not successfully treat this problem. Surgery is usually required to remove the affected cartilage. This can lead to a deformed ear.

 Nose piercings are riskier than earlobe piercings as the inner surface of the nose (which can’t be disinfected) holds bacteria that can cause infection.

With all these potential risks including everything from infection, to hepatitis to nerve damage, you might be thinking twice about getting a body piercing.


 Gabriel Ifinnwa

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