Body piercing is very popular with both
men and women. Many areas of the body are used for piercing. Most people who
have piercings do not develop any problems.
The ears are the most
common piercing site. Most of the time, an earlobe piercing heals without any
problems. Piercing other areas of the ear usually involves piercing the
cartilage that gives the ear shape. Piercing ear cartilage creates a wound that
is harder to clean, takes longer to heal, and is more likely to become infected
than earlobe piercing.
Other popular sites include the mouth and
tongue, nose, eyebrow, navel, and genital area. Each body piercing site has its
healing time and its own set of potential problems.
Home treatment can help speed healing of the wound and prevent problems. At
first, a body piercing site may be slightly swollen. A small amount of blood or
fluid may drain from the site.
Common problems that develop from
body piercing include:
If a sterile technique is not used, there is a chance of
spreading diseases, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Blood infections (sepsis) can
occur if a sterile technique is not used.
You can reverse a body
piercing fairly easily by removing the jewelry, which allows the hole to close.
If you have not yet made a decision about piercing, it may be helpful to learn about making the choice to have a piercing and how to prevent
If you have a problem with a body piercing site, check your symptoms to decide if and when you should see a
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
Based on your answers, you need
or other emergency services now.
Symptoms of infection may
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:
Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction
(anaphylaxis) may include:
A severe reaction can be life-threatening. If you have had a
bad allergic reaction to a substance before and are exposed to it again, treat
any symptoms as an emergency. Even if the symptoms are mild at first, they may
quickly become very severe.
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
If proper technique and clean instruments are not used, there
is a chance of getting an infectious disease when you get a tattoo or body
Symptoms of an infectious illness
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
You may need a tetanus shot depending
on how dirty the wound is and how long it has been since your last shot.
Most body piercing wounds can be
cared for at home. If you received written instructions from the person who did
the body piercing, follow those instructions carefully. This will help prevent
problems and promote healing.
If you did not receive instructions
for care of the piercing site, try the following:
How fast the wound heals
depends on the piercing site. The wound may take 4 to
6 weeks or longer to heal. Some sites may take up to a year to heal
Talk to your child's doctor before switching back and
forth between doses of acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you switch between two
medicines, there is a chance your child will get too much medicine.
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
Do what you can to help prevent problems.
Think about the following guidelines and information before making your
decision to pierce a part of your body.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
health professional diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to
answer the following questions:
May 3, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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