Body Fizzeek
Tattoos and Body Piercings

In the last decade, celebrities, entertainers, and sports stars have popularised tattoos and body piercings among teenagers.

Although many teens contend that tattoos and piercings are simply popular forms of body adornment, some parents, educators, and health professionals are concerned that tattooed and pierced teens are at greater risk for engaging in unhealthy behaviors.

in 2000 about 500 teens and young adults between 12 and 22 years old who attended a participated in a survey of health risk behaviors.

The survey included questions about the teen's eating behavior, violence, drug abuse, and sexual behavior. Thirteen percent of the teens in the survey had tattoos, and 5% had more than one tattoo. More than 29% of teens acquired their tattoos before they turned 17, and most of the teens had had their tattoos applied by a professional. In contrast, about 27% of teens had body piercings, and about 12% had multiple body piercings. The most common places teens pierced included the ear cartilage (other than the earlobe), mouth/tongue, and navel. Girls were more likely to have tattoos and piercings than boys: 17% of teen girls had tattoos, compared to 8% of boys, and about 37% of girls had body piercings, compared to 10% of boys.

What This Means to You

Body piercing (with the exception of the earlobe) is also not recommended by the UK Academy of Dermatology and the British Dental Association because of the risk of infection. If you decide to let your teen get a tattoo or body piercing, help him find a tattoo or piercing studio that is clean, safe, and professional. You can call your local health department to ask for recommendations and check for any complaints about a particular business.

Piercing Migration

Occasionally a piercing migrates towards the surface of the skin or rejects (grows-out). Migration and rejection is indicated by the piercing becoming narrower and more shallow, and the jewelry may become visible through the skin. A piercing which is quickly rejecting will form scabs where the piercing was originally placed. Healing will be prolonged; the entrances of the piercing will remain red and ragged.

Frequent causes of migration and rejection include:

  • Attempting a piercing where not enough tissue is available to support the piercing
  • placing the piercing at an inappropriate depth or angle to the tissue
  • wearing jewelry of inappropriate design or dimensions (gauge, width, length, weight)
  • friction or pressure against clothing, other body parts, or her jewelry
  • injury to the piercing

A piercing should not be attempted if not enough tissue is available to support the piercing. Because everyone is built differently, not everyone is anatomically suited for every piercing. Piercings made in flat areas and areas which change shape during body movements often reject. A piercing should not be made excessively deep on the assumption that it will "migrate into place."

Wearing jewelry of inappropriate design or dimensions often results in migration or rejection. A ring which is too small in diameter will constrict the piercing and cause the entrances of the piercing to migrate to relieve pressure and conform to the curvature of the ring. If a straight barbell is used through a flat area the balls will create pressure against the skin behind them, causing the piercing to migrate forward.

Jewelry which is too thin in gauge is more easily rejected. Wearing jewelry which is too thin increases the risk of the piercing being torn if the jewelry is suddenly pulled. However, the gauge must not be so thick that the strength of the tissue is compromised.

Injury to the piercing can result in tearing or detachment of the epithelial layer lining the interior of the piercing. The epithelial layer can be torn if the jewelry is sharply pulled or if the jewelry is forced to rotate when he piercing has constricted around it. If the epithelial layer frequently tears, the jewelry should be examined for rough, underpolished areas or scratches.

A rejected piercing may be repierced after the scar tissue has matured and softened, a process which may take a year or more. However, since the skin will never be as strong as it was originally, repiercing behind scar tissue will not insure a successful piercing. The second piercing is usually
made behind the scar tissue from the initial piercing; piercing through the scar tissue can be difficult and in some cases very painful.



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