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Teenagers and Body Piercings

Experimenting with our looks is part of growing up and does not stop simply because you become an adult. As parents we may tone down our more outrageous outfits, perhaps stick to blonde, rather than blue streaks in our hair, but we still express our personalities through our appearance. Teenagers try out new looks constantly, the limiting factor may be school rules but the weekends are dress code free and shopping for a new look is a favorite teenage pastime.

There are few parents, however, that would not be shocked if their teenager came back from the mall, sporting a stud in their tongue or a bolt through their eyebrow. Body piercing is no longer confined to studs in the ears; it has become a craze to puncture untold parts of the body, including parts not generally on show to the world.

Body piercing is hardly a new activity; it has been practiced in some shape or form by many cultures for centuries, from the Masai tribes to the Aztecs and Mayans in South America. The current craze is for increasingly more extreme piercings, with entries in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most body piercings in one session, standing at 3,100 piercings in 6 hours and 15 minutes! The law on body piercing varies between states, but generally anyone over 18 can get it done, and somewhere between 16 and 18 in some states. Otherwise, a reputable body piercing clinic would require parental consent and proof of ID to check age. Unfortunately, there are plenty of disreputable piercing establishments and with their carelessness about age comes the potential for serious infection from the procedure.

A proper response by the body to being pierced is to try and heal the wound, but sometimes the body goes into overdrive and creates a scar like lump at the site of the piercing called a keloid, non lethal but unsightly and only removable with an operation. Contact dermatitis is a consequence of nickel allergy, the skin reacts to the nickel in the jewelry and swells, itches, comes out in a rash. Alternative premium surgical metals such as titanium or gold are then an alternative. A piercing is effectively an open wound, subject to being infected by bacteria if not cleaned regularly. If infection occurs then anti-biotic treatment may be required. Serious illnesses arising from body piercings are Hepatitis B and C, HIV, syphilis and tuberculosis; due to poor hygiene and non sterilization of the piercing equipment.

Intimate body piercings are wholly unsuitable for young teenagers and could be considered a child protection issue. As a parent you have to give consent for most body piercing and you must decide for yourself what is inappropriate and unsafe. Talk to your teenager about the dangers and the aesthetics of body piercings and be clear that you will not tolerate unauthorized piercings.

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