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by Salatha Helton, staff writer


After a tongue piercing, many people aren’t able to eat for weeks; however, when they are, they have difficulty keeping the pierced area clean. “The tongue is an area that concerns me more than any other area,” said Dr. Alfred Walden, DDS, a dentist with a family practice in Sacramento, Calif. “This is because the piercing interferes with a major organ, and I have known many patients to swallow the instrument that is inserted into the tongue for piercing,” stated Dr. Walden.

The most dangerous factor however, according tol lifetoolsforwomen.com is that a local infection can occur. This can cause swelling, pain, a yellow discharge, and if not treated, death.
Every reputable piercing parlor warns of health complications that can arise when body parts are pierced, but no one pays attention. Although body piercing is a new fad for students, piercing has been around for years and practiced in many cultures.

Historical records from as early as 1400 B.C.E. show that ancient cultures pierced themselves as a religious ritual and for sexual enhancement. According to sexscrolls.net, which details lifestyle and health, piercing dates back to the Egyptian pharaohs who pierced their nipples. Even Cleopatra, according to betterhealth.com.

However, if our ancestors had known the dangers behind body piercing, they might have been a little more reluctant.

Mika, who prefers to be addressed by his first name only, at Tiki Tattoo Parlor, located in Waikiki, said: “Body piercing and tattooing differ, because the two use a different needle. Piercing is done with a hollow needle and tattooing is done with a regular straight pen needle.”

Some students feel that piercing is an expression of who they are, and that self-expression is worth the pain. “I used to have my right eyebrow pierced, but I removed it after I experienced pain,” said Dana Jorgensen, a sophomore majoring in business management.

Jorgensen said that she removed the piercing because her hair kept snatching on the ring, and it became irritated. Jorgensen agrees that piercing can be harmful, but feels that it “expresses individuality.”

To get a piercing, a person must be at least 18 years old and must fill out a consent form that holds the person piercing free of liability. Some students recommend avoiding caffeine before a piercing as they experienced inflammation and bleeding.

Be sure the equipment is than sterilized. “Before proceeding with a piercing, the piercing equipment must be sterilized and cleaned in a machine called an autoclave for 30 minutes to an hour,” said Kendra (no last name), of Paragon Body Piercing, located on Kapiolani Blvd. Her shop sterilizes everything twice, said Kendra.

“ The needles used are for a one time use, and shouldn’t be repeatedly used, because that can cause infections and diseases,” Kendra continued. “The tongue and naval are the most popular piercing,” she added, but there’s always the risk of infection or disease. “You have to clean it properly and protect it,” she said.

The diseases that can result are Hepatitis C, AIDS, and other harmful infections. Hepatitis C is a long-term liver disease that can remain hidden for years and is more common than AIDS. There is no treatment for both diseases. Hepatitis C is spread from person to person through the exposure to infected needles. According to www.beincharge.com the infection can stay in the body several years, damage the liver, and if left untreated both diseases can result in death.

“ Nothing can be 100 percent sterile and clean,” said Kendra. “The germs still remain, no matter how hard something is cleaned.” No reputable person will pierce someone who has an infection.
Piercing is costly, ranging anywhere from $30 to $100, not including the cost of jewelry. The common metal used, nickel, causes a number of allergic reactions. In 1990, allergic reactions to nickel gas increased almost 40 percent, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Gold-plated jewelry can also contain amounts of nickel.

The best type of jewelry to use is sterling silver or jewelry made with titanium, because it causes the least irritation (AADA).

“Anyone can pierce; there’s no particular training,” said Kendra. Her shop requires a one-year apprenticeship.

Creg Onaga, Hawai‘i State Department of Health, confirmed that no license is needed to pierce.”
Students need to understand that putting their body into the hands of an unregulated and perhaps unexperienced person risks serious health problems.

“ [Body piercing] is unattractive and has become dangerous in some respect,” said specialist in female medicine, Dr. Sandra Beitman.

Before spending time and money on body piercing, remember that your health could be in the hands of someone who has never done it before and who knows little about hygiene.

HPU alumna Melinda Soerjoko has simple piercings, but wihtout proper care even these can
become infected.

File photo


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