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