Tattoos and Body Piercing: Warning Signs for Parents

By | January 10, 2014

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Many teenagers, today, seek out opportunities to show their characteristics and unique personality style through body piercing and tattoos. As parents, it is important to understand the dangers associated with body piercing and tattoos so as to better understand the risks of associated infections and complications in teenagers who may choose to pursue these risky lifestyle options.

Tattoos and body piercing have become mainstream with many teenagers following in the path of their peers or older siblings as a way to make their own fashion statement. For teenagers considering either of these risky procedures, it is important to encourage the teenager to obtain the services only from a credible tattoo or body piercing artist to ensure the environment is sanitary and proper hygiene is maintained.

In history, tattoos and body piercing are noted to times dating back many centuries before Christ, i.e. 2000 b.c. With many religious and ethnic groups utilizing tattoos and body piercing as a method for symbolism, the popularity of these same cultural influences have stemmed into mainstream USA.

As a lifetime commitment, tattoos have a far great impact on the skin than body piercing however both provide for an equal risk of infection and complications. For parents, when teenagers express an interest in tattoo art or body piercing, it is important to convey the message of lifetime commitment in an effort to encourage the teenager to address issues of fashion statement that may fade with time.

While body piercing can easily be removed, leaving only the slight marks of a hole where the piercing once was, tattoos pose a far greater complication in terms of removal. While fading of the tattoo is possible, the tattoo will never fully be removed as the ink stain, associated with the tattoo will give way to scar tissue and deterioration of natural skin pigment, associated with the removal process. So, what do you do when your teenager comes home and proudly displays the new tattoo or body piercing.

First, do not panic. Examine the area and monitor, over the next 24 hours, for signs of immediate infection. Because tattoos pose a great risk in complications, it is important the tattoo remain bandaged for 24 hours to prevent the risk of infection. Following the initial 24 hours, be sure your teenager is regularly applying Neosporin or other antibacterial ointment, four times per day. Because the tattoo will scab over, the ointment will prevent the abundance of dry skin from developing and help to keep the tattoo moist while it heals. Body piercing is very similar in that the risk of infection is great. However, using simple applications of antibacterial soap, alcohol and cotton balls, the area around the body piercing should be kept clean and dry until the pierced hole in the skin has healed.

As with any risky lifestyle, when the signs of infection are present, consultation with a healthcare professional is highly recommended. Infection may be present if the area of tattoo or body piercing becomes inflamed, red or swollen. Additionally, infection may be present if the area feels warm to the touch.

For parents, witnessing the markings of tattoos and body piercing, on our teenagers, if often disconcerting and frightening. Educating the teenager in the risks and the associated commitment may go along way to prevent the teenager from pursuing this permanent change in his or her body. However, when the teenager pursues the tattoo or piercing, monitor the area of infection and seek attention from a healthcare professional immediately.

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