Piercings and tattoos are body decorations that go back to ancient times. Body piercing involves making a hole in the skin so that you can insert jewelry. This is often in the earlobe, but can be in other parts of the body. Tattoos are designs on the skin made with needles and colored ink. A permanent tattoo is meant to last forever. Permanent makeup is a type of tattoo.
The health risks of piercings and tattoos include:
- Allergic reactions
- Keloids, a type of scar that forms during healing
- Infections, such as hepatitis
To reduce the risks, make sure that the facility is clean, safe and has a good reputation. Proper sterilization of the equipment is important. Be sure to follow the instructions on caring for your skin.
Holes from piercing usually close up if you no longer wear the jewelry. It is possible to remove tattoos, but it's painful and can cause scarring.
- Body Piercing (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
- Body Piercing (For Teens) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Piercings: How to Prevent Complications (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Tattoo Removal: Options and Results (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
- Tattoos and Permanent Make-Up (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
- Tattoos and Piercing (For Teens) (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health)
- Tattoos: Understand Risks and Precautions (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Temporary Tattoos, Henna/Mehndi, and "Black Henna" (Food and Drug Administration)
- Think Before You Ink: Are Tattoos Safe? (Food and Drug Administration) Also in Spanish
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Tattooing (National Institutes of Health)