Teens, Tattoos and Body Piercing
Tattoos and body piercing are quite popular and are seen as a fashion statement, but there are health risks associated with tattooing and body piercing.
Tattooing and body piercing risks
My 15-year-old daughter really wants not only a tattoo, but she also seems to think everyone in her "group" is getting a nose stud. I have heard these things can pose a threat to your health. What information can you offer?
Answer: Tattoos and body piercing are quite popular among young people these days, both boys and girls. In some instances, tattoos and piercing are seen as a fashion statement, while others take part to enhance their self-esteem and peer image. Popular or not, there are definite risks and concerns.
Whether or not your daughter goes through with this, here are some things you should discuss as the two of you consider this move.
Teenagers who pursue a tattoo or piercing don't always do their homework to learn which parlors are routinely inspected and licensed. If tattoos are administered by a licensed professional who follows recommended precautions, there is probably a minimal health threat. Teens who are considering a tattoo should realize the following:
- Tattoos are expensive and painful.
- Removal is not impossible but it is expensive, painful and very time consuming. It is certain that the skin will never be the same. Be wary of skin creams advertised as a sure method for removal; they are not proven.
- What is considered "in" during the teenage years, may turn out to be an embarrassing regret as an adult.
- Disease can be transmitted through unclean needles.
- Infection of the skin under the tattoo can be severe and sometimes disfiguring.
Body piercing is not safe. Dermatologists object to all forms of body piercing, with the exception of the ear lobes, and dentists oppose oral piercing to the point of calling it a public health hazard.
Health complications associated with body piercing include prolonged bleeding, scarring, tetanus, abscesses, boils and chronic infections such as halitosis (bad breath) from tongue rings. Infection of Hepatitis B and C also are a threat, with no effective cure. Any time permanent holes are made in the lips, nose and eyebrows they are not easy to repair. Ear piercing of the cartilage of the upper ear is frequently associated with prolonged infection and occasionally permanent disfigurement. Studs and rings can catch in clothes, and can cause large tears in the skin, lip, tongue, etc.
When you discuss the dangers of tattoos and body piercing, be sure your child knows you are concerned about their safety, rather than trying to tell them what to do. Children, especially teenagers, often rebel against their parents' wishes. Ask your daughter why she wants a tattoo or piercing, and it may help you in finding an alternative solution. She may also talk to a dermatologist and you can conduct other research for photos of tattoos that have gone awry or are disproportionate after a person gets older, gains weight, or decides to have them removed. The unappealing sight of the effect years can have on a tattoo may change your daughter's mind very quickly.
Teenagers must be encouraged to think long-term when considering tattoos or body piercing. Regardless of what practices their peers are taking part in, teens must realize that what's considered "trendy" today may not fit what they want for themselves later on in life. Encourage your teen to make a mature decision and then support her and teach her how to respond when she faces that dreaded peer pressure.