There are salient health and safety issues you should keep in mind if you are considering getting tattooed or pierced. You should think carefully about having a permanent body art, ensure you understand the process, and how to reduce the possible risks associated with the procedure.

Tattoo is a type of body art created when ink is inserted into the dermal layer of your skin using a needle. This results to a change of the skin pigment, and allows the creation of any image imaginable. Piercing also modifies your body through a needle puncture to create a hole in the body. People insert jewelries into this hole. Parts of the body involved in this are the noses, ears, tongues, lips, navels, eyebrows,  and genitals. Some people may be dramatic with it by inserting beads into the site which causes scarring of the skin. The procedure for these body arts have health risks you should be aware of. Keep reading to understand the adverse side effects associated with body modification procedures.


The procedure for receiving a tattoo necessitates the artist to use a handheld machine with an attached needle to puncture the skin. Each time the device makes a hole, it injects ink into the dermal layer of the skin (the layer of the skin below the epidermis). Most tattoos are done for self-expression but they can damage your skin and result into complication. Complications may include:

  • Infection of the skin, mostly a staphylococcus infection or tuberculosis.
  • Keloid formation (overgrowth of scar tissue).
  • Blood-borne infections like hepatitis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tetanus and other infections that are transmissible via blood.
  • Allergic reaction evidenced by rash at the tattoo site. You may develop this years later.

Long term effects of the ink used for this procedure still remain unknown.

Body piercings

The procedure also carries a measure of risk that includes bacterial infection and abscess after getting a piercing, which is a serious side-effect that poses the risk for sepsis (a life-threatening response to an infection that can result to death). Complications associated with piercing may include:

  • Damaged blood vessel that causes bleeding.
  • Keloid formation (overgrowth of scar tissue).
  • Inflammation around the piercing site.
  • Tongue piercing can result to teeth damage and difficulty speaking. It may also result to swelling of the tongue which can block the airway.
  • Painful sexual intercourse and urination with genital piercing.
  • Risk increased with medical conditions like diabetes, immunosupppresive conditions and allergy. It is important to see a doctor with any adverse reactions from piercing.

Safety precautions when getting tattooed and pierced

  • Proper hand hygiene and use of  disposable surgical gloves by piercers.
  • Sanitize piercing equipment and surfaces.
  • Sterilize jewelries for insertion into pierced holes.
  • Prevent direct sun exposure for the first few weeks for a tattoo.
  • Carefully clean tattoo with plain soap and water and pat dry.
  • Carefully clean new piercing with a salt water solution and apply gauze to cover.


Piercing can be reversed by simply removing the jewelry and allowing the hole in the skin to heal. Book an appointment with your doctor immediately if you notice an infection evidenced by red, swollen skin, abscess and fever.

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