Body piercings have grown in popularity, and while they are relatively safe, risks do exist, according to a study in the February issue of the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology.

The No. 1 body piercing complication is bacterial infection. Others may include allergies, loss of blood, scarring, and interference with medical procedures, such as magnetic resobnsnae imaging , x-ray, or ultrasound exams. 

“As piercing becomes more popular, the health care community should become familiar with how to remove the jewelry, in the case of an emergency situation, as well as understand piercing complications and related health risks,” says Jaimee Holbrook, MD, a second year clinical research fellow in the department of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago,  in a press release.

The researchers highlight nine things for consumers to consider before getting a piercing:

  1. Infection: Do you have a preexisting infection?
  2. Medical issues: Do you have a history of asthma, hives, or severe allergic reactions?
  3. Lifestyle: Will you have to remove the piercing for work or contact sports?
  4. Healing issues: Do you have a predisposition to hypertrophic or keloid scarring?
  5. Anatomy: Do you have the right anatomy for the piercing you want?
  6. Professional: Has your piercer been adequately trained?
  7. Medical history: Does the piercer take a complete medical history, including a history of allergies, systemic diseases, particularly inquiring about cardiac disease, unregulated diabetes mellitus, or other conditions that may predispose to infection?
  8. Proper materials: Does the piercer use the appropriate, site-specific materials, such as nickel-free jewelry, to minimize the risks of allergy, infection, migration, and rejection?
  9.  Care instructions:  Will you receive clear oral and written aftercare instructions?

Source: Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine