Body Piercing: Is it Safe?

By Juliana Day

Body piercing is a contentious issue among many people. Whether you are a parent watching your kids come home with holes in places that would shock their grandparents, or whether you are that 20-something young mom who couldn't resist a tiny little ring in your bellybutton, you probably have an opinion on body piercing.

When I think of body piercing, I think of my cute young cousin who dyed her blond hair jet black and inserted a nose ring, lip ring, and some other ring in her ear that stretches out her lobe.

Many adults view body piercing as an expression of rebellion among teens. Others acknowledge it as a harmless way for teens to assert their individuality.

History of Body Piercing

Body piercing has been around for thousands of years. The earliest known body piercings were depicted on stone carvings found in Iraq in the 9th Century B.C. and in China as early as 2000 B.C.

The Mayans and the Aztecs believed they would get closer to the gods through tongue piercing. Egyptians used naval piercing to mark the rite of passage from child to adult. The Romans considered nipple piercing as symbolic of virility, strength and manhood. And the Victorians were known to pierce body parts to denote their royal status.

There is even a recorded body piercing in the Bible, in Genesis 24:22, when Rebekah (Isaac's intended wife) received the gift of a shanf, or a nose-ring.

On the darker side, body piercing has been used historically to mark criminals, slaves and spies.

Risks and Safety Guidelines


All body piercings, including ears, take a minimum of 6 weeks to heal. The maximum amount of time (if there is no infection) is 3 to 4 months for a navel piercing. This is due to the location of the piercing and the chafing of clothing.


If you are considering a piercing, use an experienced shop. Hepatitis is spreading rapidly in Australia due to unhygienic practices in body piercing. Hepatitis and HIV are transferable when proper sterilization techniques are not followed.


If you are piercing areas other then ears, different metals are required. Platinum, 18 or 24K gold and stainless steel are choices that are acceptable for different areas of the body. A professional shop will provide you with information on required metals. Also, the metal must be cut slightly wider for areas below the neck to prevent the metal "moving".


You must always be conscious of factors that may cause infection, such as perspiration, dirt and germs. Infections are very painful and can cause puss, swelling and bleeding in the infected area. The piercing may even have to be removed

Whatever your views on body piercing, it is important to be informed and to weigh the risks. As for me, I think I'll stick to temporary tattoos to display my wild side.

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