Infection risk high in dermal piercing

Infection risk high in dermal piercing

It calls for intensive skin care, say artists and dermatologists

Bani J in her music video ‘Miss Judged’ has a dermal piercing below her lower lip.

Dermal piercing is a trend, but it comes with risks, and some artists have stopped doing it. While other body piercings have exit and entry points, dermal piercings sit on the surface of the skin and are held in place with the help of an anchor put into the skin layer. Dermal piercings can be put anywhere on the body, including the foot.

Gautam, tattoo and piercing artist at Tattoo Sutra on Church Street, is not a big fan of dermal piercings.

“Everytime you go out in the dust you have to clean the piercing. Dermal piercings are not good for Indian skin because we don’t take care of our skin,” he says.

Dernmal piercings have a higher chance of infection, he explains. Gautam was taking up dermal piercing, but stopped once he realised the problems.

 Lobe gauging (ear extension) is another trend growing in popularity. The practice of ear stretching goes back centuries, and African tribes practise it to this day.

“It is trending for girls as well as guys. We stretch the skin step by step, starting with a small gauge. Once healed, you can stretch it however much you want. A wooden gauge is heavy, but plastic is light and safe,” says Gautam.

Some artists say manual piercing is less risky than gunshot piercing. But others, such as Naaz Fashion, prefer gunshot piercing. “The difference is that in manual piercing there is blood and a risk of infection and pus formation,” says Mohammed Saif, piercing expert at Naaz Fashion. “The force is like a bullet, and it just goes in and out.”

 The manual vs gunshot debate is longstanding. Manual piercing champions say it can be as painless as gunshot if done right.

Piercings care

Applying antiseptics like Dettol and aloe-vera gel help prevent infections. “You have to apply coconut oil on it regularly. More importantly, don’t touch it too often or move it around. All this leads to infections,” says tattoo artist Syed. Having infection free-piercings comes down mainly to how well the piercings are taken care of.

Long long history

Piercings are one of the most ancient body modifications known to humankind. The Man from Hauslabjoch, popularly known as Otzi the iceman, is a 5,300-year-old preserved mummy who not only had 61 tattoos but also pierced ears. In India, piercings are more than just a fashion statement; they are actually an ancient tradition. Ear and nose piercings are an accepted part of Indian society.

Docs’ advice

Piercings and tattoos are not medically recommended, Dr Vijaya Gowri Bandaru, dermatologist at Sakra World Hospital, says. The processes can cause boils, infections and itches, later leading to keloids (raised scars) and even cancer. The additional colours have lead and heavy metals that can have adverse side-effects,’ she warns.

“Just today I saw a patient with a tattoo above her ankle with pink rose petals. It is causing her severe itching and allergy,” she says. If you must get a tatoo or piercing, do it from a reputed place to avoid HIV and harpes infections from the needles. “I have seen people getting tattoos even from roadside artists on MG Road,” she says.

It is not safe

Calling the trend of piercings and tattoos as one just for looks which is not medically recommended, Dr Vijaya Gowri Bandaru, dermatologist at Sakra World Hospital, says, "Once the skin is pierced anywhere, it will not become normal; there will always be a mark or a hole."

She says that piercings and tattoos can cause boils, infections, itching and reactions, later leading to keloid (raised scars) and even Cancer. Dr Vijaya says that these risks are continuous, with a chance for a person to contract them one after the other.

About tattoos, she says that while normal black tattoos are still okay, 'the additional colours they add in them have a high content of lead and heavy metals that can have adverse side-effects.'

"Just today I had a patient who had a tattoo done above her ankle, one with pink rose petals. It is causing her severe itching and allergic reactions. I have seen many such cases."

She adds that if one is adamant on getting a piercing or a tattoo done, it is best to go to a good place where there are no chances of contracting HIV or Herpes from the needles. "I have seen people getting tattoos even from a roadside vendor on MG Road," she sighs.