A new report released Monday by the American Academy of Pediatricians warns that “body art” – tattoos, body piercings and the like – can cause allergic reactions, auricular perichondritis, infection, keloids formation, frictional irritation, paraphimosis, priapism, urethral rupture, airway compromise, gingival trauma, hematoma formation, Ludwig angina, permanent numbness, tooth fracture, abscess formation, jewelry aspiration (that would be breathing a piece of jewelry into an airway) and necrosis of the nasal wall.
And “uncontrolled drooling.”
All, of course, depending on where the tattoo or body piercing is located.
The report is the first from the AAP on tattoos, piercings and body modifications in youth.
“Tattoos and body piercings are an increasingly popular form of self-expression, but it is important for young people to carefully consider the consequences and potential risks associated with body modifications,” the organization explained.
Its “Adolescent and Young Adult Tattooing, Piercing and Scarification” will be published in the October 2017 issue of Pediatrics but became available online Monday.
The report looks at the types and methods used to perform body modifications and details possible complications.
“Tattooing is much more accepted than it was 15 to 20 years ago,” said Cora C. Breuner, M.D., the study’s lead author and chair of the AAP Committee on Adolescence. “In many states, teens have to be at least 18 to get a tattoo, but the regulations vary from place to place. When counseling teens, I tell them to do some research, and to think hard about why they want a tattoo, and where on their body they want it.”
The report notes that societal acceptance of tattoos and piercings may be rising, but a recent survey found 76 percent of 2,700 people interviewed thought “a tattoo or piercing had hurt their changes of getting a job.”
The organization recommends making sure any place offering tattoos be sterile and be respected before signing up. And those getting tattoos or piercings should make sure their immunizations are current and that they are not taking any medication that might compromise their immunity.
The report also discusses ordinary tattoos or piercings in comparison to NSSI, or nonsuicidal self injury syndrome, in which people feel compelled to cut, scratch or burn themselves, which could be associated with mental health disorders.
“In most cases, teens just enjoy the look of the tattoo or piercing, but we do advise them to talk any decision over with their parents or another adult first,” said David Levine, M.D., co-author of the report. “They may not realize how expensive it is to remove a tattoo, or how a piercing on your tongue might result in a chipped tooth.”
See a discussion of the issue:
The study notes Pew Research reported in 2010 that 38 percent of those ages 18-29 had at least one tattoo, and 23 percent had piercings in locations other than an earlobe.
“Although body modifications have become a mainstream trend, they still may be associated with medical complications and, among adolescents, may also co-occur with high-risk behaviors,” the report said.
Beyond the risk of HIV infection, there also are cases of hepatitis C, hepatitis B, tetanus and other diseases.
The placement of a body piercing, or tattoo, is important, the report warned.
“A serious consequence of oral piercing is airway compromise from trauma, tongue swelling, or obstruction by jewelry. Securing an adequate airway or endotracheal intubation can be challenging when a patient has a tongue barbell.
“If lingual jewelry cannot be removed easily or expeditiously, precautions should be taken during intubation to ensure that jewelry is not loosened and aspirated or wallowed.”
Juveniles, the report suggests, should “speak with their parents, guardians, or other responsible adults before having tattoos placed.”
State requirements vary, but such activity is banned in some states and allowed in others with a parent present.
Removal of tattoos can cost up to $300 per square inch.