Do Piercings Have Any Health Risks?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on March 22, 2023
    Last Updated: April 7, 2023

Piercings have been a popular form of self-expression for centuries. From earlobe piercings to nose piercings and everything in between, piercings have become a common sight in modern society. While piercings may seem harmless, there are certain health risks associated with them.

In this article, we will explore some of the potential health risks of piercings.

Potential Risks


One of the most common health risks associated with piercings is infection. When a piercing is made, it creates an open wound that can easily become infected if not properly cared for. Infections can range from mild to severe and can cause redness, swelling, pain, and even fever. To reduce the risk of infection, it is important to follow proper aftercare instructions provided by the piercer.

Allergic Reactions

Another potential health risk of piercings is allergic reactions. Some people may be allergic to the metals used in the piercing jewelry, such as nickel or copper. Allergic reactions can cause redness, swelling, itching, and even blisters. To prevent an allergic reaction, it is important to choose jewelry made from high-quality materials and to be aware of any metal allergies you may have.

Nerve Damage

In rare cases, piercings can cause nerve damage. This can occur when a piercing is made too deep or too close to a nerve. Nerve damage can cause numbness, tingling, or even loss of sensation in the area around the piercing. To avoid nerve damage, it is important to choose a reputable piercer who is experienced in the type of piercing you want.


Keloids are raised, thickened areas of scar tissue that can develop around a piercing. Keloids can be itchy and uncomfortable, and can even become larger over time. While anyone can develop a keloid, people with darker skin are more prone to them. To reduce the risk of keloids, it is important to properly care for your piercing and to choose jewelry that fits properly.


Another potential health risk associated with piercings is injury caused by accidental trauma. Piercings can be caught on clothing, snagged by hairbrushes, or pulled during sports or other physical activities, causing tearing or displacement of the jewelry. This can lead to pain, inflammation, or damage to the surrounding tissue, and may even require medical intervention in severe cases.

The Impact of Piercings on Dental Health

Piercings in the oral cavity, such as lip, tongue, or cheek piercings, can have a significant impact on dental health. Here are some ways that piercings can affect oral health:

Damage to teeth and gums: Piercings in the oral cavity can cause damage to the teeth and gums. They can chip or crack teeth, and they can also cause gum recession or irritation.

Infection: Piercings in the oral cavity can also increase the risk of infection. This is because the oral cavity contains a lot of bacteria, and a piercing can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream.

Interference with dental procedures: Piercings in the oral cavity can interfere with dental procedures. For example, they can make it difficult for a dentist to take X-rays, or they may need to be removed for certain procedures.

The Role of Piercings in the Spread of Bloodborne Infections

Piercings can play a role in the transmission of bloodborne infections. Here are some bloodborne infections that can be transmitted through piercings:

Hepatitis B and C

Hepatitis B and C are bloodborne infections that can be transmitted through contaminated needles or other piercing equipment. These infections can lead to liver damage or failure if left untreated.

HIV: HIV is another bloodborne infection that can be transmitted through contaminated needles or other piercing equipment. If left untreated, HIV can progress to AIDS, which can be fatal.


Tetanus is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through contaminated piercing equipment. Symptoms of tetanus include muscle stiffness and spasms, and the infection can be fatal if left untreated.

To reduce the risk of bloodborne infections, it is important to choose a reputable piercer who uses sterile equipment and follows proper safety procedures.

Additionally, if you are considering getting a piercing, it is a good idea to get tested for bloodborne infections beforehand to ensure that you are not putting yourself or others at risk. If you have already gotten a piercing and are experiencing symptoms of a bloodborne infection, seek medical attention immediately.

How to Minimize Piercing Issues

While piercings usually heal fine with little in the way of issues, they do come with certain risks. However, there are steps you can take to minimize piercing issues and reduce the risk of complications. Here are some tips:

  1. Choose a reputable piercer: One of the most important things you can do to minimize piercing issues is to choose a reputable piercer. Look for a piercer who has experience, uses sterile equipment, and follows proper safety procedures.
  2. Be aware of your medical history: Certain medical conditions or medications can increase your risk of complications from a piercing. Be sure to disclose your medical history to your piercer before getting a piercing.
  3. Choose high-quality jewelry: The type of jewelry you choose can have an impact on the healing process. Choose high-quality jewelry made from materials like surgical steel or titanium to reduce the risk of allergic reactions.
  4. Follow aftercare instructions: Proper aftercare is essential for minimizing piercing issues. Your piercer will provide aftercare instructions, which may include cleaning the piercing with saline solution or avoiding certain activities like swimming or using certain skincare products.
  5. Avoid touching the piercing: Touching the piercing with dirty hands can introduce bacteria and increase the risk of infection. Avoid touching the piercing unless necessary, and always wash your hands thoroughly before touching the piercing.
  6. Be patient: Piercings take time to heal, and rushing the healing process can increase the risk of complications. Be patient and follow the aftercare instructions provided by your piercer.

By taking these steps, you can minimize piercing issues and reduce the risk of complications. Remember, if you do experience any unusual symptoms like redness, swelling, or discharge, be sure to contact your piercer or a medical professional for advice.


Piercings can be a fun and unique way to express yourself, but it is important to be aware of the potential health risks. Infections, allergic reactions, nerve damage, and keloids are all possible complications of piercings.

By choosing a reputable piercer, following proper aftercare instructions, and being aware of any metal allergies or other health conditions, you can minimize the risks and enjoy your new piercing safely.

Related Piercing Articles