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Chapter 15 : Infections from Body Piercing and Tattoos
Tattoos and body piercing have received more attention from the medical community in recent years. The increasing acceptance of tattoo and body piercing culture by mainstream society is evidenced by the popularity of numerous reality television shows, particularly those focused on tattooing. Temporary tattoos and body jewelry (without actual piercing) are popular decorative items for children as well. The term “body modification” or “body art” has been used to describe procedures that “enhance” a person’s appearance, whether permanent or temporary. These procedures include tattooing, body piercing, scarification, branding, and surgical modifications. For many people, body modification represents a form of artistic or creative expression that provides long-term enjoyment and thus can be considered a recreational pursuit. A positive effect of the increased interest in tattoos and body piercing has been the development of standardized protocols of infection control to protect the health and safety of both the client and the tattooist or piercer. Though the incidence of serious postprocedure complications appears to be low, a significant number of tattoos and body piercings are still performed by personnel who often do not follow appropriate precautions, thus increasing the possibility of both infectious and noninfectious complications.