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Body Piercing Infection and Injury Report

Body Art is increasing in popularity with young people. Body piercing is the fastest growing form of body decoration and is widely practiced.

Body piercing is an invasive procedure with potential health risks. Any penetration of the skin, with resultant bleeding, may cause infections including the transmission of blood borne viruses e.g. HIV, Hepatitis B or C. It is not known how many will contract viral infections from a piercing but there will be an increased risk.

A major survey, carried out by Southern Primary Health - Noarlunga, South Australia identified infection and injury from body piercing in the southern suburbs as a significant public health issue.

In a 12 month period the Southern Division of GPs reported 1230 individual presentations from piercings. The body piercing industry identified a further 396 people.

Preventative strategies to address this issue include ensuring those who provide skin penetration procedures are trained in best practice suitable after-care advice educational resources for young people teacher education highlighting health risks associated with piercing.

It is important to be vigilant regarding transmission of blood borne viruses. There are an estimated 260,000 people with HCV in Australia, with 16,000 new infections projected to be occurring annually.

Complications reported in this survey indicate a substantial workload for local GPs and subsequent costs to the Australian health care system.  These survey results provide evidence that body piercing carried out in an un-sterile environment will result in increased infections and injuries.

For further information please contact Steve Parker at Noarlunga Health Village ph 8384 9307 or 8384 9266 or by email parker.steve@saugov.sa.gov.au

To access the Body Piercing Infection and Injury Report please click here.

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