To many a parent’s chagrin, tattoos and piercings have skyrocketed in popularity among teenagers. While mom and dad may not want to have a serious discussion about the pros and cons of getting a tattoo or body part pierced with their adolescent, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says pediatricians should be taking to their patients about the health risks and providing safety guidelines.
The AAP released its first report this week regarding tattooing and piercing for adolescents and young adults. The report discusses health risk issues from tattoos and piercings as well providing guidelines to talk to about important safety measures.
"Let's face it, kids are getting tattoos or piercings now," said Dr. Jay Greenspan, chairman of pediatrics at Nemours/A.I. Dupont Hospital for Children. "We know it's mainstream and we want the medical community to be a part of it."
It's unclear how many American teenagers have tattoos and piercings. The report cited a Pew Research Center study that said about 38 percent of young people ages 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo.
In some states, it’s illegal for someone to tattoo or body pierce a minor without the parent’s written consent. But we’re talking about teens here, and where there is a will; there is often a way found around any constraints. That’s why Greenspan believes that an honest discussion is necessary.
Ten years ago, there was an association between tattoos and alcohol, drug use, violence, sexual activity, eating disorders and even suicide. But that's not the case anymore, the report said.
Today’s teens are more likely to associate tattoos and body piercings with celebrities and sports figures than with the seedier side of life.
Seventy-two percent of teens that have tattoos have them in places that can be covered, the report said. High-ear cartilage is one of the most common visible piercings, followed by navel, tongue and nipple and genital.
While the rate of tattoo complications is unclear, the AAP believes it's likely low. Common tattoo complications can be inflammation, infections and neoplasms. Preexisting conditions like psoriasis, systemic lupus and sarcoidosis can lead to reactions.
Data on body piercing complications is also minimal. What is known is that teenagers who have a higher risk of infection, particularly those who are diabetic or taking blood thinning medication, may have a greater risk of complications when getting a piercing.
For piercings, stainless steel posts and studs are recommended to avoid skin reactions. Cheaper products typically have lower quality materials that can lead to a reaction.
So, what do you do if your teen wants a tattoo on their arm or stud placed in their eyebrow? Once you’ve talked it through and if you decide that you’re ok with it, make sure to find a reputable parlor (there are many) and consult with your doctor beforehand to learn how to care for and what to expect during the healing process. Tattoos and body piercings may have become a trend that won’t go away, but they still involve needles and require that certain precautions be taken.
Story source: Meredith Newman, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/09/20/young-people-tattoos-and-piercings-report/686360001/