Article

Health risks, medical complications and negative social implications associated with adolescent tattoo and body piercing practices

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Abstract

Tattoos and body piercing as expressions of individuality, group affiliation or belonging, resistance and control have become a normal and popular practice among adolescents. These practices have potential infectious and non-infectious health risks, medical complications and negative social consequences. Long-term effects cannot be predicted. Exposure to tattoo and body piercing through environmental and cultural influences can encourage participation in body art practices, sometimes without awareness of the risks involved. Adolescents who are not aware of associated risks and how these practices can affect them directly are not afforded the right to make knowledgeable and informed decisions about their bodies. Documented cases of complications associated with tattoos and body piercing substantiate the need to develop non-judgemental information networks and programmes for adolescents.

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... Getting a tattoo is a risk-taking activity that has potential medical, physical, and social implications (Vanston & Scott 2008). The prevailing literature has defined tattoos as deviant, a "set of complementary group practices coalescing 538261S GOXXX10.1177/2158244014538261SAGE ...
... Negative effects of having a tattoo include social stigma and discrimination (Goffman, 1963;Vanston & Scott, 2008). Intolerance of persons with visible tattoos remains prevalent in the workplace (Benton & DeRosa, 2002) and in the society at large (John Roberts, 2012); however, tattoos as art may be protected by the First Amendment (Porter, 2012). ...
... Many Americans who do not have tattoos regard persons with tattoos as more rebellious (57%), less attractive (42%), less sexy (36%), and less intelligent (31%; Sever, 2003). Women with tattoos have been stereotyped as heavy drinkers, promiscuous, and unattractive (Vanston & Scott, 2008). ...
Article
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In anticipatory socialization, individuals adopt norms and behaviors of reference groups before transitioning into them. We hypothesized that non-tattooed students who desired a tattoo (1,364 “wannabes”) would report attitudes and behaviors between those of students who already had tattoos (429 tattooed) and respondents who neither had a tattoo nor wanted one (816 resistant students) in Grades 7 to 12 in an entire school district in Colorado. Tattooed respondents reported the lowest school attitudes and educational aspirations, and the most weapons possession, substance use, and delinquent behaviors. Resistant students reported the most prosocial attitudes and behaviors. Consistent with anticipatory socialization toward a more antisocial, tattooed reference group, wannabes reported attitudes and behaviors between resistant and tattooed students. A majority of respondents want a tattoo, so we recommend that school health curricula address health and stigma issues associated with tattoos.
... This includes practices such as body piercing, scarification, or branding (e.g. Armstrong, 2005;Vanston and Scott, 2008;Iftekhar and Zhitny, 2020), which are distinct from tattooing practices. Other themes of academic inquiry include prison tattooing (Hellard, Aitken and Hocking, 2007), mastectomy tattooing (Kruger, 2018), and tattooing for religious purposes (Scheinfeld, 2007). ...
... Tattooing has been examined from a scientific medical perspective (e.g. Mortimer, Chave and Johnston, 2003;Vanston and Scott, 2008;Bandodkar, Jia and Wang, 2015). As this is not directly relevant to the research this literature was not reviewed. ...
Thesis
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Academic focus on contemporary western tattooing is primarily from the disciplinary perspectives of the sciences, economics, history, and anthropology. With few exceptions, attention is placed on the modified body and the recipient of the tattoo rather than the tattoo producer or the processes of production. Though tattooing is an important creative industry, the occupational role of the tattooist and the processes and development of practice is yet to receive academic investigation from a practice-centred perspective. This has led to understanding of tattooing that is either absent entirely, partially informed, or flawed, from a range of perspectives. This AHRC/NPIF funded research is conducted in partnership with Sunderland (England) based tattoo studio Triplesix Studios, where the researcher has worked as a tattooist. A multi-method methodology was created with practice at its core combined with a contextual overview and autoethnography to contribute insight into tattoo production, the role of the producer and stylistic development that is largely absent in academia. It is suggested that the processes of tattoo production are inherently collaborative between tattooist and client. The tattooist’s role is proposed as both material (provision of medium) and non-material (provision of service). The material facet of the tattooist’s role in the provision of the medium is presented as contingent in accordance with the tattoo brief. Autoethnographic accounts of tattooing practice are utilised to generate insight into the non-material facet of the tattooist’s role in the provision of service. Stylistic development with tattooing as a medium through practical investigation that is informed by design training is then presented, illuminating factors that affect the approach of the tattooist. This is the first piece of research to be conducted using tattooing practice as a core methodological approach and demonstrates that understanding of contemporary western tattooing more broadly can be enriched as a result. Through the contribution of a novel methodology, frameworks and documentation offered by this research, it is proposed that tattooing may be better understood from the perspectives in which it has previously been studied and be introduced into broader arts and design scholarship.
... This could consequently hamper organisational productivity and growth. Additionally, although tattoos and body piercings are accepted as cultural norms in many western societies (Laumann and Derick, 2006;Vanston and Scott, 2008), in Nigeria, the societal perceptions of people with tattoos and body piercings are negative and could have a psychological impact on the bearers of tattoos and body piercings. Future research could examine the psychological and sociological impacts of these societal perceptions of people with tattoos and body piercings. ...
Conference Paper
Drawing on 35 in-depth interviews, this article explores the perceptions of managers and employees concerning tattoos and body piercings in Nigeria. This study examines the underlying factors inherent in the comments of the participants. The study reveals a general negative perceptions on tattoos and body piercings, which are basically driven by ethical, religious, and cultural beliefs. Interestingly, the findings also reveal that tattoos and body piercings influence recruitment and selection decisions and could lead to summary dismissal of an employee. Contrary to popular opinion as well as other research findings that social acceptance of tattoos and body piercings is increasing, this study found that Nigerian employers and society generally stigmatise and prejudice against people with tattoos and unconventional body piercings.
... Although tattooing, for instance, is an established practice of asserting control over women and men of lower status in many criminal groups, getting tattoos is not only about being branded. Data show that youth of all genders acquire multiple tattoos at younger ages than older generations (Lauman and Derick, 2006;Vanston and Scott, 2008), and name tattoos are among the most common (Kluger, 2015). Including behaviours that are of valid concern with normative adolescent activities generates confusion and positions young girls themselves and girlhood as a distressing spectre that demands strict management by families, society, and even law enforcement. ...
... When body art is discussed provide it factually, to the point, and believable, then move on to the emphasis of your information, that is on empowerment and self-esteem; content that will be more important to help students respect themselves as they have more confidence about their self-worth and health decisions (Vanston & Scott, 2008). As a health class project, the school nurse could work with the students to help them develop their own decision-making examples that could be applied to many situations, including body art. ...
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To gain a better understanding of adolescents' knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors regarding hepatitis B. Three types of data were collected as part of this investigation: (a) 45 in-depth individual interviews with staff from 20 adolescent health, sexually transmitted disease (STD), and family planning clinics; (b) 96 individual interviews with adolescents and young adults; and (c) questionnaires completed by 17,063 adolescents and young adults. All instruments focused on one or more of the following five topics: (a) knowledge about vaccines; (b) knowledge about hepatitis B; (c) barriers to vaccine acceptance, and ways to overcome these barriers; (d) benefits of the vaccine acceptance, and ways to enhance these benefits; and (e) eight hepatitis B risk factors. Interview data was analyzed using qualitative thematic note-based analyses. Survey data was analyzed using descriptive statistics and Chi-square tests. Adolescents and young adults seen in these clinics know very little about vaccinations in general, or hepatitis B, in particular. Adolescents exhibit low levels of perceived susceptibility, severity, response efficacy, and self-efficacy toward hepatitis B and the hepatitis B vaccine. On average, these adolescents engage in 2.36 high-risk behaviors (the most frequent of which include sexual activity, body piercing, and tattooing). Those who were sexually active, had a tattoo, had a STD, or worked with blood were significantly more likely to begin the vaccination series. There is a clear need for additional educational efforts regarding both vaccinations in general, and hepatitis B in particular. Though adolescents are engaging in a variety of high-risk behaviors, most perceive their risk to be low, and therefore many are not taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves.
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This article describes adolescents' attitudes and practices toward body piercing and their awareness of associated health risks. An anonymous, 32-item, random, convenience-sample survey was administered to 225 participants, ages 12-21 years, at an urban, hospital-based, adolescent clinic. The mean participant age was 16.5 +/- 2.1 years; 78% were female; and 58% were African-American and 30% were Caucasian. Forty-eight percent had a body piercing. About half of participants (range, 45%-62%) endorsed each site as accepted by the public, except for nipple and genital sites, which fewer than 10% endorsed as accepted. African-Americans were more likely to have pierced noses, and to find that site acceptable, whereas Caucasians were more likely to have pierced navels and nipples, and to find those sites acceptable (odds ratio [OR] range, 3.05-19.37). Youth tended to see their own pierced site as more acceptable and less risky than others did (OR range, 8.99-23.61; effect sizes [r] range, .15-.60). The most common health problems from body piercing reported by participants from their personal experience were infection (10%), allergic reaction (1%), and bruising (1%). The most common health problems from body piercing reported by participants based on others' experiences were infection (74%), bleeding (30%), allergic reaction (26%), bruising (19%), and keloids (19%). Those who were pierced in a body-piercing shop reported more infections (18.4%) than those pierced in other places (1.9%) (OR, 11.49; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.39-90.91). Youth who had pierced themselves perceived less risk from piercing from a nonprofessional (50%) compared with those pierced by a professional (77%) (p = .003). Youth from this hospital-based urban adolescent clinic considered body piercings to be generally accepted by the public. Pierced youth in our survey often participated in body piercing practices that they perceived as minimally risky and that they defined as normative. Based on these findings, clinicians should discuss body piercing in the context of providing routine anticipatory guidance to adolescents and should educate adolescents about safer piercing strategies to help minimize associated health risks.
Article
Temporary henna tattoos are a popular fashion accessory in recent years. The tattoo dye consists of henna extract from the plant Lawsonia, and p-phenylenediamine to create a darker shade to the tattoo. Increasingly, emergency departments are seeing children with atopic reactions to these tattoos. The p-phenylenediamine component can cause a spongiotic dermatitis with lympho-histiocytic infiltrates. I present two cases of reactions to temporary tattoos in children attending the emergency department. The acute management of these cases and the possible future consequences of sensitization to p-phenylenediamine are discussed.
Article
The trend of body piercing at sites other than the earlobe has grown in popularity in the past decade. The tongue, lips, nose, eyebrows, nipples, navel, and genitals may be pierced. Complications of body piercing include local and systemic infections, poor cosmesis, and foreign body rejection. Swelling and tooth fracture are common problems after tongue piercing. Minor infections, allergic contact dermatitis, keloid formation, and traumatic tearing may occur after piercing of the earlobe. "High" ear piercing through the ear cartilage is associated with more serious infections and disfigurement. Fluoroquinolone antibiotics are advised for treatment of auricular perichondritis because of their antipseudomonal activity. Many complications from piercing are body-site-specific or related to the piercing technique used. Navel, nipple, and genital piercings often have prolonged healing times. Family physicians should be prepared to address complications of body piercing and provide accurate information to patients.
Article
Tattooing has been around since the early beginnings of modern civilization. Modern tattoo artists use a myriad of colors to produce striking designs, resulting in permanent works of body art; however, we humans have been changing our minds since the beginning of time. Our fickle nature results in the desire to change what has been placed as a permanent reminder of a friend, spouse, or work of art. Removing tattoos began with abrasive and destructive measures to destroy the tattoo, and unfortunately, the skin it was contained in. The discovery of selective photothermolysis, the ability to selectively remove target structures without disrupting the surrounding skin, made it at least possible to remove tattoos without destroying the surrounding skin leaving a scar. Theory predicted that pulse durations in the nanosecond domain would be optimal for tattoo removal, and the Q-switched neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet, alexandrite, and ruby lasers fulfilled this need. Too often, older lasers or intense pulsed light sources are used to treat tattoos, often with significant scarring. Since the advent of the Q-switched lasers more than a decade ago, improvement in tattoo-removal lasers has been incremental. Developments leading to new tattoo inks, feedback systems to detect the absorbance characteristics of tattoo inks, dermal clearing agents, and perhaps even shorter pulse-duration lasers should result in improved results for the future.
Article
Tattoos-ancient forms of permanent body ornamentation (body art) have today become popular fashion accessories worldwide. More than 50% of all tattoos are being done on women. In the recent years body tattooing in unconventional sites (e.g. lumbar and/or sacral area, lower abdomen, breast, and buttocks) has gained increasing popularity among young women (including in pregnancy). Although, the potential hazards of regional anesthesia in patients with lumbar tattoos remain controversial it may seem prudent to avoid a hollow needle insertion (possible tissue entrapment in its bore as the needle passes to the deeper structures) through a tattoo for neuraxial blocks. This author is not aware of any other review articles in English literature discussing implications, and complications of labor analgesia in parturients presenting with lumbar tattoos.
Article
Body piercings and tattoos are becoming more common in the adolescent population today. Despite their movement into mainstream society, literature to aid in counseling of teens about these issues is scant. The practitioner dealing with this population of patients must be armed with the information necessary that will help adolescents make informed decisions about tattoos and piercings.
Article
Of 997 minority high school students, 8.6% had tattoos and 8% piercings (excluding earlobes); 21% with tattoos and 59% with piercings would not repeat the experience. Fifty-eight percent with tattoos and 43% with piercings reported parental knowledge before the procedure; 75% and 80%, respectively, were asked for proof of parental consent.
Do-it-yourself piercings, tattoos concerning Tattoos, piercings, and skin adornments [electronic version]
  • Cronin Jr
CNN.com (2004, 24 February). Do-it-yourself piercings, tattoos concerning. CNN.com. Retrieved 8 May 2006 from http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/Midwest/02/24/poke.and.stick.ap/ Cronin Jr, T.A. (2001). Tattoos, piercings, and skin adornments [electronic version]. Dermatology Nursing, 13, 380–383.
Stop! This tattoo is illegal Tattooing, piercing, healthy behaviors and health value [electronic version]
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Hooper, J. (2006, 2 January). Stop! This tattoo is illegal. Guardian. Retrieved 8 May 2006 from http:// www.guardian.co.uk/italy/story/0,1676553,00.html Huxley, C., & Grogan, S. (2005). Tattooing, piercing, healthy behaviors and health value [electronic version]. Journal of Health Education, 10, 831–841.