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.