Half of the college students in a newly published survey said they had nontraditional body piercings — that is, other than for women’s earrings — and that almost 1 in 10 piercings produced an infection.
Just under a quarter of the students reported having tattoos, but there were no medical complications from them, according to an article published in the January issue of The Mayo Clinic Proceedings. The survey of 454 undergraduates was conducted at the Pleasantville, N.Y., campus of Pace University by Dr. Lester B. Mayers, the director of the university’s sports medicine division.
In an interview, Dr. Mayers said he included pierced earlobes for men and not for women because “my mother has pierced earlobes but my dad did not.”
Piercings other than in the ear were actually quite rare among men: 2 percent had pierced tongues, and 1 percent reported pierced eyebrows, nipples or genitals. The most common nontraditional piercing sites among women were the navel (reported by 29 percent) and the upper ear (27 percent). After that came the tongue (12 percent), nipple (5 percent) and genitals (2 percent).
Some students reported bruising and bleeding at the piercing sites. But Dr. Mayers said he was mostly concerned about the number of bacterial infections, considering how common the survey indicated piercing had become. “The average healing time for a piercing is two to nine months,” Dr. Mayers said. “With a foreign body inserted into a wound, you’d have to expect a certain number of infections.”