Ear piercings have become pervasively commonplace in our fashionable culture, and is one of the oldest forms of body modification.
The practice of penetrating both the earlobe and surrounding cartilage allows for the adornment of metal, plastic, bone, wood, and other materials of various sizes to be threaded into the flesh and worn.
Contemporary piercing is performed with sterilized, prepackaged needles and other tools which are used to augment the ear to house studs, plugs, hoops, barbells, and various other types of earrings.
The earrings used are forged from hypoallergenic materials such as titanium and surgical stainless steel. People rarely have a heightened sensitivity to the aforementioned elements. In the event of metal allergies, plastic or alternative materials are used.
New piercings require regimental cleansing and care until properly healed. Cartilage piercings are more complex than earlobe piercings and take a longer time to heal.
A helix piercing (upper ear cartilage), for example, can take six months to a year, whereas the earlobe can take a couple of months.
Even with the proper precautions, the cosmetic procedure can result in injuries and infections. When a person receives a piercing, they are instructed on how to care for it during the healing time to avoid contamination. Prematurely exchanging the jewelry for a less hypoallergenic material can result in irritation and promote an infection.
Consider the following a cautionary tale if you ever consider piercing your ears or permit your child to.
Two weeks after 11-year-old Destiny Nickson had her helix pierced it became seriously infected – reddening and swelling.
Destiny and her mother, 37-year-old Veronica Nickson, returned to the Beauty Spot, a piercing and tattoo parlor (in Preston, Lancashire, UK) to report the problem. The staff attempted to remedy the issue. They removed the original earring from the initial March 1 piercing, cleansed the affected area, and replaced the jewelry with a new earring.
The ear continued fester and swell. Destiny was prescribed standard antibiotics but they did nothing. The infection progressed and the schoolgirl was admitted to the Royal Preston Hospital on March 26. Her wound was lanced and stitched before she was discharged three days later.
Unfortunately, Destiny was readmitted on April 2 and was kept for six days. During her stay, IV antibiotics were administered and her swollen ear had to be drained. The persistent infection resulted in the putrefaction of some cartilage.
Destiny ended up with the loss of some connective tissue, eight stitches, a six week recovery time, and may be permanently scarred.
The Beauty Spot insists they cannot be held accountable for an infection that took weeks to appear, especially since they adhere to sterilization and equipment guidelines. Instead they suggest the girl may be one of the rare cases of people who are allergic to titanium, the metal they use in all of their piercings.
[Image via Shutterstock]