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Do you really need that extra piece of jewellery?

By Vision Reporter

Added 13th June 2010 03:00 AM

SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD Patricia looks beautiful with the silver jewellery lining her earlobes. However, her classmate, Joan, looks awful. Her earlobes are swollen with wounds oozing with puss and watery blood.

SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD Patricia looks beautiful with the silver jewellery lining her earlobes. However, her classmate, Joan, looks awful. Her earlobes are swollen with wounds oozing with puss and watery blood.

By John Agaba

SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD Patricia looks beautiful with the silver jewellery lining her earlobes. However, her classmate, Joan, looks awful. Her earlobes are swollen with wounds oozing with puss and watery blood.

Joan hurt her ears when she decided to have double piercing on her earlobes. “Two days later, my ears started itching. I got a burning sensation around my earlobes,’’ she says.

Body piercing has become a trend, especially among young people. Many get complications after seeking services from unprofessional beauty beauticians.

According to Shalom, a beauty practitioner at Unisex Beauty Parlour, body piercing and tattooing is highest among Ugandan females aged 17 to 29. They pierce their ears, nose, lips and belly buttons. Meanwhile, more men are inclined to tattoos.

How a tattoo is done
Electric tattoo equipment which carries several small disposable needles is used to inject ink into the dermis, lower layer of skin.

Shalom says the dermis does not wear away, causing the ink to remain in the skin permanently.
During piercing, an opening is made on a client’s preferred body part.

Who is at risk of infection?
People who opt for piercing from unprofessional beauty parlours are susceptible to skin tearing and bruising.
“Pierced skin can accidentally tear, or if exposed to bacteria, develop wounds.”

According to Dr. Ronnie Bahatugire of Mulago Hospital, bacteria can infect the pierced skin making it septic. One can also suffer inflammation, pain and if not attended to, the wound can discharge puss.

One also risks contracting bacterial infection and tetanus. Tetanus occurs when the pierced or tattooed skin gets in contact with infected surfaces, especially soil and animal dung.

The victim could also suffer painful muscle contractions. “Tetanus complications can be fatal,’’ says Bahatugire.

He warns that tongue piercing if not attended to can result in an infection and block the throat.

“Jewellery worn on the tongue often carries bacteria which can also infect the teeth and gums. You can avoid infection by wearing only disinfected jewellery,” adds Bahatugire
If contaminated equipment is used on persons opting for permanent make-up, they are at risk of contracting blood borne infections, according to Dr. Joseph Kavule of Rubaga Hospital.

He says if precaution is not taken, one can contract hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and HIV.

Richard A Helms, in the book, Drug and Disease Management, says hepatitis could result from exposure to contaminated blood.

Hepatitis patients usually suffer from liver inflammation and vomiting. Chronic hepatitis leads to liver cancer, a fatal disease.

Kavule says body piercing also exposes one to keloids (swollen scars). Keloids are caused by abnormal healing of skin. They itch and sometimes break the skin.

“Keloids may form any time you injure your skin. They can occur without warning, even years after you have got your tattoo or piercing,’’ he says.

Though keloids are common and many people can live comfortably with them, many people’s dilemma is removing tattoos and blocking piercings because they are hard to deal with.

Medication
Tetanus can be prevented by immunisation. However, if one is exposed to the infection, he could seek immediate medical care.

“People who have developed keloids can be operated upon. But to ensure safety, radiotherapy is used to remove abnormal cells,’’ says Kavule.

Antiretroviral drugs can be used in the treatment of chronic HIV and hepatitis. “However, these drugs only minimise the infection. There is no total medication for chronic hepatitis,” according to Helms.

Tips for beauty practitioners
Shalom advises beauty parlours to sterilise their equipment to protect their clients from geting infections.
Beauty practitioners must have clean premises.

Shalom recommends hand washing with clean water and antibacterial soap before and after handling equipment. She also recommends wearing gloves.
“Use surgical and not methylated spirits in the sterilisation of equipment,’’ Kavule advises.

He adds that workers of beauty parlours should wear medical gloves when working and dispose of them properly. “Waste should be placed in plastic bags and tied up, while used, sharp equipment should be placed in puncture-resistant containers.’’
After an operation, clients should be given instructions on how to prevent infections and sepsis.

Hygiene practices
Go to a professional practitioner for your permanent make-up.
Ensure the practitioner uses equipment that is clean and sterilised.

Get a tetanus and hepatitis B vaccine before the piercing.
Never tattoo scarred or wounded skin.
Apply make-up on only disinfected skin.

After the tattoo or piercing
Wash hands before applying ointment to the tattooed or pierced area.
Do not use toothpicks to clean the mouth because they could be dirty.

Make sure your hands are clean when touching the jewellery.
Use only disinfected jewellery on tongue piercing. Seek quick medical attention if you suspect any infection.

Do you really need that extra piece of jewellery?

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