Friday, March 10, 2006

The skin is the first line of defense against infection...

Link between girl's death, body piercing being explored
Last Updated Thu, 09 Mar 2006 16:29:50 EST
CBC News
Newfoundland and Labrador's chief medical examiner is investigating the death of a teenage girl from an infection that may have resulted from body piercing.

INDEPTH: Tattoos and body piercing
Simon Avis confirmed to CBC News that the St. John's girl died overnight as a result of an infection.

Avis said one of the potential sources of the infection could be body piercing.

It will take a few days before his office will have more details on the case.

The teen was a senior at Booth Memorial High School in St. John's.

A tragedy response team was in place at the school Thursday to provide grief counselling.

Adam Sharr, a student at the school, said some students were crying openly over the news.

Piercings rarely fatal

Dr. Jim Hutchinson, an expert in microbiology at Memorial University's Faculty of Medicine, said it is rare for someone to die from an infection brought on by body piercing.

However, he said there are risks to the practice.

"There [are] no guarantees anywhere. Everyone should understand there is risk and reward to everything," Hutchinson said. "And I don't believe young people right now understand the level of risk."

As with tattoos and body art, piercing can be risky if equipment is not sterile.

Body piercing has become popular with many people, particularly teenagers and young adults, in recent years.

According to Health Canada, the most frequently pierced sites include the ears, nose, navel, lip, tongue, nipples and genitals.


Princess Pessimism said...

Uhh...Yuck. You know how I feel about infections....Barf. But after reading this, I feel slightly better that after that one piercing I got, that my body rejected, I never got another one...

Trib said...

This is another one of those damn articles that don't have any information in them! (not your fault, of course) You really can't say anything about it without any details except: infections are bad and I have a pierced nipple so in general I am supportive of body piercing.

Jennifer said...

I know, there's no info in the article about anything much, but I looked around and I couldn't find a better one.
Much as I spend a lot of my time telling people that they shouldn't break their skin unnecessarily, I do believe that it's possible to get a piercing and be responsible and careful about it and not have the part of the body that you pierced shrivel up and fall off.
But unfortunately, most of the people who go out and get pierced are dipshits who don't take care of their piercings, and there are a lot of piercers out there who are also dipshits and don't inform people on how to take care of their piercings. (I'm not saying that you're a dipshit if you get a piercing, there are just a lot of dipshits out there -period.)

Being someone who is strangely fascinated by piercings, I often ask my friends to see the after care info sheet that piercers give out when you get your piercing done when they've gotten a piercing. I am amazed by how much they vary, some places say always use this product on your piercing, and some places say never use the exact same product the place down the street tells you to always use. You would think that there would be some kind of standard, but there just isn't.
While I'm sure that Trib would notice if his nipple was getting infected and get it taken care of, there are plenty of other people who wouldn't notice, or not think it's a big deal and Voila! Expensive medical treatment.
This doesn't just go for piercings, I met a guy once who lost his leg because he never took care of an infected cut. He had a prosthetic.
I know someone else who found out after his first tattoo that he was allergic to tattooing ink, but 2 or 3 weeks after he figured this out, I ran into him at a party with a brand new tattoo on his forearm.
Both of these guys are intelligent, friendly ... I think a lot of North Americans have just lost their common sense. They think that good health is something that you don't have to work for, and (in the case of Canadians) that just because we have excellent health care available to us, that this is enough to keep us healthy, but you actually have to visit the doctor, get your shots, put some polysporin on your cuts.

Trib said...

Yeah, I've always been surprised how long people will let things go after it's obvious to even a layperson that you need medical attention. It's different if she got a necrotising fasciitis or gas gangrene or something, then she's just unlucky. Ignoring obvious shit is how you end up in medical textbooks. It's all relative too. Somepeople will tell you to take out a piercing if it gets infected, but I don't think that makes a lot of sense. A skin infection probably means pus and if you close off the route to the surface you've just given yourself a deeper abscess than you would've had. If you express the pus, slide the jewelry back and forth and clean both sides, it seems to take care of the problem. If you just let the abscess grow you'll have to get that drained. A cellulitis is clearly different, but since piercings are confined to the skin I think you wouldn't normally have an initial presentation of cellulitis.
I got my piercing before I had any training and I consider the aftercare to be simple common sense. Which is in short supply these days. People just take their health for granted until they lose their good health and then they get all weepy and mad at the doctor...

Jennifer said...

Necrotising fasciitis is such an interesting disease. The most famous case here was a separatist Quebec politician got it - although I don't think it was piercing related.
The friend who lost his leg, lost it because of gangrene.
The majority of the disagreement I've seen in piercing aftercare is what kind of/whether to clean it. I was given a special cream and then told to use rubbing alcohol when I had my ears pierced as a child. I've heard people saying use rubbing alcohol, never use it, use tea tree oil, never use it, use polysporin, never use it. If it gets infected, take it out, leave it in... on and on... my solution, don't get pierced and then you don't have to worry about it. I was soured on the whole experience after my ear lobes were infected intermittently for the last 19 years, i.e. one or the other oozes puss once every month or two, and I haven't had any earings in them in 8 or 10 years.
Also, I don't find broken skin attractive. So if the broken skin is where I have to look at the person, then I'd rather not. And in a potential date, you'd better belive that I'm not going to touch any place where there is broken skin if that's your lip, then don't expect a goodnight kiss. (and everyone can keep their responses to this comment clean, as my mom could be reading)
As for not getting things cared for when they obviously should. I've mentioned this before, and I'm sure I will again, but we have a great program in Ontario called Telehealth Ontario, it's a phone line where you talk to a registered nurse and she has a computer with specialized software in front of her. So you tell her your problem and she tells you if you should, wait and go to the doctor, or go to the emergency or if there's something you can do at home. It's like being able to call my mom (the one who knows all things, or at least knows how to find out all things) at any hour of the day or night for advice, except she doesn't get pissed at you for calling at 4am. They can also tell you where to go that's open near you and what place specializes in what kinds of problems. I used them most recently when I got polysporin in my eye and had an allergic reaction that caused my eyeball to swell out of my head. When you aren't sure whether to go to the ER or not, you feel a lot better about going there and waiting if the nurse at telehealth told you you need to go.

Jennifer said...
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