Wales has banned under-18s from getting piercings in intimate areas. This includes body parts like the tongue, breasts, genitals, and buttocks.
The move comes after a third of people aged sixteen to twenty-four reported complications from body piercings in the past year.
Most of these problems were caused by people not cleaning their piercings properly, either because they didn’t know how to or were given the wrong cleaning products.
Our reporter Berni Botto spoke to Suzeanne Freeman, a piercer at Studio Eleven in Chatham, to learn how to keep new piercings from getting infected.
“I make a real big deal about aftercare and not touching piercings. Only ever touch it with clean hands, and wash it with salt water. Eating well is also important – have high protein, lots of fruit and vegetables and vitamins to help your body to heal itself,” she said.
“Some places recommend that you use harsh cleaners and hydrogen peroxide, but they’re not good. you’re irritating the piercing channel that way and washing away the good skin cells with the bad,” she added.
Suzeanne recommends 0.9% sodium chloride solution, or salt water washes made with sea salt and warm water. These methods will keep the area sterile, but won’t be too harsh or irritating on the sin.
“Your body’s really good at looking after itself, you can heal really well. You’ve got to let it do its thing,” she said.
The legislation also makes sure that people getting piercings are old enough to give consent.
In England, there is no legal minimum age for piercings – as long as you or your parents can give consent, you can get pierced wherever you want.
Amongst younger people, this can cause many issues – not only because of infections, but because younger children are more likely to touch piercings and because their bodies are still developing.
“Piercings shouldn’t be taken lightly,” added Suzeanne. “You’re making a wound in your body, you’ve got to look after that.”