What you should know about....
Tattooing and Body Piercing

The American Academy of Pediatrics
New York Chapter 2
Committee on Youth and Adolescence

Tattooing and Body Piercing

Tattooing and body piercing have recently become more popular among adolescents.

"Should I get a tattoo or body piercing?"  This is a personal decision, as well as a serious one.  In thinking about this decision, you should be aware of the potential health risks involved and you should know how to protect yourself.

Tattooing involves injecting dyes into the skin. Tattoos are permanent and are associated with serious side effects.  In the State of New York it is illegal for anyone to apply a tattoo to a person under the age of 18.

Body piercing can be performed on any part of the body but certain sites are more likely to be associated with severe complications.   According to New York State law, anyone under the age of 18 must have parental consent in order to pierce any part of the body other than the earlobe.

 The American Academy of Pediatrics, New York Chapter 2 Committee on Youth and Adolescence does not recommend tattooing or body piercing for anyone under the age of 18 years because of the serious health risks associated with these decisions.

Before you decide to get a tattoo or have your body pierced.....
Speak to your pediatrician!


Risks of Tattooing and Body Piercing:
  • Scarring and deformities
  • Allergic reactions to the dyes and metals
  • Bacterial infections
  • Hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS
  • Bleeding and lacerations
  • Chipping of teeth and speech impediments (tongue and lip rings)

What you can do to protect yourself:

  1. Make sure that you are fully immunized against hepatitis B and tetanus.
  2. Use only a professional piercer or tattooist who uses new gloves, disposable needles and sterilized equipment for each client.  A piercing gun should not be used since it cannot be properly sterilized, and needles should never be reused.
  3. Never pierce or tattoo yourself or a friend.
  4. Use jewelry made of surgical grade stainless steel, 14 karat or 18 karat gold, niobium or titanium.
  5. Keep pierced and tattooed areas clean until completely healed.

For your piercing to heal, you must clean it at least twice a day.  Some redness or discharge is to be expected for a few days.

Approximate Healing Times

Earlobe 4-6 weeks
Ear cartilage 2 months - 1 year
Navel 6 months - 1 year
Tongue 4-6 weeks
Eyebrow 6-8 weeks
Lip and cheek 6-8 weeks
Nipple 2-6 months
Genital 2-6 months

See your pediatrician if you have any of the following from your piercing or tattoo site: