Eliminating little crusties

Tattoos and piercings can get a little gross. With the permanence factor and bacterial infections, Sarah Sanders isn’t sure she wants to get inked.

Tattoos and piercings can get a little gross. With the permanence factor and bacterial infections, Sarah Sanders isn’t sure she wants to get inked.

sarah sanders at the dinner table

Another reason not to get a tattoo is that a tattoo is positive identification. No one should ever do anything to help the police – in any way. Especially when you may be the object of their interest.”

Despite his reason, not many Temple students would take the late George Carlin’s advice when it comes to body art. Maybe we don’t expect to have run-ins with the law; then again, maybe we don’t care.

I’ve realized, though, some people avoid body decorations out of fear – but not the fear that you can never wash that cannabis leaf off your forehead. Rather, it’s the fear that a needle will puncture your skin between 50 and 3,000 times per second, in and out at least 50 times. Some people don’t even get that far in bed.

Plus, I wouldn’t blame them for being a bit skeptical about a machine that hasn’t really changed much since its invention during the 19th century. Take the telephone for example. Could you imagine a world where we still used a model similar to Alexander Graham Bell’s?

Trypanophobia is the clinical term for an irrational fear of needles. But even though your stomach might turn at the thought of getting a tattoo, I’m not sure this always stems from an irrational fear. After all, several things can go wrong when dealing with motor-powered needles. If you’ve considered getting inked, maybe you’ve researched some of the tattoo horror stories, just to give yourself a good scare right before your appointment. You’d find some pretty gruesome pictures of skin infections, usually due to bacteria.

I think the needles that can be even more ominous than tattoo guns are those that punch holes in your body for jewelry and other festive trinkets. Contrary to tattoos, Carlin seemed to think the piercing movement was going places: “self-esteem through self-mutilation,” he said.

Kyle Petersen, from Infinite Body Piercing at Fourth and South streets, said a lot of the pain people feel is all in their heads. Coming into the shop calm and collected can make a world of difference, as opposed to coming in apprehensive and shaky. While it is different for everyone, he admits cartilage piercings can make even the most composed customers flinch.

Because piercings are essentially voluntary wounds, they can elicit more aftercare than tattoos. Petersen emphasizes that customers do not touch their piercings. No need to rotate the bar, or move the ring in and out of the hole to make sure it stays open. Just leave it be. To clean the piercing, he suggests using warm water in the shower to “get little crusties.”

Petersen described the worst-case scenario for piercings as a bacterial infection. At this point, they will require the prescription of antibiotic medications and, at times, can be life-threatening. Petersen said people should visit SafePiercing.org for more information on shop standards.

I’ve had my ears pierced since I was about 8 years old, but I’ve never even gone as far as to get a second pair of holes. And not one drop of ink is in my skin. It’s not that I’m afraid of needles – I suppose I just haven’t seen the merit in body art for myself.

Carlin doesn’t fail me here either: “Not only [will the tattoo] never come off, but it hurts to put it on, and you gotta pay the guy.”

But I like to look at piercings. InfiniteBody.com has a gallery where visitors can see how, say, a Princess Albertina might look on them. Petersen said the weirdest piercing he had seen at the shop, not displayed on the website, was of a girl’s uvula. You know that dangly thing in the back of your mouth? Yeah, I was surprised to learn you could pierce that, too.

Just remember to be safe about decorating your body, especially when it comes to needles. Body art can be really rad, especially when it’s not surrounded by red skin and pus.

Sarah Sanders can be reached at sarah.sanders@temple.edu.

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