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Please help Doctor!
Feb 2, 2009

I'm extremely horrified and upset at my son!! He got a nose piercing without my knowledge!! Now I'm freaking out! He is 18 but I'm a single mother and yes, still treat him like he's my baby. He said the piercing studio he went to was really clean and in fact the owner is the one who piercd him. The guy has been doing piercing for 11 years,and is part of the Association Of Professional Piercers.. BUT WHO CARES!! What if he re-used a needle, OR that taper thing that is like a needle, but NOT hollow like the needle. The taper is solid, but the needle worries me more. He said some weird looking woman with a bunch of tatoos and piercings was getting pierced in the room next store and the owner/piercer went in that room to see how the other peircer was doing and then came to pierce my son. I'm worried he could have used the same needle, or picked up a used one. Am I just being crazy??? I asked my son if he asked if things were sterile and clean and he said " I didn't ask" He really...escused my language... but pissed me off.

1. What is the chance of getting infected through a NOSE piercing?? I know my son said he bled a little bit, which WORRIED ME!!

2.Is the piercing on the side of the nose a realistic means of transmission?

3. And would enough blood even be in the needle to realistically transmit?

4. Do you feel like the owner/piercer would really risk his job? He is REALLY big in the A.P.P (Association for Professional Piercers) and safe piercing website.

I will donate $50 for each question. I love you, handsome!

I think I need a martini! Dirty martini!! :)

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Martini-needing Mom,

Are you just being crazy? No, but I do think you are overreacting. Although I'm not familiar with the APP (Association of Professional Piercers), their Web site gives fairly straightforward common sense information stressing health and safety. Have a look. I think it will calm some of your fears. Certainly if your son's piercer has been transfixing various pieces of metal through various parts of people's bodies for 11 years, chances are he knows what he's doing. Otherwise the health department (or an angry client) would have shut him down. You can always call the piercing palace and talk to the owner just to get additional reassurance as well.

As for your specific questions:

1. Extremely remote at best.

2. It's theoretically possible to transmit HIV and other bloodborne diseases from getting pierced or tattooed, but in reality this very rarely occurs as appropriate precautions are taken to prevent viral transmission.

3. This is a hypothetical question to which I cannot give a specific answer without actually seeing the equipment used. The best I can offer is this: There is a theoretical risk, albeit very, very slight. (The risk becomes essentially nonexistent if appropriate sterilization techniques are used.)

If my reassurance and a dry dirty martini aren't enough to shake your worries, have your son get a single HIV-antibody test at the three-month mark. I'm confident the result will be negative, but if it helps you to put your residual fears permanently to rest (and keeps you from becoming a dirty martini lush), it may well be worth the effort psychologically. It's also a good time to review HIV prevention (sexual and non-sexual) with your pierced offspring!

Thanks for your donation to the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation (www.concertedeffort.org). It's warmly appreciated.

Be well. Stay well.

Dr. Bob



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